At exactly 4.06pm on Thursday, the remains of the late Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, were committed to mother earth at his country home in Fadan Kagomain Jema’a Local Government Area of the state.
Among those present to bid him farewell were President Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bamanga Tukur; Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah, and Cardinal John Onaiyekan.
At Saint Paul Catholic Church where the burial mass was held, his chidren and hundreds of kinsmen and women wept uncontrollably.
Yakowa died in a helicopter crash in Bayelsa State last Saturday. Ex-National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, and four others were also killed in the accident.
In their tributes at the service, Jonathan, Mark, Kukah and others praised the late governor’s commitment to national development, saying he died at an “appointed time”.
Jonathan, who described December 15, the day of the crash as a dark Saturday, regretted that the country had lost “a bridge builder”.
He said the deceased was an embodiment of honesty, love and unity, and urged all Nigerians to emulate him.
The President said, “Yakowa talked about peace, love, and unity always. He was a nationalist but death comes when it will come. When it comes it is what matters. His death is unfortunate, but it is the Will of God. I was encouraged by the speech of the widow (Amina) that Yakowa’s death brought unity and peace.
“Yakowa was a nationalist. He played his roles very well as a civil servant of the old not as a civil servant of today when a director has more houses than Dangote.
“ There was no ethnic or religious divide in his blood.
“It is time for all Nigerians to preach peace, love and unity because this is what Yakowa represented when he was alive.”
He pledged the support of the Federal Government to the immediate family of the deceased.
The President also appealed to leaders to watch their utterances in public and in private.
He said Yakowa died at his appointed time by God, and urged the people to ignore those who are spreading suspicious stories about his death.
Jonathan debunked the purported claim that a section of the religious divide in the state rejoiced over the death of Yakowa.
He noted that former Head of State, Maj.-Gen Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, had cancelled his 70th birthday in honour of Yakowa.
The President also called on Governor Yero to ignore those advocating the politics of exclusion in the state.
He said, “Do not be tempted by what the wicked people claimed: that the Muslims have taken back what belong to them.
“The politics of exclusion should be reversed for a creation of a just and even society.”
Senator Mark said Yakowa emphasised the virtue of peace, love and unity until his death.
Mark recalled that a few weeks ago when he visited Buhari over the death of his daughter, all the discussions they had centred on the peace and unity of the people of the state.
He said, “Yakowa emphasised the virtues of unity and peace throughout his reign as Kaduna governor. And if we fail to imbibe these good virtues, the death of Yakowa will be in vain.”
Yero reiterated his earlier pledge to uphold the vision of the late governor.
He said, “It is, therefore, significant to note that his death has brought the people of Kaduna State together irrespective of religious and tribal persuasions. While we mourn the painful loss, we should strive to keep alive his aspiration of uniting the people of the state into a formidable force for development. This is the only way we can remember him.”
Speaking also, Kukah noted that the death of Yakowa was an act of God.
He said the deceased made his mark as the first child from the Christian dominated southern part of Kaduna to attain top positions at various levels of government.
Kukah said Yakowa also broke a jinx by becoming the first Christian executive governor of Kaduna.
He said the feat had seemed unattainable in the state because of certain interests who were playing the politics of exclusion, based on religion.
Kukah said the achievements of Yakowa as governor, particularly in development and in building bridges of unity, were testimonies to the fact that governance was not an exclusive right of a group.
The Bishop enjoined youths from southern Kaduna to emulate the good traits of Yakowa and be confident in themselves so that they could achieve lofty positions in the state and beyond. He urged them not to surrender to doubts and feelings of inferiority.
Others prominent Nigerians in attendance at the funeral were Governors Babangida Aliyu of Niger; Gabriel Suswam of Benue State; Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; and the Chairman of Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State.