|1969, Major General Philip Efiong returning
from a visit to a refugee camp at Nto
Edino in present Akwa Ibom State
|Obong (Major General) Philip Efiong, Akankang
Ibiono Ibom, in Ikot Ekpene, 2002
|Right, Lagos, 15 January
1970, General Efiong shakes
hand with General Gowon
|1969, at parade to celebrate the Second Independence
Anniversary of Biafra; General Efiong is fourth from left;
General Ojukwu, Head of State, is fifth from left
|January 1970, preparing for meeting in
Lagos at the end of the Civil War; second
from left is General Efiong, third is
Colonel O. Obasanjo
|1970, initial meeting between both sides
at the end of the War; from left to right:
General Efiong, Prof. Eni Njoku, Colonel
|End of the War; In the true spirit of
African reconciliation, kola nut is shared;
General Efiong, extreme right, takes a piece
|In Memory of my father, Obong (Major General)
Philip Efiong, Akangkang Ibiono Ibom
(November 18, 1925 - November 6, 2003)
|May the soul of a great dad and exceptional statesman
rest in perfect peace!
|We miss you dearly!
About Major General Philip Effiong
Obong (Major General) Philip Asuquo Efiong of Ikot Akpan Obong in Utit Obio Clan of Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State was born on 18 November 1925 in Aba, present Abia State, Nigeria. His father, the late Eté John Efiong Essien was a businessman and his mother, the late Elizabeth Ekandem Efiong Essien, was a trader and farmer. The Efiong Essien family ended up in Ikot Ekpene after Eté John moved his household from Aba to Ikot Ekpene in 1929 to prevent his wife—who had participated in the legendary Eastern Women’s Revolution of that same year—from being victimized by the colonial regime.
The young Philip began his education at Saint Anne’s Catholic Primary School, Ifuho in Ikot Ekpene, from where he obtained his standard six certificate, which, at the time, qualified him to be a pupil teacher. He was posted to Nto Otong Midim, Abak after which he relocated to Saint Thomas’ Teacher Training College, Ogoja and, later, Saint Patrick’s College, Ikot Ansa, Calabar. He left Saint Patrick’s in 1944 and moved on to Saint Augustine’s, Urua Inyang to study for his higher elementary certificate.
In 1945, Philip left teaching entirely and joined the army (the West African Frontier Force), enlisting as a private in Enugu. At the end of the Second World War, he became a regular soldier in the renamed Royal West African Frontier Force. Private Philip Efiong was among the first batch of educated recruits posted to Zaria, which was then the training depot for young enlisted soldiers. Part of his training involved clerical instruction at the Clerical Training School in Teshi, Ghana. On his return to Nigeria, he was posted to the Lagos Garrison Office and promoted to the rank of lance corporal in 1947. He was subsequently promoted corporal in 1948 and sergeant in 1949. Also in 1949, Sergeant Philip Efiong was posted to Zaria to help set up the African Non-Commissioned Officers School under the supervision of a British Warrant Officer II. While in Zaria, he studied on his own, sat for and passed the Cambridge overseas school certificate examination in 1953. He was then posted to the orderly room as the recruiting non-commissioned officer.
It was also around 1953 that the intelligence quotient (IQ) test was introduced into the army and Sergeant Philip Efiong’s result in the test was used as a base for evaluating the new recruits. In 1954, he was promoted sergeant major and in 1955 was again sent to Teshi, this time to the Regular Officers Special Training School. On his return, he was recommended for training in Britain and subsequently trained at the Home Countries Brigade, Canterbury, and Eaton Hall Officers Cadet Training School in Chester and Trawnysfyld in Wales. He was commissioned second lieutenant at the passing out parade in Chester in 1956, and later that year he was promoted lieutenant.
In 1958, Lieutenant Philip Efiong went on to do his post commissioning training in various parts of Britain, the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in Düsseldorf in Germany, and the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) in West Germany. That same
Year, he was promoted to captain. In 1959, Captain Philip Efiong served with the peacekeeping force in the Cameroons. As a major in 1960, he also served as a company commander in peacekeeping operations under the United Nations in the Republic of Congo. He was recalled from the Congo in 1961 and transferred to the Nigerian Army Ordnance Corps. As follow-up to this transfer, he proceeded to Britain to attend an ordnance course at the Royal Army Ordnance Corps School in Blackdown near Aldershot. This course led to his being awarded associate member of the British Institute of Management. On completion of his ordnance training, he became the first Nigerian commander of the ordnance depot in Yaba, Lagos in 1962, and the first Nigerian director of ordnance services for the Nigerian Army in 1963, the year he was promoted lieutenant colonel. This was the post and rank he held when the first coup d’état took place on January 15, 1966.
After the coup d’état of January 1966, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Efiong was posted to the supreme headquarters as principal staff officer to the late Major General J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi. He was acting chief of staff supreme headquarters in May 1966 and in July 1966 was posted to Kaduna as deputy brigade commander under the late Lieutenant Colonel Wellington Bassey. Following the countercoup of the same year, he managed to escape from Kaduna to Lagos. In compliance with orders for all officers to return to their regions of origin, he returned to the East where, in 1967, the war broke out. For Obong Philip Efiong, this marked the beginning of the end of 22 years of meritorious service in the Nigerian Army.
As a Biafran officer from 1967 to 1970, Obong Philip Efiong served in various capacities as chief of logistics, chief of staff, commandant of the militia, and chief of general staff. In January 1970, Major General Philip Efiong called for an end to the hostilities and voluntarily led a delegation of surrender to General Gowon in Lagos.
Obong Philip Efiong received many honors in his lifetime, most of them expressing tribute to his courage. It was for this reason that the Ibiono Ibom Traditional Council of Chiefs conferred him with the title of Akangkang Ibiono Ibom (the Sword of Ibiono Ibom) in 1995.
After battling occasional health problems, Obong Philip Efiong passed away on 6 November 2003, 12 days to his 78th birthday. He is survived by a wife, eight children, several grandchildren and a host of relatives.