Let me enter a caveat: I have never met Air Vice Marshall Paul Dimfwina Nungkopba. All that I have heard and or known about him are snippets which may have been picked from his relations; while in the course of his tour of duty as an Air Force Officer.

Several years ago when I came across the name for the first time, I had thought he was from Rivers State; it sounds so or so I thought, therefore I gave little attention; not knowing he shares the same ethnic nationality and was a stone throw from my village, Tabulung. My lack of interest was going to hunt me later.

If you thought so too, you are dead wrong about his origin: He is Ngas from Tali village of Nemel of Kabwir District of Kanke local government area of Plateau State. He was the third but first male child of Dimfwina Nungkopba. His father, Dimfwina Nungkopba was reported to have migrated from Nemel to Sharam, near Kabwir on account of reasons surrounding certain inexplicable deaths in his family; where he lived and died September 2002.

If only I had kept track of his service to his fatherland. However, what we have been able to bring out here are some of the fond recollections I have heard some of his course mates and family members relay of him, while alive and played pivotal roles for Nigeria and community members.

Today, however, I know better who he is and why he is being celebrated in death. He died August 23, 2020. Taken into context, both names have significant meanings as to treat lightly; and only those who can interpret them may be able to situate the circumstances that gave birth to him.

He had attended one of the nation’s celebrated mission schools: Boys’ Secondary School, Gindiri; an institution my dad had wanted me to attend sometime in 1974. Providence had literally pushed in my place, my younger brother and today, Pastor Raymond Gobum is serving in the Lord’s vineyard; having ‘abandoned’ journalism some years ago.

He was, as yours sincerely gathered from some of his class mates; a very intelligent man who was a dedicated SU, a sobriquet for students who gave their lives only to studies and Christian fellowship while at school. Nothing mattered except more of the Bible and studies; as the routine while he lasted in school. But there was a trait that was not lost in him: He was lanky and tall and couldn’t fail to be a candidate for the military.

On graduation from BSS, two of them were lucky on first attempt for the 36 NDA Regular Course; Amos Jikdang enlisted into the Army, but didn’t complete while Paul Dimfwina Nungkopba got his first love as the Air Force gave him the opportunity to develop his capacities. Solomon Paul, their set mate enlisted in the Navy as member of the 37 Regular Course, having been on the reserve list the previous year. Those who knew his antecedence as a quiet student all through except in matters related to church and academic activities while in school hardly believed he had settled for the military. That was where God wanted him to serve the nation, and he gave his best.

The Ngas, as most other native language speakers have good reasons to give their children certain names, usually on account of a circumstance. While some may be unique, in some cases however, there are some that mock and or attack or deride the circumstances of their families. That being the case, I gathered from Tongshinen Dimfwina, Paul’s younger brother that a number of reasons may have been responsible for the two names: Dimfwina Nungkopba. They are profoundly significant as they give the picture of a family’s struggle to keep its head above the waters despite other forces that may have worked against it. Such was his case; nonetheless, as you read this, it is history today.

From indications, he had several challenging appointments while serving; thus bringing the best out of him. Before his death, he had risen to the position of Chief of Communication and Information System (CCIS) HQ NAF, Abuja. Whether it was at Delta, Operation Lafiya Dole, Jaji, Port Harcourt, and Ministry of Defence or in the last appointment before his passage, Air Vice Marshall Paul did not disappoint; he was in the class that diligent officers are always known-delivering their best.

He was born into a polygamous family, where children of the different mothers had to compete to either go to school and or take to other vocations. His father had 12 children, no wonder, his secondary school days were not easy for him however; with the strong support of his mother, Mrs. Sarah (Natau) Dimfwina, from Dawaki who was the third wife of his father; and despite not being literate, she couldn’t settle for less for her children’s education. She ensured he went to school as were the others, even if it meant that she sacrificed everything she had to ensure he had a future from the scholarship she was investing in for her children.

Tongshinen Dimfwina, his younger brother, told this reporter that ‘our father was a trader and farmer while our mother was a full time housewife who was into petty trading as well. Growing up was not easy; being the first male child from a polygamous family, our mum being the third wife of Dimfwina. Children’s education and welfare were left at the expense of the mothers. Through sheer determination and focus, Paul sailed through education with excellent performance from primary to Defence Academy and professional training’.

He may not have been the best however, he could be counted as always among the top in Boys’ Secondary School, Gindiri set 84 class. At BSS he was made a prefect and later the captain of Carver House.

The grief in the loss of the senior officer has not been lost on his family, what more that he was a rallying point for them. If he was close to the family, it was because he took the responsibility of shouldering the needs of the members, without selection if they were from his mother. So long as they were from the loins of Dimfwina, he gave them his shoulder. No wonder, Ngas sons and daughters as well as others found recourse in seeking his assistance each time the occasion demanded for it.

Such was the same measure extended to several others who came his way; no wonder, the outpouring of emotions at his demise were noticed all over. Whether it was the Ngas Youth Movement or the parent, Ngas Development Association, he played roles that are without doubt complimentary to the development of the people. He was said not to have considered his station as one that should make him feel above the roles other compatriots avoid when confronted.

Air Vice Marshal Paul Nungkopba Dimfwina was born on April 28, 1964. He was enlisted on September 23, 1984 as a member of NDA 36 Regular Course. Before his assumption of duty as CCIS in July 19, he was the PIMT Coordinator HQ NAF. It has been said of how proficient he was as a pilot officer that higher responsibilities were allegedly being considered for him before his death.

The civil and military courses at Kaduna, Enugu, Jaji, Ghana, South Africa, Pakistan, Port Harcourt, Italy, and several other countries had prepared him well enough for defence and disaster  management, peace keeping and flying operations support, as much as other services.

Getting to the peak is not easy for Air Vice Marshal Paul Dimfwina Nungkopba. He had also flown the following aircraft; Bulldog 123, MI-34S, Robinson 44, MI-35P, AW 109 LUH and EC 135. The late senior officer was happily married to Mrs. Janet Paul Dimfwina and blessed with two boys, Daniel Jurbe, David and one girl, Deborah Kyenpia. His hobbies include observing nature, reading, making friends, listening to music and playing golf.

He was buried on September 11, 2020 at the Abuja Military Cemetery along Airport road. If anything, his death has robbed the service and the nation of an officer who desired that Nigeria would be given the best. Even in death, your landing will not experience any rough weather, as you deserve a smooth disembarking.

 

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