It is a double irony that the former governor of Kaduna State, the late Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, came into office in fatalistic circumstances and also left the stage in an unfortunate similar mode. Even more ironical is the fact that this erstwhile technocrat had, a fortnight precedent to the helicopter crash that resulted in his painful exit, prayed at his parents’ graveside as part of activities marking his 64th birthday on December 1—not knowing that stingless death was lurking in Nembe, Bayelsa State!
Also in the ill-fated journey was the former National Security Adviser (NSA), the late Gen Owoye Andrew Azazi, a gentleman and an officer who rose to the pinnacle of his career by dint of professionalism, diligence and commitment to service. In him the nation has definitely lost a brilliant soldier who distinguished himself in all positions he held, particularly in his capacity as a Trojan of the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps.
For Yakowa, the best thing the Kaduna State government can do to his memory is to immortalise him for his acclaimed life of service to the people of the state, dispassionate leadership and tolerance of people with dissenting views because of the bitter religious divide in the state. His emergence as the first Christian governor of Kaduna State precipitated a crisis that almost subverted the electorate’s will. The inaugural controversy over his Christian background notwithstanding, he accommodated everyone on his national profile as an uncommon bridge builder who restored peace to Kaduna by breaking the wall between Christians and Moslems.
It is regrettable that some disgruntled people rejoiced over Yakowa’s death as if the man was pitted against followers of any faith while he was here. This is a vivid demonstration of the lack of appreciation of the tenets of the various religions which all advocate sympathy in a time like this. It also hallmarks a vitiation of our moral fibre and disrespect for the dead which even runs contrary to African traditions.
Both Yakowa and Azazi were reputed to have displayed profuse humility, patriotism, equity, fair play and justice in all their interactions with people in their multifarious calls to duty and service to the fatherland. Humanity is yet to unravel why good men, like this quintessential duo, pass on untimely and usually in cruel and avoidable circumstances! It is instructive, however, to underscore here that it is not how long we live that matters, but the imprints we leave behind. Both men’s contributions to national evolution through their respective career paths remain indelible legacies.
We also note that Yakowa and Azazi distinguished themselves in their respective callings. While the former excelled in civil service at both state and federal levels culminating in the zenith of federal permanent secretary appointment before making a success of politics. The latter, on his part, at various times, was Director of Military Intelligence, Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Division, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and finally NSA, the first person outside the North to hold that position.
The shocking passage of these men leaves a sad memory. We commit their souls to the repose of the Almighty and implore God to grant their families, friends, associates and the nation the fortitude to bear their unfortunate demise. We are consoled by the fact that they lived well—a development which almost everyone acknowledges.
Nigerians in public stewardship should also aspire to live above board like these exemplary men. They did not live a life of compromise, corruption or profligacy, but pursued straightforwardness, fraternal bonding and excellence in all that they did which explains the national grief.
May their souls and those of others involved in the tragedy rest in peace.