[From INI BILLIE, Uyo]
Governor Udom Emmanuel and the people of Akwa Ibom State have mourned the death of its first indigenous Military Administration, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd).
Nkanga who was 68 years old was buried on Saturday at his country home in Ikot Nya, Nsit Ibom local government area, Akwa Ibom after he died on December 24, 2020 from COVID-19 complications.
Speaking at the event, Governor Udom Emmanuel described Nkanga as a colossus, saying his death was a very painful one to him as he worked closely with the deceased on so many projects.
Emmanuel revealed that to immortalise Nkanga, the 3rd ring road in Uyo has been named as Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga road.
“It is a very difficult moment for me but we have to be encouraged with the word of God. Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga even few days before we couldn’t speak the way we used to speak, we were still putting our heads together on so many things.
“If somebody on 1st December 2020, had told me that I would celebrate Christmas of 2020 without Idongesit Nkanga in my village, I would have said it would not be possible.
“If somebody has told me that I would go to places and look on the roll of protocol and don’t see Idongesit Nkanga, the Director General of my Divine Mandate Organisation, I would have said that it is not practicable.
“But here lies the reality of life. Here lies the mystery that only God can understand, the mystery of death. Today I pray that God in his infinite mercies will look at all of us both, the family, state, community, Church, PANDEF and everywhere, condole us and have his full mercy upon us.
“I feel like it is a dream but it has refused to be. The reality is that this gentleman, a friend of mine, my close confidant, my pally, we shared thought and ideas together, we shared visions together, we brainstormed together on the way forward for the Niger Delta, and the entire region of this state.
“But today, it has pleased God to call you back home to his glory, we cannot question him. We are gathered here to pay tributes to a man who was in every sense of the word, a colossus, a statesman, a patriot, a man of impeccable character and integrity; whose words were his bond and whose loyalty to courses he held dear where unshaken and whose dedication to Akwa Ibom project, the Niger Delta and Nigerian enterprise was total and non-negotiable.
“We are gathered here to celebrate and bid farewell to a friend, a man who was passionately committed to the development of Akwa Ibom state, a man whose vision of governance was as people centric as it was deeply sustainable,” he stated.
Also speaking, former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) said Nkanga was his former student, who was one of the best military officers Nigeria has ever produced.
IBB who was represented at the event by Air Commodore Anthony Etukudo stated that as Commander of the Presidential Fleet during his time as President, Nkanga was a very good administrator, endowed with passion for hardwork.
“As a military governor of Akwa Ibom State, which I created in 1987. Late Idongesit Nkanga came to the world as a uniform soldier, fought for the unity of Nigeria and its development.
He retired from the military but still remained as a fighting soldier in mufti.
“He fought many bottles of life for the development and advancement of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria. His legacies as military governor of Akwa Ibom State, are unquantifiable. Nigeria will greatly miss his rare ingenuity.
“I thank Akwa Ibom State for having given Nigeria a genius in the person of Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga. May his soul rest in peace. And may his immediate family and indeed Akwa Ibom State, take consolation in the fact that Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga has just passed over, but he will never die,” he stated.
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said the group was still in shock on the sudden demise of its Chairman, adding that he was a selfless and humane elder statesman.
PANDEF National Secretary, Dr Alfred Mulade said “We are still in shock over the sudden demise of our dear, National Chairman Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd) on the eve of Christmas in Uyo Akwa Ibom State.
“The entire leadership and membership of PANDEF are saddened by his death, it is devastating, words are not enough to express the pain and grief and grief we feel. He was selfless, humane, broad-minded, trusted leader, esteemed compatriots and statesmen.
“Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga was unwaveringly committed and dedicated to the founding ideals and objectives of PANDEF; to find unity, peace, and development in the Niger Delta region.
“With a combination of his strict military background, political and administrative sagacity and working in tandem with our National leader Chief Edwin Clark and other critical stakeholders of the region, he was able to seamlessly, elevate the standing of PANDEF to enviable summit with a short period as our pioneer national Chairman.
“His last official engagement as National Chairman was the public hearing on the bill for the South South Development Commission by the House of Representatives’ Committee on justice at the National Assembly, Abuja, where he made a submission on behalf of PANDEF”.
In his goodwill message, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Douye Diri recalled that his last meeting with Nkanga was in Port-Harcourt when all the governors of the Niger Delta converged with the leadership of PANDEF, adding that the deceased was one of the voices that was heard from that interaction.
He said, “And he informed me that he will be in Bayelsa, very early this year for plans to ensure that PANDEF is put in its proper place in Bayelsa State. At that point he never knew that God was about to call him to Glory.
“So we have not just lost a father, we have lost an activist of the Niger Delta region, we have an intelligentsia of the Niger Delta region and an Air Commodore of Nigeria.”
The event was graced by dignitaries in and outside the state as well as serving and former service Chiefs of the Military and the Police among others.