Features and Commentaries

We Have Lost A LeaderAnd Patriot

D eath has robbed Akwa Ibom State of one of her absolute best. As it is, the lot of every mortal, our dear brother and leader, Air Commodore Idongesit Okon Nkanga, has answered the last call. What a heart breaker! What a great loss! My first interaction with him was during my national service year; at his C-22 Apartment, Air Force Base, Ikeja, when I visited him with my friend, Steve Umondak, who was his in-law. Not long after, Steve and I were involved in an auto accident, and "Brother Lance, as we fondly called him, came to our help. Nkanga rose within the ranks in the Air Force and later became the first indigenous Military Governor of Akwa Ibom State. 

His tenure was an actionpacked season of key projects in the specific areas of road construction, healthcare, and creation of local governments, which expanded the developmental landscape of the state. The state secretariat, which was the signature project of his administration, was constructed at a time when state revenues were paltry. It has since been rightly named after him. This was the first physical structure of note announcing in no uncertain terms, the arrival of the then nascent Akwa Ibom State as an established political entity, ready and able to catch up with, and even surpass states that were created before it. The completion of Ibom Hall on his watch meant the availability of a point of convergence for all Akwa Ibomites for celebrations, prayers, socializing and networking. 

 Air Commodore Nkanga carried his zeal for state development to his role as the National Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Elders Development Forum. He was committed to the fight for justice for the Niger Delta people, particularly as it concerned equitable distribution of the region's God-endowed rich natural resources, to the benefit the people.

 The setting up of the Victor Attah International Airport was another opportunity for Nkanga to deploy his management and professional skills accumulated over the years, as a highly trained and proficient Nigerian Air Force pilot, and past Commandant of the Presidential Air Fleet. He did not disappoint. As chairman of the Airport Project Implementation Committee, it is to his credit that the right administrative and professional foundations were laid for the successes the airport has so far recorded. Without doubt, our departed brother's legacy is an enviable one. Even his most ardent critics cannot but acknowledge him as a patriot and visionary, who devoted his life to the service of his fatherland by volunteering to join our country's armed forces, before becoming a leader of Akwa Ibom State and the Niger Delta region.

 Millions across Nigeria will mourn his departure. I join them. We shall deeply miss the counsel of this great son of Nigeria. He has played his part admirably, and I have no doubt that history will speak kindly of him, and confer on him the much-deserved membership of the rarefied pantheon of the great leaders of our time. It is therefore with deep sympathy that I send my heartfelt condolences on behalf of my family, to his widow, Funmi, his son, Utibe, who was particularly close to me during his time with ExxonMobil Nigeria, and the entire Nkanga family. I also mourn with Governor Udom Emmanuel and all Akwa Ibomites on this colossal tragedy. It is my prayer that God comforts Akwa Ibom State, the Niger Delta region, and indeed Nigeria, at this time of our great loss. Let the soul of our departed brother, Air Commodore Idongesit Okon Nkanga, find peace in eternity. 

Being a condolence message to the government and people of Akwa Ibom State on the death of retired Air Commodore Idongesit Okon Nkanga, by Udom Inoyo, immediate-past Executive Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil

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