The Super Eagles begin their campaign against seven-time winners Egypt on Tuesday, but they will be without Victor Osimhen, Emmanuel Dennis and Odion Ighalo.
Ekong says there is pressure on the side heading into the tournament, but insists they are not favourites to lift the title.
“We understand the challenges that are in front of us, but we all try to support each other.
“And when it's time to crack a joke, we know when to do that as well. There's a brotherhood in the team. Every day is exciting. It feels like one big family.
“It's not just about us; it's about the whole of Nigeria. We know there are 200 million people at home that will want us to give our heart and soul when we play. Whenever we play, everything stops in Nigeria for 90 minutes. And everybody watches the game.
“It's good pressure and we use that to motivate us. There's that moment when you're walking out and you understand the magnitude of being able to wear the shirt. That's something really special.
“We're not one of the favourites, which I think could be a good position for us to be in.”