President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday mourned the demise of Nigerian Air force Helicopter pilot, late Flight Lieutenant Akweke Junior Nwakile, who died in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Mi-35 Helicopter crash last month while on a mission in Borno State, as a national loss.
He praised the pilot for paying the supreme price for the unity and peace of the country, for which he said the nation would do all to mitigate the shock of the loss of the officer to his family and the nation.
Jonathan who spoke through the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musilu Obanikoro said at the death of Nwakile who was finally laid to rest at the National Military Cemetery Abuja, was a national and painful loss.
“President Jonathan as the Commander-in-Chief is committed to doing all that is necessary to support the Armed Forces in carrying out its duties towards ensuring the sanctity of a united Nigeria.
"To the Nwakile family, Mr. President and the whole nation share your grief of having lost a noble son. The President appreciates the great sacrifice of this young man and other members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria who continue to make sacrifices to ensure enduring peace in our nation and indeed other parts of the African continent.
"The whole nation mourns with you and stands by you. On our part, we shall do all that is possible to mitigate whatever hardship his death will bring", he assured.
Nwakile who was the Captain of the Mi-35 Helicopter crew died at the crash site, while the Co-Pilot, Flight Lieutenant N M Halilu, and the aircraft technician, Warrant Officer Augustine Nwanonenyi, survived the crash.
Obanikoro, while expressing sadness over the loss of the late selfless officer, said that his (Nwakile's) death was a gallant sacrifice for the peace and unity of Nigeria.
"It is with a heavy heart and deep sense of loss that I address you this morning as we gather here today for the burial of a brave gentleman officer who gave his life for the cause of peace".
"Flight Lieutenant Akweke Junior Nwakile died on July 21, 2014 in a helicopter crash while serving with the Joint Task Force (Operation Zaman Lafiya) in Bama, Bornu State. His death, though in the line of duty, was a gallant sacrifice for peace to reign in Nigeria", Obanikoro said.
"Though his aircraft was not brought down as a result of enemy action, I am told that he was able to force-land the aircraft when it malfunctioned, such that the other two crew members survived the crash.
“We must be therefore be proud of the gallant efforts of this young gentleman who proudly demonstrated the great spirit and tenacity of a combat helicopter pilot", he added.
Obanikoro urged that as members of the Armed Forces and the Nigerian nation to see his death as a call to duty to serve the nation and humanity.
"We must not let the sacrifice he has paid with his life to be in vain. As we continue to confront the present security challenges in some parts of the country, we should emulate the selflessness, courage and commitment exhibited by
flight lieutenant Nwakile and his colleagues", he advised.
The minister also conveyed the message of President Goodluck Jonathan, assuring maximum support to both the military and families of the fallen heroes who die in the line of duty.
Also speaking, the Chaplain of the NAF Protestant Church, Rev. Okechukwu Okoye urged the family to take solace in God and for the fact that the deceased died in service of fatherland.
Okoye said that the reality of life was that all must die one day, but the burial provides opportunity for the living to re-examine their lives to ensure that they will leave a positive legacy and ultimately make heaven.
He said: "We all share in the sorrow of losing a colleague, a friend and beloved brother. The condolence is to the family and the NAF to take solace in God and for the fact that you produced a son and officer that died for his country".
"It is time God has chosen for him to stand before the White Throne judgement to account for his life. The same applies to us that are alive for us to reassess our lives here on earth".