The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is a “father” to all the 36 governors in Nigeria.
The governor, who was speaking on Friday in Uyo during the closing ceremony of the third edition of the Nigerian Air Force combat sports competition, was full of praise for the president.
“I must thank the Commander in Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, our own President Muhammadu Buhari for being such a good general to all of us (the governors), including myself,” Mr Emmanuel said.
“I am not afraid to say this anytime anywhere, he is a father to all of us. I really want to thank him,” the governor said.
Coming from a governor elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Emmanuel’s remarks is in contrast with the constant criticisms of the president by the PDP and its leaders.
Mr Emmanuel in December last year stopped short of sacking his media aide, Essien Ndueso, for accusing the president of according more care to his cows than ordinary Nigerians. The governor disowned the aide and forced him to apologise to Mr Buhari.
At the air force event, Mr Emmanuel said President Buhari has taken the Nigerian Air Force and other armed forces to a new height, by providing the needed resources to them.
He thanked the Chief of Air Staff, Sadiqque Abubakar, whom he said has repositioned the air force with the capacity to deploy its air power timely and effectively to secure the nation.
During the competition’s opening ceremony on Tuesday, the Chief of Air Staff, Mr Abubakar, urged Nigerians to reject the call to take up arms to defend themselves, saying such would lead to “anarchy and return to Hobbesian state of nature where might is right and everybody is to himself.”
Mr Abubakar also urged the officers of the Nigerian Air Force to “continue the good work and resist the distractions of politicisation of security issues that is awash in social media platforms.”
He said to the officers: “Your performance in various theatres of conflict within and outside Nigeria is a clear testimony of our commitment to ensuring Nigeria and its citizens are secured.
“The Nigerian Air Force remains fully committed to the successful execution of its constitutional roles and will continue to meet its statutory responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of the nation.”
Seven teams drawn from the Nigerian Air Force Headquarters, Tactical Air Command, Special Operations Command, Mobility Command, Air Training Command, Ground Training Command, and Logistics Command participated in sporting events like combat swimming, combat relay race, taekwondo, tug of war, and obstacle crossing.
The Ground Training Command picked six gold and one silver medals to emerge the winner, followed by the Logistics Command, Lagos, with five gold, six silver, and nine bronze medals.
The Tactical Air Command, Makurdi, took third position, with five gold, six silver, and three bronze medals.
Governor Emmanuel, who presented trophy and medals to the winning team, said the essence of the competition wasn’t just to win medals or trophies but also to promote esprit-de-corps among personnel.
He donated N2 million to the winning team, the Ground Training Command.