It was an outpouring of encomiums and glowing tributes as the remains of the 12th Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Late Air Marshal Nsikak-Abasi Essien 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, which took place today, 27 February 2021, attracted dignitaries and sympathizers from all walks of life including the current CAS, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Oladayo Amao, and the Executive Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel. Late Air Marshal Eduok died on 6 January 2021 at the age of 73.
Speaking during the burial ceremony, the CAS, AVM 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”, the CAS said. According to him, late Air Marshal Eduok contributed significantly to the development of the NAF. He noted that the late CAS was his personal mentor, a great fighter Pilot whose transformational approach to leadership tremendously impacted on the development of the NAF. AVM 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, AVM Amao stated that while serving as the CAS, late Air Marshal Eduok brought his wealth of operational and administrative experiences to bear in steering the affairs of the NAF. The feat, which he said, ultimately led to the outstanding transformations the Service is enjoying today. He noted that the late former CAS 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. His contributions to NAF operations in pursuit of Nigeria’s national security and stability will forever be remembered”, the CAS said.
While condoling with his immediate family for the loss, AVM Amao noted that the late Air Marshal 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 Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok (retired) to immortalize him. “To his immediate family as well as the Executive 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 2 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). These events are 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.
In his remarks, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Udom 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 Air Marshal Nsikak 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 State 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.
Speaking further, 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.
Meanwhile, the Governor has approved 30 hectares of land for the NAF for the construction of NAF Air Traffic Services Training Centre (ATSTC) in Uyo. This was disclosed yesterday, 25 February 2021 by the CAS, AVM Amao, during a courtesy call on the Governor. The CAS also used the opportunity to thank the Governor for his support to the family of late Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok while he was in the hospital and after his death.
Speaking during the courtesy call, Governor Udom Emmanuel congratulated the CAS on his appointment and urged him to kick-start the construction of ATSTC without further delay. The Governor stated that the CAS was appointed at a critical time when the Country is facing serious security issues. He expressed his condolences on behalf of the good people of Akwa Ibom State to the CAS on the loss of the 7 NAF personnel who lost their lives in the recent ill-fated air crash. Mr Emmanuel assured that the State would continue to support the NAF in every way possible remarking that the State would be available to host any of the NAF’s or Armed Forces’ events, especially sporting competitions. He equally appreciated the CAS for ensuring that standards were maintained at the Air Force Comprehensive Secondary School in Akwa Ibom State to make it the best public school in the South-South Region and one of the best in the Country.
Other dignitaries who graced the burial ceremony were the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Moses Ekpo and the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as well as Distinguished and Honourable members of the National and State Houses of Assembly. Also present were the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Former Service Chiefs; as well as Representatives of the Chief of Defence Staff and Service Chiefs as well as several other serving and retired Senior Military Officers.