Akwa Ibom Bubbles As Gov Emmanuel, Family Bid Late Father Farewell

By Edidiong Albert


“Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go. – Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695)

Everywhere is evocative. The length and breadth of Akwa Ibom State glow as the obsequies of a nonagenarian, Late Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang, the father of His Excellency, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom State sets in.

Pa Nkanang, beyond begetting a son who is a governor, had, in his 90 years sojourn on earth before bidding farewell to the earthly world on December 1, 2019, lived a life that greatly impacted humanity.

As an educationist, a community leader and an elder of the United Evangelical Church (UEC), founded as Qua Iboe Church, he had through these platforms built lives, effected moral regeneration in the society as well as won lives to God.

His life and times come with such incredible testimonies that have clad his death to be more of a celebration than mourning. His ancestral home, Awa Iman in Onna Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State is bustling as a pilgrim ground with tens of thousands of people, sojourning his abode to identify with the family in memory of the departed colossus.

The condolence visits since the opening of the mourning house, have witnessed all strata of the society from Akwa Ibom and all parts of Nigeria including, foreign nationals and diplomats in and out Awa Iman, Onna.

Governor Emmanuel was quick to acknowledge that the family is very grateful for the show of love and solidarity. Speaking on the occasion of the condolence visits by Ibom Patriots, The Apostolic Church and The Qua Iboe Church at the Banquet Hall, Awa Iman, on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, the Governor said: “I would like to let you know that our hearts are full of joy, especially mine. Ever since my father passed away in December, 2019, I have received enough condolences. When we used to hold association meetings in Lagos, there was a motto we had, “No event, no history”, I think this is one event that has imprinted a very good history in different strata of the society.

“History is not by the way my father is going to be buried, history is not the way he died, history is not his age but history is bothered with those who are alive. The demonstration of love to me as a person is overwhelming and I really want to thank all of you.

“I feel so loved, honestly, I didn’t know Akwa Ibom loves me this much and indeed Nigeria. From North, East, South, West, people who were antagonizing me have been sending gifts and well-wishes. I thank God that while I’m alive I could see an incident happen that can be a bridge builder across the country. I pray you’ll see it demonstrated on Saturday, February 15, 2020. It will be a very good crusade ground for whoever is going to preach.”

The governor used the opportunity of the visits to espouse the life of his late father, Pa Nkanang. Governor Emmanuel quipped: “I really want to thank God for the opportunity to say all this. My father lived a good life and I’m sure my father is in heaven and I want to thank you.”

In the roll call of condolence visits include the National Assembly Caucus of the National Assembly (senators and representatives), led by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, leader of the Caucus and Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, Upstream. The legislators offered Governor Emmanuel gifts and prayed to God to grant his father’s soul eternal rest and fortitude for the family to bear the irreparable loss, adding that they stand with the Governor and family at this moment of their grief.

The Eket Senatorial District Elders Forum led by Chief Nduese Essien showered the Governor and the family with gifts of N25 million and other items to support the obsequies. Responding with joy, the Governor commended the Eket Senatorial District Elders Forum for the support, announcing that he was not going to use a dime of the state government’s funds to foot the bill.

“The Accountant General of the State is there, ask him, I have not requested for a penny from the state for this event and I have vowed not to do so. My father was a teacher and salaries of teachers were quite small as at then. But he worked hard to ensure that all his children had the best foundation in life and attained the highest level in education.”

According to the Governor, that was the reason the family had decided to task themselves and also count on the support from friends. He said. “If he could do so much for us with so little, then we owe ourselves the responsibility of sacrificing to celebrate his life and the values he deposited in us. When a group is so well organised, it is because of leadership, and I commend the leadership of this forum for what it has achieved in the district. If you look at the quality of membership, then you will know that these are all real leaders in every sense of it.”

Earlier in his speech, the leader of the Senatorial District, Chief Nduese Essien said they first received with shock the demise of the Governor’s father, but they have come to describe it as a celebration of life. He commended Governor Emmanuel for being an outstanding leader who has brought impactful developments to the state. “We brought 120 tubers of yam, 12 cows, 12 goats, various assorted drinks among others and we hope that these would be accepted as a token of our support to the family in the ceremony” he added.

