BEING THE FUNERAL ORATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MR. UDOM EMMANUEL, GOVERNOR, AKWA IBOM STATE AT
THE FUNERAL OF HIS EXCELLENCY, THE LATE AIR COMMODORE (Rtd) IDONGESIT O. NKANGA, FSS, MSS, DSS, PSC (+) OFR – FORMER MILITARY GOVERNOR, AKWA IBOM STATE, AT IKOT NYA, NSIT IBOM LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, FEBRUARY 6TH, 2021
Let me begin this oration by quoting from the deeply reflective thoughts of the ancient Greek Statesman, Pericles “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Fellow Akwaibomites and invited guests, 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.” Today, the earthly journey of our Otuekong, our Idongesit Akwaibom, a fine officer of the Nigerian Air Force, a leader of our geo-political zone has come to an end but the verses of the poetry on the judgement of his lifetime of dedicated service to his Nation and the State would be couched and delivered in superlative prose.
Today, instead of walking in lockstep with me, as he always did since fate brought us together on a political journey several years ago, I am here stared at the flag-draped casket of our revered Otuekong (Air Commodore) Idongesit Nkanga, FSS, MSS, DSS, PSC (+), OFR, the Director- General of my twice successful Campaign Organization – The Divine Mandate.
Our departed Elder Statesman was a man of many firsts. The first indigenous Military Governor of our dear State, the first Commander of the Presidential Air Fleet from this part of the nation, the first man from our State to come from a village that has produced two military Governors, both Air Force officers, (Group Captain Sam Ewang) rtd, who served in Ogun and Rivers respectively, and above all, the first Director-General of a campaign Organization to have successfully won victories back to back.
Our highly respected Elder Statesman couldn’t have notched up these many firsts if he were a man shaped by fickleness of mind and thoughts. He was a passionate believer in the concept of right and wrong; he saw the goodness in the human condition, the ennobling ideals in our common humanity and sought to appropriate those ideals to advance the growth and development of our people.
He was a man of deep character and loyalty, little wonder he was chosen to command one of the most prestigious service commands in the Nigerian Air Force, the Presidential Air fleet (PAF) and until his death, was the Chairman of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) the preeminent forum that shapes and articulates the interest of the larger Niger-Delta geo-political zone.
Our Otuekong was a man of vision and today, the physical landscape of this State bears some of his developmental imprimatur – especially the State Secretariat Complex which he built and is appropriately named after him. A man of Christian masculinity, he enlarged the vineyard of the Lord as an Elder in the United Evangelical Church, founded as Qua Iboe Church and I recall the excitement he felt when he was ordained as an Elder a few years ago.
As we bid him farewell today, permit me to quote from the famed American composer, Irving Berlin “the song is ended, but the memory lingers on.” The song may have ended today for our Otuekong, the Idongesit Akwaibom, but from the lush greens of Ikot Nya, his ancestral home, to the hallowed grounds of the Executive Chambers, to the Conference Room of Ibom Air, where he was the Chairman, the Command Post of the Presidential Air Fleet or the Creeks of the Niger Delta where he fought for the resource control and economic rights of the people, 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.
Esieroooooo, our Otuekong! May your soul find peace in the bosom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.