Written December 14th 2013
Sun set on the gentle life of His Excellency Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa on 15th December 2012 in the creeks of South-South State of Bayelsa. On that Black Saturday of the gracious month of December, a Nigeria Navy Acusta helicopter annihilated Yakowa, Gen. Patrick Azazzi, Elder Dauda Tsoho and two Navy officers. Yakowa was in Bayelsa to attend the burial of the father of a Presidential aide on Strategy and Documentation Barr. Oronto Douglas. Aviation disasters in African’s most populous political clime, aren’t stories,anymore, so, the news of this and other mishaps, caught nobody by surprise.
Gentleman Yakowa was a man of all seasons and a crown eagle whose wings of efficiency and dedication got stronger with age. While in on earth, he was one of a few compatriots that fate, hardwork, tenacity made them sit in executive councils of the three layers of governments. He was Local Government Chairman, Member of State and Federal Executive councils, and State and federal permanent secretary. In between these, he headed many committees at the state and federal levels. This made him a rare specie and a barn of experience in the political atmosphere of the nation.
However, the most important development in his public life happened on 20th May 2010, a day he took over the mantle of leadership in the State because of Arc Namadi’s alleviation to the post of the Vice President of Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan. All these upward movements of political office holders at the federal level and Kaduna State were engineered by the journey to the great beyond embarked by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Promotion of Namadi to the office of the Vice President was enveloped in many conspiracy theories within the State and in most of core northern States. The most widely peddled theory was, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) incubated and hatched a plan of adding another Christian Governor in the North, a region of nineteen states that has only two Governors- despite existence of Christians in millions.Tension skyrocketed to the skies, thereby forcing the leader of Muslim Umma in Nigeria the Sultan of Sokoto to issue a statement to melt-down a pyramid of tension the development erected. Despite the rampaging rumour and tension that permeated the state, Yakowa made a date with history on 20th May 2010. His ascension created a personal as well as general history in the annals of the state. It was the first time a Christian became an Executive Governor of Kaduna. By accident or design the military that ruled the country longer than politicians never posted a Christian to rule Kaduna throughout their misadventure into the political terrain that started in 1966.
On assumption of office, Yakowa’s actions and inactions were tailored by his experience, knowledge of the operating environment, and forces that pull the strings of power behind the scene. The State’s political terrain is cliental and dictated in a mafiaso known as THE KADUNA MAFIA.He wobbled the slippery tight rope of balancing these competing interests, that made him hold the balls of peace and development in the air. This unique circumstance rendered experience he acquired from 1972 that he started as a District Officer almost useless because of ethno-religious divisions that creeped into the state from 1987. Before 1987, there were minor disagreements but they never resulted to violence killings and arsons of believers of other faiths. Even the struggles by many independent Southern Kaduna Communities who were unjustly merged by Europeans into the Caliphatic system of Futajalo Fulanis that fought and defeated the Habe rulers didn’t ignite bloody skirmishes we saw: in 1987 Kafanchan clashes, 1992 Zangon-Kataf entho-Religious crisis, 2000/2001 Sharia crises, and 2011 post elections upheavals. His was akin to a man given the onerous endeavor of refereeing a tango between two charging buffalos aiming at each other’s jugular. He took most the wild kicks from both sides, and at some points both sides believed he wasn’t an impartial umpire.
Because of tension and intelligence streams suggesting one heinous schemes or the other, much energy and resources went on; physical and administrative security, peace building, and appeasement of the two forces. Peace and security became the only agenda before his government. It wasn’t making hospitals functional, effective delivery of primary healthcare, renovation of decaying infrastructures, improving the learning environment, or initiating of peoples’s oriented projects but insuring the swords are kept I their sheaths, match sticks kept in their packets, and people sleep without hearing the zing-zing of guns and boom-boom of bombs. This drained the financial poll of the state.
