The death of Patrick Yakowa may have robbed the Southern Kaduna people of the opportunity to rule the state soon again.
To the bereaved wife of the former Kaduna State Governor, Mrs. Amina Yakowa, it is still like a dream as she welcomes sympathisers to the expansive sitting room at the official residence of the Yakowas at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna. She has not come to terms with the fact that her husband of 34 years, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, had died in a helicopter crash on his way back from the burial of the father of Oronto Douglas, on Dec. 15, 2012. Douglas is President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s aide on Research, Documentation and Strategy. It was a day that may never be forgotten. The development had thrown the entire state and indeed, the nation into mourning. The state had declared a seven-day mourning in honour of the late governor, who many have described as a gentleman and an astute administrator. There is a uniqueness in Yakowaâ€™s life and times: he was born in December, married in December and died in December.
The late governorâ€™s life had been an embodiment of history. First, he remained the pioneer Christian governor of Kaduna State and the first from the southern part of the state that had for several decades clamoured for political power. Yakowa was the Secretary to the State Government before he replaced the late Deputy Governor, Stephen Rijo Shekari, who died in Israel in 2005 during the Ahmed Makarfi Administration. He later served his boss and now Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, before the latterâ€™s elevation as vice-president after the demise of former President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua. He went on to win his own election in 2011.
Born on Dec. 1, 1948 in Fadan Kagoma, Jemaâ€™a Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Yakowa, who graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with a B.Sc (Social Sciences) in June 1972, was a career civil servant, who was at various times, Divisional Officer, Secretary in the Military Governorâ€™s Office, Local Government Sole Administrator, Permanent Secretary and Commissioner for Health, Works and Transport; and then a Director in the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development. Unfortunately, he also became the first governor to die in office in the state. The development has been attracting mixed reactions. For instance, an unconfirmed report had it that in the northern part of the state, there was jubilation over the death of the governor. It was not surprising because the state has been polarised along religious and ethnic lines. The people of the southern part of the state are, therefore, left to bury their dead.
The new governor of the state, Alhaji Ramallan Yero, 44 (from the northern part of the state), who was sworn in as the chief executive officer of the volatile state by the Chief Judge of the state, Rahila Cudjoe, had said, â€œI sincerely desire to build on the good foundation that my boss had laid.â€
Yero described the late governor as â€œamiableâ€ and â€œloved by all.â€
â€œIt is with heaviness of heart that I make this speech having just fulfilled a constitutional requirement of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The sad event that befell Kaduna State yesterday (Saturday) is already public knowledge.
â€œOur amiable governor, Sir Patrick Yakowa has suddenly left us by answering the call of our creator. Indeed, from Him we all came and to Him we would all, one day, return. In between these periods is the privilege we have to serve humanity.
â€œHis humility, dedication to duty, fairness to all and sense of humour endeared him to many, near and far, irrespective of religious, tribal or sectional inclinations. No wonder, he was given the pseudonym Nakowa.
â€œThe vision of (Sir Patrick) Yakowa was to secure, unite and develop Kaduna State. He invested so much on this and started reaping the fruits of his labour. He wished to consolidate and advance on the achievements so far made and hence tagged Kaduna Stateâ€™s 2013 budget, which he presented to the House of Assembly on Dec. 13, 2012, as the â€˜Budget of Consolidation and Advancement,â€™ Yero said.
Among the stream of eminent personalities at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, who came to condole with the family and people of the state were Sambo; former Heads of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Muhammadu Buhari.
â€œYakowa was a patriot, nationalist, a detribalised Nigerian, who supported all that came his way,â€ Sambo said.
And to Gowon, the late Yakowa was unequalled in terms of his passion for the safety, unity and development of Kaduna State and the people.
According to the Congress for Progressive Changeâ€™s presidential candidate, the late governor was a â€œgreat technocrat, a shrewd politician and conscientious leader,â€ who was dexterous in managing the affairs of Kaduna State as a mini Nigeria.
No doubt, Yakowa, on assumption of office in 2010 after the elevation of his former boss, Sambo, had fought many battles: The battle to keep the volatile state united and still satisfy his own people from the southern part of the state. In less than three years of his administration, Yakowa had been confronted with sundry religious crises with political undertone. For instance, in his short reign as the stateâ€™s helmsman, the state had witnessed 13 bomb attacks, including the latest one at the Jaji Military Cantonment, where scores of Christian worshippers, including senior military officers, died. All this, according to a source, was to frustrate the governor. However, Yakowa remained undaunted. He came, saw but was conquered by death!
â€œAll the crises in the state were geared towards rendering the governor ineffective. Cast back your mind to the early days of the Ahmed Makarfi Administration in early 2000 when the state was engulfed in ethno-religious crises. The powers that be then did not want him. They felt who was he to govern a complex state like Kaduna but when they discovered the stuff he was made of, the hostility ceased. Mark my words, there will be no crisis in Kaduna again with the exit of Yakowa,â€ the source said.
It has been encomiums all the way but the question now is, what is the future of the Southern Kaduna people with the demise of one of their political leaders? According to the chairman of the Middle Belt Youth Forum, Mr. Jonathan Asake, the death of Yakowa, no doubt, has robbed the people of Southern Kaduna another opportunity to control the Kashim Ibrahim House.
Asake, a former member of the House of Representatives, argued that the state would miss the late Yakowa, whom he described as a â€œbalanced and just leader.â€ His exit, he noted, would affect the politics of 2015 because there will be new permutations. And indeed, the exit of Yakowa will change the political equation of the nationâ€™s most volatile state. What is certain is that the people of the Southern part of the state have lost the opportunity of a full term in office and it is apparent that they may not regain it in 2015 because of the strangulated zoning formula of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
Political watchers in the state believe that with the emergence of Yero, the vice-president now has a firmer grip and control of power in the state because the new governor is and will continue to remain his associate, knowing full well that he (Yero) was solely Samboâ€™s nominee as deputy governor when in 2010 the late Yakowa became governor. The death of Yakowa will also open a new political game in the state as power has now shifted to the Northern Senatorial zone. Many now believe that the new administration of Yero is a continuation of the Sambo Administration in the state.
However, in the words of the Secretary-General of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Isa Aremu, who wondered what will be the fate of the state after Yakowa, â€œThe best way to honour the late governor is to sustain his effort towards peace and industrial development of Kaduna.â€
The Jamaâ€™atu Nasril Islam society, in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, said, â€œWe call on the new governor to govern with the fear of Allah, equity and fairness, while praying that Allahâ€™s guidance will be with him as he pilots the affairs of the state. We call on all and sundry to give him the desired support.â€
The Arewa Consultative Forumâ€™s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, said, â€œThe losses (Yakowa and others) are not only to their families and associates, but to their states and the nation, precisely because they have gone at the time their services are needed the most. But we must take solace in the fact that death is a necessary end and will come when it will come.â€