Also, the Akwa Ibom State Judiciary, led by the Hon. Chief Judge, Justice Godwin Abraham as well as Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District Stakeholders, Party Leaders, led by the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Frank Ekpo, MFR.

The leadership of Uyo Senatorial District Elders Forum, led by Obong Ekpe Atakpo also paid a condolence visit, extolling the deceased for the various virtues he was known for and for raising worthy children.

The leadership of Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, a leading socio cultural organization in Akwa Ibom State, equally led its members on a condolence visit to the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel and family in Awa Iman, Onna.

The United States has also identified with the obsequies. The U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Kathleen FitzGibbon, visited Governor Emmanuel at his country home, Awa-Iman, Onna Local Government Area. She condoled the Governor and his family on the death of their father, Late Elder Gabriel Nkanang. The envoy also told the Governor of the assistance given to the State by American Government on the fight against HIV /AIDS pandemic.

In same vein, the Government and People of Cross River State commiserated with Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and his family on the death of the family’s patriarch, Late Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang.

The Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade conveyed the condolence through his Deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, during a visit to Governor Emmanuel at his country home, Awa-Iman, Onna Local Government Area, on Wednesday, February 12, 2020.

Former Governors and Deputies in Akwa Ibom State also paid condolence visit. In the delegation led by Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, were Obong Victor Attah, Chief Etim Okpoyo, Senator Chris Ekpenyong and Sir Michael Udofia. They visited the family on a solidarity to console Governor Emmanuel and the family and urged them to be comforted in the Lord, explaining that there was no pleasant moment to lose a loved one.

Otuekong Nkanga acknowledged the Christian values the deceased had inculcated in the children, noting that Governor Emmanuel has replicated those values in his administration of the state. The former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State thanked God for having kept the late Elder Nkanang to the ripe age of 90 years and prayed for the repose of his soul.

Security Chiefs in Akwa Ibom also visited the governor and the family. The State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, who led the Service Chiefs, prayed for God’s consolation on the family at this moment of grief and pledged the commitment of the Service Chiefs to ensure adequate security during the obsequies and in the state at large.

The state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, led by Rev. Dr. Ndueso Ekwere, also paid condolence visit, urging the Governor’s family to take solace in God’s assurance that He will not leave nor forsake them. The cleric assured that CAN will not renege in its intercessory role of praying for the success of the State administration.

Ibibio Elders Forum was also in Awa Iman. Former Governor, Arch. Obong Victor Attah, who is the political leader of the Ibibios, who led the delegation thanked God that the children of Pa Nkanang were alive to give their beloved father a befitting funeral.

Obong Attah while eulogising the departed patriarch, said the guidance he gave them while growing up accounts for the success recorded in their various endeavours. He particularly extolled the deceased for the devotion to the growth of Qua Iboe Church, as a missionary and for the zeal as an educationist, which impacted the younger generation and the communities he found himself in the course of duty.

The Akwa Ibom State Council of Chiefs led by the chairman, His Eminence, Nteyin (Dr.) Solomon Daniel Etuk also commiserated with the Governor and family. Nteyin Etuk, who is the Oku Ibom Ibibio and patriarch of Ibibio Land, described the late Pa Nkanang as someone who stood out brightly in his duties and stewardship while alive.

A delegation of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Akwa Ibom State Council, comprising Chairmen of the 31 local government councils also called to commiserate with the Governor and the entire family at Awa Iman. Likewise, the enlarged State Executive Council members, Akwa Ibom State Government, comprising Chairmen of Boards and Parastatals and Permanent Secretaries paid condolence visits on the Governor at Awa Iman in Onna.

The leader of the delegation and Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, MFR, in commiserating with the family, described Late Pa Nkanang as a colossus who had positively impacted on his family, his community and the entire Akwa Ibom State. According to him, though the great patriarch is dead, he lives through the indelible legacies he left behind and commiserated the family on the demise of their father. “The legacies of your father will live on even after his death. In the upbringing of his children, he left such a legacy that the state will continue to enjoy, through his offspring as one of you have been donated to serve the state as governor,” Ekpo quipped.