Because his mandate came with sweat and blood of most of his Christians brothers of Southern Kaduna, a revolution of great expectations sprang up like an Amazon forest. Many participated in his 2011 political agenda with the hope that that will give Southern Kaduna a chance to balance aged systemic lopsidedness and also create an economic and political agenda for Southern Kaduna people in the State and the nation that will outlived him. Most expectations of Southern Kaduna people can only be achieved if Yakowa emerged as a revolutionary that got power through the bullet not the ballots. Young elements willing to climb the economic and political ladder characteristic of Nigerian society got frustrated because it couldn’t be business of creating emergency millionaires and young public office holder like what happened in the two regimes before his.
While his brothers were crying of lack of patronage, elements in the northern half of the state were also throwing stones of allegations of favoritism. They alleged that, he gave his brothers the juiciest appointments in the State. Their allegation refused to take cognisance of the recent history of the state. Both Makarfi and Namadi made their Hausa Fulani Muslims PPS, Chief of State, CSO, Commissioner of Finance, and State Chairmen of PDP. But when Yakowa towed the same lane, he was accused of irredentism and favouratism. It was a long tradition in the State and PDP that Governors are leaders of the Party at the state level. And between 1999-2007 Makarfi made his political soul mate Alh. Makama Rigachikun party Chairman. In 2007 Namadi made his nephew Ya’u resigned his membership of Kaduna State House of Assembly and become the State party Chairman. When Yakowa came on board and a mini convention was organised in tandem with certain developments in the body polity, he made Amb. Nuhu Bajoga the State Chairman in line with existing tradition. He was bashed left, right and centre for been a copycat of a standing tradition . He merely said, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Despite all the turbulences , diversions , deliberate provocations, and shameless blackmail, Danmasanin Gwong kept his cool and lived by his promised of been a Governor for all. He never, not for once , lose sight of his St. Francis of Assissi prayer which was his guiding principle- from Adam. Where there was injury he healed, where there was sorrow, he provided comfort, where there was skirmishes he provided peace. These were his greatest achievements and immoral legacies, and nothing more. Any yardstick of measuring his success or failure that isn’t anchored on these, is baseless and defective.
Unfortunately, when this great son of the soil answered the call of his creator to eternal glory to rest because he kept the faith and ran a good race, jubilations broke out in certain parts of the state. Not because a modern Pharaoh exited, not because an unfaithful public servant died, but not because a kleptocrats melted to answer queries from his creator. But because a Christian Governor died, and because Kaduna is to Nigeria Muslims like what Vatican is to Catholics(One of them made that known to us in the New Media). This wickedness and barbarism was not only perpetrated by ordinary people but highly respected clerics participated by creating conspiracy theories about his demise. The same cleric that he made a case for his release when he was locked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in connection with a conversation he had with Christmas Day pant bomber in United States, Muttalab. Another baffling angle was lack of a strong condemning voice by others, who are now exhibiting an after thought defensive mechanism cum damage control tactic that celebrating death of other runs agains their religious injunctions. Governor Babangida Aliyu, the Chairman of northern governors forums, was the only exception. Others refused condemning that, but found pleasure in sending only condolence messages and paying pretentious visits to the widow and her kids.
Judging events from 20th May 2010 to the day he died, there is no doubt that there are multiple questions to ask about his demise. Who were with him in Bayelsa? Who flew the helicopter? Where was he from? Which religion was he? Were there independent observers in the committees set to investigate the crash? Was the helicopter procured by the Navy for mission it went in Bayelsa.? Until these questions are properly answered , and very clearly, I will continue to habour my suspicion that his death was an incident not an accident. We are aware that Nigeria Airspace Management and the body that owns the flying object formed committees to look into immediate and remote causes of the mishap. As we celebrate his one year journey to heaven, very little is known or heard about their work. For a proper understanding of this murder or accident in Bayelsa, UN must come in and dust the file on a fresh investigation drive.
Angels in heaven,demons in Kaduna and other northern Nigeria rejoiced his death. Angels rejoiced because a faithful servant went home to rest, while the demons rejoiced because a Christian who was supposed not to be their Governor died. Hope those who rejoiced will live till eternity, otherwise, too bad.