*Emmanuel, Amao eulogise late air force boss
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Okon Bassey in Uyo
Akwa Ibom Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, yesterday paid glowing tributes as the remains of the 12th Chief of the Air Staff, Late Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok, were laid to rest at his country home in Mbak Ekpe on the outskirts of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The funeral service and interment ceremony attracted dignitaries and sympathisers from all walks of life. Eduok died on 6 January 2021 at the age of 73.
Speaking during the burial ceremony, Amao described the late Air Marshal as an amiable personality, a man of valour and integrity and a great achiever, with unprecedented drive for success.
“He was a mentor to so many of us both serving and retired. He was one of the best hands in the NAF who steered the tide of the service towards the successes recorded in the past years.
“He changed the landscape of the service and left the scene like a hero while the ovation was still reverberating”, he said. The late air marshal contributed significantly to the development of the NAF.
He noted that the late CAS was his personal mentor, whom he described as a great fighter pilot whose transformational approach to leadership tremendously impacted on the development of the NAF.
Amao further described him as an accommodating air marshal, whose astuteness, diligence and dedication during his sojourn on earth made significant and considerable impacts in “our lives and the NAF as a whole”.
Speaking further, the air force chief stated that while serving as the CAS, late Air Marshal Eduok brought his wealth of operational and administrative experience to bear in steering the affairs of the NAF.
The feat, which he said, ultimately led to the outstanding transformation enjoyed by the service today. He noted that the late Eduok was renowned as the first CAS to procure an attack helicopter which enhanced the offensive capability and operational effectiveness of the NAF.
“A warrior that he was, Air Marshal Eduok saw to the successful conclusion of the National Peace Enforcement efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“Even in retirement, the late former CAS continued to make invaluable contributions to the development of the service, with significant inputs towards the restructuring of the NAF to make it more effective in dealing with contemporary security challenges facing the country”, he said, while noting that “his contributions to NAF operations in pursuit of Nigeria’s national security and stability will forever be remembered”.
While condoling with his immediate family for the loss, AVM Amao noted that late Eduok would be missed for his timely and professional contributions not just to the NAF and Akwa Ibom State, but also to the entire nation.
Accordingly, the CAS said, in honour of his sacrifice to the service and the nation and in recognition of his extraordinary passion for fitness, the Ultra-Fit Gymnasium Centre at the NAF Base Yola, was commissioned and named after late Eduok (retired) to immortalise him.
“To his immediate family as well as the governor and good people of Akwa Ibom State, we indeed share in your grief and reassure you of our continuous support in these trying times.
“Just about two weeks ago, Akwa Ibom State bade farewell and laid to rest the first indigenous military administrator of this state and a senior Air Force officer, late Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retired).”
He further stated that these events were huge losses to the NAF, Akwa Ibom State and indeed the entire nation.
“We are however very proud and highly honoured to have worked with your amiable husbands, fathers and illustrious sons,” AVM Amao said.
Also at the funeral, Emmanuel, expressed a deep sense of loss and grief on behalf of the government and good people of Akwa Ibom State, as he bade farewell to late Eduok, whom he described as a quintessential Nigerian patriot, a trail-blazer, an epitome of courage and bravery, a decorated air force officer and above all, a husband, father and a devout Christian.
He stated further that the late CAS was one of the ambassadors in Akwa Ibom who epitomised the state’s defining characteristics of duty, honesty, transparency, integrity, love for country and God which he brought to bear in the course of his illustrious career with the NAF where he rose to the pinnacle of the service as the 12th Chief of Air Staff.
“The first Akwaibomite to ever occupy that exalted position”, he said.
The governor said that the late CAS, in retirement, chose to relocate to his home state and was a dependable statesman, a voice for reason and moderation whose counsel when sought was always ready and on point.
“Let me end this oration by quoting a line from the 19th Century Unitarian preacher and writer, Minot J. Savage ‘The brave die never, though they sleep in dust. Their courage nerves a thousand living men” he stated, in a statement issued by NAF.