Precisely one year after he died in a helicopter crash in Okoroba, Bayelsa state on December 15, 2012, indigenes of southern Kaduna where the late governor of the state, Patrick Yakowa came from, have expressed sadness that the Nigerian Airforce and Aviation authorities are yet to disclose to the public the cause of the crash which also took the life of the former national security adviser, Andrew Azazi.
At a memorial lecture and thanksgiving service held in Kaduna on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of Yakowa’s death, his kinsmen demanded that the Federal Government should make its findings known to Nigerians concerning the cause of the helicopter crash that took the life of the late governor and others .
President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Mr Ephraim Goje told Channels Television during the memorial church service that they were disappointed with the Federal Government for failing in its responsibilities of protecting the lives of the citizens.
The ceremony which took place at the Umaru Yar’adua Hall was attended by family members, friends and prominent Nigerians including Vice President Namadi Sambo, the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, state governors, ministers, traditional and religious leaders.
Sambo and Tukur in their separate tributes emphasised the need for a peaceful co-existence among the various religions and tribes in the country, as there cannot be any meaningful development in an atmosphere of rancour. They described the late Yakowa as a bridge builder who built bridges across all divides and offered selfless and patriotic service to Kaduna state and the nation at large.
Also paying glowing tribute to his late boss, the Kaduna state governor, Mukhtar Yero maintained that Yakowa was a man of peace and the people, an apostle of peace, assuring that the best way to immortalise him is by sustaining his virtues.
On his part, Governor Isah Yuguda of Bauchi state said that most of the religious crises in the northern part of the country were politically motivated, questioning why there were no such incidents in the south western part of the country which also had majority of Muslims and Christians.
Yakowa’s widow, Amina said the outpouring of emotions by dignitaries at the occasion showed that her late husband lived a life worth remembering, noting that the family had accepted the loss as part of God’s purpose which mortals might not always understand.
Earlier, the guest lecturer at the occasion, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu in his paper entitled “Challenges of Responsible leadership in Nigeria” said that “a true leader must understand that leadership is a privilege and not a right”, and as such should treat his/her office with every sense of responsibility, commitment and gratitude. He maintained that Yakowa was a leader, a gentleman, a builder of peace and a developer of bridges for reconciliation and forgiveness.
He said that some leaders were never prepared enough to leave office because of the uncertainties outside; and identified corruption, bad followership, lack of orientation of the followers, and systemic government failures as some of the challenges facing leadership in Nigeria.
At the thanksgiving service held at Saint John’s Catholic Church, Kaduna, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, while extolling the good qualities of the late Yakowa called on Nigerians to elect leaders based on merit and not on religious and ethnic sentiments.
Others however insisted that the authorities should make the probe into the helicopter crash public.