THE late governor of Kaduna State, Sir Patrick Yakowa, was a man after the history books. He was the first Christian to serve as governor of Kaduna. After serving two administrations as deputy governor, he completed the tenure of his former boss and now vice-president, Namadi Sambo, and then went on to win his own election in 2011.
Today, he is the first governor from the state to die in office. Yesterday, scores of Muslim youths reportedly flocked the streets in Kawo, Angwarimi, Tudun Wada Pawa, Angwan Dosa, Mararaban Rido and some parts of Zaria celebrating apparently the return of power to Kaduna North. In a religiously volatile state like Kaduna, such celebrations might not be out of place. Yakowa’s former deputy, a Muslim, Alhaji Mukhtar Yero, has taken the oath of office to continue where Yakowa stopped.
After taking the oath office, Yero stated in his speech, “I sincerely desire to build on the good foundation that my boss had laid.”
In paying tribute to his former boss, Yero noted how Yakowa tried to “secure, unite, and develop the state,” and he “invested so much on this and had started reaping the fruits of his labour. His wish was to consolidate and advance on the achievements so far made and hence, tagged Kaduna State’s 2013 budget as Budget of Consolidation and Advancement.”
Yakowa, the first indigene of Kaduna South Senatorial zone, to be elected governor, was a product of the strangulating politics of Kaduna. Ahead of the governorship primary for the 2011 polls, many thought that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) politics would consume him. But an astute politician, he rode the waves and won the PDP ticket. It was incidental that Yakowa was a part of the contending forces in the state. And in 2011, he polled 1,334,319 votes to clinch victory over his closest opponent and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) candidate, Haruna Sae’ed, who polled 1,133,564 votes.
His emergence was up to the political interest of Sambo and former governor, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi. Added to that was the presence of aspirants like Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, who was eventually disqualified. He was disqualified because his tax papers were incomplete, for which he blamed Sambo.
Yakowa, for many people from Southern Kaduna, was a symbol of the long clamour for power shift in Kaduna. In 2003, Yakowa was appointed Secretary to the Government in the Makarfi Administration and in July 2005, he was appointed deputy governor to replace Engineer Stephen Rijo Shekari, who had died on July 10 in Israel. The late Shekari was from Zango Kataf, in Kaduna South. In December 2006 he aspired to be governor, but lost out to Sambo, who made him deputy. Sambo and Makarfi were instrumental in various ways for the development of Yakowa as politician and governor.
And with his death, an air of uncertainty shrouds the political survival of Southern Kaduna. The question is to what extent will his death alter the political configuration of the state? What is apparent is that Southern Kaduna has lost the chance to produce a governor that spent a full tenure in office. Will Yero, who is also from Kaduna North like Sambo and Makarfi, step down in 2015 and ask the Southern Kaduna zone to throw up a candidate to finish Yakowa’s tenure. This scenario is unlikely, following the precedent set by President Goodluck Jonathan when he did not step down for the North to produce someone to complete the tenure of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in the 2011 election.
The Southern Kaduna senatorial zone had waited for a while to grab the chance that made Yakowa governor. In 1999, Makarfi, who is from Kaduna North, was elected governor. Makarfi spent two terms before Sambo, who also hails from the Kaduna North took over in 2007.
And it is almost certain that Yero, the incumbent governor will appoint his deputy from the Kaduna South, to maintain the political balance that had secured peace and kept everyone satisfied in the state. With the belief that the next deputy governor would come from the Christian-dominated Southern Kaduna, there are long faces asking that ‘certainly we are not likely to rejoice over that for a number of reasons,’ after previous nominees, Shekari and Yakowa have died in office.
It is a cheering prospect for a people who since the history of the state had only one chance of occupying the seat of power, a chance cut short by death, after two years. What will 2015 offer the people of Southern Kaduna?
When he took over from Sambo in 2010, Yakowa was compelled to reassure people in the religiously volatile state that he was governor for all, irrespective of religion.
Yero, 44 is regarded as one of the closest associates of Sambo’s in the last administration. It is said that Sambo nominated him in order to keep a strong presence in the government. His relationship with Sambo goes back awhile. As far back as 1997, Yero worked in a private firm, Nalado Nigerian Limited (Sambo’s firm) as Chief Accountant; he later rose to become Director, Finance and Administration in 2007.
After Sambo’s election in 2007, Yero was appointed the Commissioner of Finance from 2007 to May 2010. And he became deputy governor in 2010, following the selection of Sambo as Vice-President.
Yakowa had said of Yero: “He is a fine gentleman with whom we have been working closely for the past three years in the State Executive Council. I have confidence in him and believe that we shall together, under the guidance of God, steer the affairs of Kaduna to greater heights.”
Yero, as governor simply means that Sambo’s influence in the Government House is still as strong.
The Vice-President may have now have a firmer grip and control of power base on the state by virtue of the fact that the new governor was his nominee as deputy-governor, when late Yakowa stepped into his shoes as governor, follow his (Sambo’s) appointment as Vice-President. Meanwhile, the death of Yakowa will open a new chapter in the political terrain into a new political game, with power now shifting to Zaria and the environs. A fresh insight is expected to open into what may likely be the pattern of political relationships towards 2015 elections with Southern Kaduna people losing a major player and one of their leading politician. The question in the state is how soon or whether power would ever return to the Southern Kaduna axis.
As political leaders, socio-cultural groups, religious leaders and other opinion leaders continue to mourn Yakowa, they also proffered words of advice to Yero on how he could benefit from Yakowa in governing a complex state like Kaduna.
Among those who visited was Sambo and former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon. They hailed Yakowa for what he did to maintain peace and tranquility in the state.
The Vice President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu, who is also the Textile Workers Union Secretary General said, “with his death, our union has lost a voice for re-industrialisation of the North in general and revival of textile industry in Kaduna in particular. Yakowa was among the few standing governors making a case for industry in the North.
“As deputy governor under the administration Sambo, the late governor was the Chairman of the Textile Revival Committee, which led to unprecedented state policy initiatives on the revival of the industry. As governor, he with the Vice President helped to reopen the hitherto closed UNT Plc in Kaduna, which has commendably re-engaged over 1500 workers”.
“Notwithstanding the serial security challenge in the state, Yakowa never betrayed emotions, sentiments nor wavered. On the contrary, he remained to the last committed to the peace and industrial development of the State. We bear witness to the remarkable achievements of the late governor towards ensuring sustainable growth and development of Kaduna, which included prompt visit and intervention at unfortunate scenes of violence.”
Wondering what will be the fate of Kaduna after Yakowa, the Labour chieftain said, “the best way to honour the late governor is to sustain his effort towards peace and industrial development of Kaduna.”
The JNI in a statement signed by the Secretary General, Sheikh Khalid Abubakar Aliyu stated: “We call on the new governor to govern with the fear of Allah, equity, just and fairness as he discharges his mantle of leadership, while praying that Allah’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.”
Meanwhile, ACF National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, has also remarked “we received with severe shock and heavy heart the news about the sudden deaths of governor Yakowa of Kaduna state and former NSA, General Andrew Azazi, and four others, which fatal event took place through crash of a helicopter in Bayelsa state”.
“The losses are not only to their families and associates but also 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 would come when it would come.”
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