Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has expressed reservations that the sudden death of the Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd.) may slow down the struggle for the total emancipation of the Niger Delta Region, stressing that he was a strong voice of the region.
He made this remark when he visited the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, at Government House Uyo yesterday to commiserate with him over the death of Nkanga and the State chairman of PDP, Udo Ekpenyong.
According to Wike, the death of the PANDEF Chairman has created a deep void in the agitation for restructuring of Nigeria in line with the principle of true federalism.
“The PANDEF chairman stood for the struggle of the Niger Delta, restructuring of this country. As Rivers people, we are all from Niger Delta. We face the same problems. So, if anything happens to Akwa Ibom state, it also affects Rivers State. We have lost a voice. Whether anybody likes it or not. We have lost a voice.”
Governor Wike who described the death of both the PANDEF and PDP chairmen as painful, urged Governor Udom and the people of Akwa Ibom State to take solace in God over the death of these two great sons of the State.
In appreciation of the immense contribution of the late PANDEF chairman to the Niger Delta struggle, Governor Wike said Rivers State government will collaborate with Akwa Ibom State government to support his family and accord him a befitting funeral.
“My brother, we will support you to sustain the family. We will support you in the burial of the late PANDEF chairman. Rivers state government will want to be fully involved in whatever it takes to give him a befitting burial.
“I came here because Governor Udom has lost two, three prominent sons of Akwa Ibom State, the most painful is the former two times Director-General of his campaign organisation and the Chairman of PANDEF and then his party Chairman which is also my party and the hope for this country, PDP.”
Governor Wike, also lamented the abrupt death of Ekpenyong who was recently elected Chairman of the party in the State.
Earlier, Governor Udom Emmanuel thanked Wike and Rivers state delegation for standing by the people of Akwa Ibom in their moment of grief, noting that the death of Nkanga who was the Director General of his Divine Mandate Campaign organisation 2015 and 2019, was emotionally devastating to him and the people of the State.
“He was my DG for both first term and second term. For somebody who had been your Director general for first and second term, you know the man must have proven that high level of loyalty and integrity.
“What he doesn’t say in front of you, he will never say it behind you. He was that man at that level of integrity, character.”
He urged the governors of the South South states to collaborate with the Akwa Ibom government to give Nkanga a befitting funeral next month.
Governor Udom who described death as a mystery that only God understands, said he was saddened about the death of his state party chairman who according to him, epitomizes loyalty.
“In fact, my party chairman when they are introducing him, they use to call him Mr Loyalty. He was that loyal to our party. He had served the party at the national level, he started serving the party at the state level. If you want any definition for loyalty just look for Udo Ekpenyong.”
The Akwa Ibom Governor also noted that the state, within the period has lost a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok and former Commissioner for lands in the state Executive Council, Architect Ime Ekpo, adding that the state was pained that four of her very good people are to be buried within the same period.
He however accepted to be consoled with the fact that every man has a set time by God to quit the earth, despite the pain, and restated his resolve to continue to provide leadership for the people of the state, with the hope that God will give the state beauty for ashes.