Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state has expressed surprise over the level of development in Akwa Ibom state, describing it as “unbelievable”, while adding that the two States appear to be in a competition.
He visited the neighbouring state on Thursday after it lost at least three prominent figures, including a former governor Idongesit Nkanga.
Upon landing in Uyo, the state capital, the Rivers State Governor headed to meet Governor Udom Emmanuel at Hilltop Mansion, Government House.
There, he described the death of Nkanga, who was also the director-general of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s two terms campaign organisation and Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) as a grave loss not just to Akwa Ibom State but the entire south-south region.
He also said the same of late Udo Ekpeyong, the Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who died three days ago, saying his demise was a blow to the PDP, a party which, Wike said, is Nigeria’s hope.
Wike said: “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.
“I said, ‘no what affects him, affects me, what touches Akwa Ibom touches Rivers state’.”
He said that Idongesit Nkanga’s death was unfortunate, untimely and a sad event for both the people of Akwa Ibom and Rivers states, explaining that the loss is happening in a time when he had become a strong voice in the Niger-Delta and been at the frontline of agitations for the restructuring of Nigeria.
He however encouraged Governor Emmanuel to draw consolation from the word of God and hold onto his faith as a Christian.
Governor Wike said that God is all-knowing and cannot be questioned by man over what he has allowed.
He assured that the government of Rivers State woud be fully involved in all levels of the funeral arrangements for the two.
Wike said Governor Emmanuel has earned his respect and the love of his people by his integrity in keeping his promises to his people and his political associates.
He described Governor Emmanuel’s developmental strides as impressive and the governor, as a man who loves his people.
“Governor Udom Emmanuel is my brother, he is a man of his words, if he tells you that he will do something you can go home and sleep with your two eyes closed, again Governor Udom Emmanuel has the interest of the people of the Niger Delta at heart particularly the people of Akwa Ibom State.
“As we were coming in today, I told the Chief of Staff that Akwa Ibom is competing with Rivers State with what I have seen. It is unbelievable.”
Governor Emmanuel, in his response, thanked his Rivers State counterpart and other state governors in the Niger Delta region for identifying with him in the period of grief.
He described the departed two-time DG of his governorship campaign organsation, Idongesit Nkanga and the State PDP Chairman as men of proven integrity and loyalty, adding that the news of Nkanga’s death, in the peak of the yuletide, threw the state into unimaginable grief.
“For a man to be your two terms campaign DG, he must have proven a high level of loyalty and integrity,” Mr Emmanuel said.
“If Idongesit Nkanga says he loves you in front, know that he loves you all round, both in front and behind you. He was a man of that kind of integrity, character and personality. You could see, even in the South-south, he never had any wall of discrimination.”
On the late Ekpeyong, the governor said: “My party Chairman also, in fact when they are introducing him, they call him Mr. Loyalty. He was that loyal.
“He has served the party both at the state and the national levels. In short, if you want any definition for loyal, just look for Hon. Udo Ekpenyong, you’ll certainly get that anytime any day. It’s so painful”, Emmanuel said.
The Akwa Ibom Governor also bemoaned 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 is 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.
Governor Emmanuel called on all governors, leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta region to join him and the people of Akwa Ibom State for the funeral ceremony in honour of Idongesit Nkanga scheduled for February 6, 2021.