Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has mourned the Chairman of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Idongesit Nkanga, and chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom, Udo Ekpenyong.
Wike, who was on a condolence visit to his counterpart in Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel on Thursday, commiserated with the government and people of the state over the loss of the prominent indigenes.
Wike described the death of Nkanga and Ekpenyong as a “grave loss not just to Akwa Ibom, but the entire south-south region and the PDP”.
The Rivers governor said Emmanuel has earned his respect and the love of his people by his integrity and in keeping his promises to the people of the state.
Wike, however, encouraged Emmanuel to draw consolation from the word of God and focus on him to help develop the state.
He said: “What affects him, affects me; what touches Akwa Ibom touches Rivers state.
“What I came here for is that governor Udom has lost two to three prominent sons of Akwa Ibom state. The most painful is the former two-time director-general of his campaign organisation and the chairman of PANDEF, and then his party chairman, who is also my party and the hope for this country.”
Wike assured Emmanuel that the Rivers government will be fully involved in the funeral arrangements for the deceased.
Wike said: “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. 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.”
Responding, Emmanuel thanked Wike and other governors in the Niger Delta region for identifying with him in the period of grief.
He, however, invited all governors, leaders, stakeholders of the Niger Delta, and other Akwa Ibom residents to the funeral ceremony of the late PANDEF chairman, which is scheduled for February 6.
He described the late Nkanga and Ekpenyong “as men of proven integrity and loyalty”, adding that the news of their death “threw the state into unimaginable grief”.
“For a man to be your two-term DG, he must have proven a high level of loyalty and integrity. If Idongesit Nkanga says he loves you in front, know that he loves you all-round, both in front and behind you,” Emmanuel said.
“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.
“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 honourable Udo Ekpenyong. You’ll certainly get that any time, any day. It’s so painful.”