By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Former Nigeria Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida was among leaders who spoke gloriously of the life and times of late Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga Rtd, whose remains were buried at his hometown, Ikot Nya, Nsit Ibom in Akwa Ibom State on Saturday.
Nkanga, who was the first indigenous military governor of Akwa Ibom State, had his burial witnessed by sea of sympathisers including top military officers, political class, captains of industry, clergymen and traditional rulers across Nigeria.
General Babangida whose regime, late Nkanga served as military governor, described him as a gallant soldier and one of the best soldiers in their time.
Babangida, who was represented on the occasion by Rtd. Brigadier General Anthony Etukudo said that although late Nkanga had retired from the military but still remained a fighting soldier in mufty.
His words, “He was my former student, one of the best military officers Nigeria has ever produced. Commander Presidential Airfleet during my time, 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 mufty. He fought many battles 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”, IBB said.
Also in his condolence message, the leader of PAN Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark said the demise of Nkanga who was the chairman of the Forum has caused a deep sorrow for all them in the region.
Expressing hope for another Akwa Ibom son to fit into the shoes of late Nkanga, Chief Clark who was represented by Senator Ewa Henshaw posited, “His passage has caused deep sorrow for all of us in the Niger Delta. An we hope that another Idongesit Nkanga will come out of Akwa Ibom state to continue the advocacy that Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga has been engaged for a better Nigeria”.
Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr Douye Diri who recalled that his last meeting with Nkanga was in Port-Harcourt when all the governors of the Niger Delta converged and the leadership of PANDEF were represented, said, late Air Cdre Nkanga was one of the voices that was heard from that interaction.
Having him no more, Governor Diri expressed shock over the sudden death saying, “So we have not just lost a father, we have lost an activist of the Niger Delta region, we have lost an intelligencier of the Niger Delta Region and an Air Commodore of Nigeria”
Stating his tribute as a mark of last honour to the departed Icon, the host governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel who described late Nkanga as his friend, and close confidant whom he shared thoughts, ideas and visions together on the way forward for the Niger Delta and for Akwa Ibom said it was hard to bid him a goodbye.
“Today we are gathered here in this quit serene village to pay tribute to a man who was in every sense of the word a collosus, a statesman, a patriot, a man of impeccable character and integrity, whose words were his bonds and whose dedication to Akwa Ibom project and Niger Delta and larger Nigeria enterprise was total and non negotiable. We are gathered here to bid farewell to a friend and to a man who was fashionably committed to the development of Akwa Ibom State.
“I find it difficult to address our Elder Statesman in past tense. Today instead of walking in long step with me as he always did since faith brought us together in a political journey several years ago I am here starring at the flag starred casket of our Revered Otuekong.
“A man of Christian masculinity. The song is ended but the memory lingers on, the song may have ended today for you my brother, the song may have ended for you my DG, my friend, my confidant, the song may have ended for you Idongesit Akwa Ibom, ..but the memories of your factful life linger on,” Governor stated.
Nkanga who died on December 24, 2020 was until his death, the chairman of PANDEF and Chairman Akwa Ibom Airport Development Company.
He was alsi the Director General of Divine Mandate Organisation, a political platform that worked for the emergence of Mr Udom Emmanuel as governor of Akwa Ibom state both first and second terms.
Late Nkanga while alive had served in various capacities both as a military officer and as politician.
He is survived by wife and children among other relatives. The funeral service was conducted by Qua Iboe Church, Ikot Nya and officiated by Rev. Nseobong Ebebe, Rev. Godwin Ekong among other priests.