By Chioma Onuegbu
FIRST military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, rtd, Akwa Ibom state governor, Udom Emmanuel, his Bayelsa state counterpart, Douye Diri and the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, on Saturday paid glowing tributes to the first indigenous military governor of Akwa Ibom, Late Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, rtd.
The body of Nkanga who died on December 24, 2020 was interred at his hometown, Ikot Nya in Nsit Ibom local government after full military by officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
In his condolence message, Babangida who was represented by Brigadier-General Anthony Etukudoh(rtd) described the late Nkanga as one of the best military officers the country had ever produced who fought for the unity of Nigeria.
IBB said, ”He was my former student One of the best military officers Nigeria has ever produced. Commander Presidential Fleet during my time, a very good administrator, endowed with passion for hard work.
”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”
In his remarks, Governor Udom Emmanuel described Nkanga as a great patriot, confidante, friend and visionary leader who was not only an asset to Akwa Ibom but to the Niger Delta region and Nigeria as a whole.
“We are gathered here in this quaint and serene village 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; a man whose loyalty to causes he held dear were unshaken and whose dedication to the Akwa Ibom Project, the Niger-Delta and the larger Nigerian Enterprise was total and non-negotiable.
“We are gathered here to celebrate and bid farewell to a man who was passionately committed to the development of this State; a man whose vision of governance was as people-centric as it was deeply sustainable. Ladies and gentlemen, I find it difficult to address our departed elder Statesman in past tense.
“The word, “late” is heavy and difficult for me to pronounce, but as the Holy Bible in Hebrews 9:27 explicitly states “ and as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement.
“The memories of his impactful life will linger on. He may have left behind all these monuments, but his enduring legacies will remain woven in our fabric forever.
Similarly, Bayelsa state governor, Douye Diri in his condolence message described the late Nkanga as one of the fathers of the Niger Delta, an activist and intelligentsia from the region whose strong voice would be missed forever.
His words, ”He informed me that he will be in Bayelsa, very early this year for plans to sure 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’ve an intelligentsia of the Niger Delta Region and an Air commodore of Nigeria”.
On his part, Senator Bassey Ewa-Henshaw who spoke for the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) expressed grief over the death of its chairman, saying Nkanga was a trustworthy leader, compatriot and statesman.
He added that the Forum was still in shock of Nkanga’s sudden demise, stressing, “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 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”.