Aides of Governor Udom Emmanuel, led by the Dean, Elder Ufot Ebong, also commiserated with their principal and his family on the passage of Late Elder Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang. Akwa Ibom Women also undertook a condole visit. The delegation comprised of women in elected positions, female appointees, Legislators Wives Association, Wives of Commissioners/ Special Advisers, Wives of Local Government Chairmen, women representatives from Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket senatorial districts, Female Councillors , Female Permanent Secretaries, Wives of Permanent Secretaries, Wives of Paramount Rulers, Mbong Iban, Wife of the Head of Service and Heads of Women Groups.

The women prayed for the bereaved family and presented food items in support of the funeral.
The condolence visits witnessed Akwa Ibom Students. Under the aegis of National Association of Akwa Ibom State Students (NAAKISS – Worldwide) led by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Student Matters, Comrade Akwaowo Clifford. They visited the Governor to commiserate with him and the family on the demise of the patriarch, Late Elder Gabriel Nkanang.

Likewise, Ati Annang Foundation, members of Akwa Esop Imaisong Ibibio, Akwa Ibom State Bikers Association also called on the Governor.

The People’s Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom State Chapter also visited to condole with Governor Emmanuel and family over the passage of his father and patriarch. The party, led by Obong Paul Ekpo said that the governor’s father lived a worthy life. Ekpo said, “We received the news of the death of your father with shock. We are here to commiserate with you and give you our support.

“Your Excellency, your late father was a community leader, a peaceful man and a devout Christian. Take solace in the fact that he lived well. Our thoughts are with you during this period and we pray the Almighty God for the protection of the family,” he added.

The National Legal Adviser of the Party, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem while speaking, praised the Governor’s late father for living a fulfilled life. He further espoused how the late teacher Gabriel Nkanang’s good character rubbed off on his offspring.

Responding, Governor Udom Emmanuel thanked the Party for the solidarity and love. He said that death is a debt every human being must pay, irrespective of their social class or status.

“I want to thank the entire party structure for this visit. Let me also use this opportunity to thank you once again for all you did in 2019. I thank the leadership of the Party for keeping the party intact. Thank you for the love you have shown me and my family and may God bless you”, he said.

The Eldest son of the deceased Mr Gabriel Nkanang thanked the party for always standing by the Governor. He appreciated the Party for its loyalty and prayed good fortunes for the party.

A list of others include the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC led by Comrade Sunny James; Akwa Ibom State Youth Leadership, which comprises Youth Caucus, Youth Council, Dakkada Ambassadors, Village Youths, Christian Youths, Muslim Youths, Female Youths and representatives of organized youth groups. The delegation of youth leaders were led by the Senior Special Assistant President-general of Oron Union the Governor on Youth Matters, Mr. Aniefiok Iwaudofia.

Also, Oron under the leadership of Bishop Etim Ante led a high powered delegation of Oro people to pay a condolence. The delegation had the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Union, Sir (Dr.) Edet Amana. The former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Sir Amb. Engr Etim Okpoyo. The Secretary to Akwa Ibom State government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwe; the Senator Representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, Distinguished Senator Akon Eyakenyi.

Responding during the visits, Governor Emmanuel, flanked by his wife Martha and members of his extended family, said that he was enthused by the outpour of condolences by groups, friends of the family, professional colleagues and political associates. He described as heart-warming the visit, messages of condolence and gifts given in support of the funeral ceremony, adding that the gesture is a testament of love shown by the people.

He recalled the fond memories of his father as a disciplinarian, a teacher of no mean repute and a missionary who aided the planting of Qua Iboe Church in Kogi, Nassarawa and Niger states known then as the Ighala Conference of Qua Iboe Church and expressed appreciation to God for giving him the grace to live up to 90 years.

Governor Emmanuel said, “I feel proud to have been a son of this kind of man. Through his discipline, forthrightness and the grace of God, we are where we are today,” he acknowledged.

In his vote of thank, the Governor’s eldest brother, Mr Gabriel Emmanuel Nkanang applauded the visitors for the support and encouragement given to the family.

Truly, like Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695) said “Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go.” The late Pa Nkanang sown enough good deeds while alive and has reaped a harvest of goodwill at his transition.

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