Say what you will about the twists and turns of the dungeons and dragons of politics, but humanity remains the heart of the whole saga – whether that heart beats to logic-racking ideologies is something else entirely. With the quality and capacity of attendance at the funeral service of Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang, father of Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State, humanity evidently beats political agenda.
The setting for the funeral service was the United Evangelical Church/Qua Iboe Church, Awa-Iman, Onna Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom State, where the late Elder Nkanang was dutifully laid to rest. A teacher and a pastor, the eminence of the dignitaries that graced Elder Nkanang’s funeral service indicated that the man sowed many an enduring seed, least of which is not his governor son, Emmanuel Udom.
Especially noteworthy was the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, alongside former Nigerian Presidents, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan – with his wife, Dame Patience. Several state governors were also present, including Delta State’s Ifeanyi Okowa, Cross River’s Ben Ayade, Edo’s Godwin Obaseki, Abia’s Okezie Ikpeazu, Enugu’s Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Ekiti’s Kayode Fayemi, Niger’s Abubakar Bello, Sokoto’s Aminu Tambuwal, Osun’s Adegboyega Oyetola, Oyo’s Seyi Makinde, and Rivers’ Nyesom Wike.
In addition, the President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawan was also in attendance, alongside his predecessor, Bukola Saraki. Former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, and even the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, were all present. This is to mention a few of the power-bearers of the Nigerian society, powerbrokers of a variety of political, ethnic, religious and ideological qualities. All differences were set aside in honour of Elder Nkanang and his family.
This blend was not unnoticed by Governor Udom, who spent a significant amount of time appreciating the dignitaries and their recognition of his late father’s character, impacts and legacy.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo also had a bit to say about the late Elder Nkanang. In his speech, he distinguished papa Nkanang as more than a pastor, teacher or disciplinarian; but a mentor of many and a father to many more.
At age 90, Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang evidently touched more lives than he knew.