Udora Orizu in Abuja
Elder statesman and South-South Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has expressed sadness over the death of the forum’s National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd).
Nkanga passed away on the eve of Christmas, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Clark in a statement issued yesterday, said his death is devastating to him and the entire people of the South-south geopolitical zone, coming just months after their Deputy National Chairman, Chief Francis Doukpola died under similar circumstances, in June this year.
While commending Governor Udom Emmanuel for declaring seven days of mourning following the death of the PANDEF National Chairman, the elder statesman, urged the citizens to be comforted, and also observe greater caution against the spread of COVID-19.
The statement reads, ‘’In one of the most painful moments of my public life, l was woken on Christmas morning, 25th December 2020 to the shocking news of the death of the National Chairman of our flagship, regional organization, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Air Commodore Idongeset Nkanga (rtd) at the age of 68 years.
“AVM” as I used to call him was my most trustworthy and dependable ally and Deputy in the leadership of the people of the zone. He brought along wide experience as a senior member of the Nigerian Armed Forces, where he left a towering record of service, and as former military Governor of Akwa Ibom State. He was, therefore, able to, within a remarkably short time, bring PANDEF to par with other existing groups in the country such as Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo and Middle Belt Forum.
“AVM” was also able to bring greater clarity in articulating various issues about the Niger Delta. His close interactions with the governors of the region, the National Assembly and other critical stakeholders helped to maintain the relative peace in the Niger Delta, and offered renewed vigour to the quest for equity, justice and fairness. At the recent visit of the federal government committee, led by Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, he led the Leaders and Elders of the zone to articulate our position.
“AVM” did exceedingly well as PANDEF National Chairman within the short period, he crystallised our efforts and also inaugurated the State Executive Committees of the forum in the six South-south states, which he personally attended. His death is indeed, most painful and a big loss to the organisation; the vacuum created by this irreparable loss will be very difficult to fill. Since the death of his Deputy, Chief Francis Doukpola from similar circumstances, the position of deputy national chairman has not been filled, and now we have lost the National Chairman.
‘’I have since contacted all our governors of the zone, in particular, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Udom Emmanuel to commiserate with him and our people. I have also spoken to his widow, Funmi Nkanga, who is still receiving medical attention and covet our prayers to be healthy and consoled. May the soul of “AVM” rest in peace.’’