Death That Changes Kaduna Politics

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Late Patrick Yakowa

The death, on Saturday of former Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, may have significantly altered the political equation of the state, writes Olawale Olaleye
Like a soldier boy, the late Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, took many falls of political frustrations, stood tall amidst its orchestrated maneuverings and walked several miles of a journey hoped to throw up more challenges. But, he did not pull it through to the end. Like a walking shadow that life is, Yakowa fizzled out of reach for good last Saturday, December 15.
Apparently and for several considerations, Yakowa was primed to inspire and change the lives of the people of Kaduna State. Yet, like a comet that blazes across the evening sky and a rainbow which fades in the twinkling of an eye, he hurried off life’s stage of hustling and bustling, despite strutting and fretting several hours on the same stage.
Better described as ‘death at funeral’, Yakowa who had attended the burial ceremony of Pa Douglas, father of Mr. Oronto Douglas, Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, on Research and Documentation in Bayelsa State returned a dead man following a helicopter crash in Nembe-Okoroba area of the state that Saturday.
He was, however, not alone. With him on the ill-fated naval aircraft were former National Security Adviser (NSA), Andrew Azazi; their aides, Dauda Tsohol, Muhammed Kamal and two pilots, Commander Muritala Muhammed Daba and Lt. Adeyemi Sowole.
As sad and shocking as the news of Yakowa’s death was; life goes on. Immediately he was confirmed dead on Saturday, by Sunday, his deputy, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, was sworn in as the new governor of the state.
But that was not going to be the end to the politics of a state that is sharply divided along religious lines. His death, as it appears, has begun to change the face of the politics of the state and this might be the situation for a long time to come.

Yakowa and Kaduna Politics
As the first Christian-governor in Kaduna, Yakowa altered an age-long political tradition in the state. In 2003, he was appointed Secretary to the State Government in the Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi administration and by July 2005, he had become the deputy governor of the state, replacing Engineer Stephen Rijo Shekari. Shekari died on July 10 in Israel. The late Shekari was from Zango Kataf, in Kaduna South.
However, in December 2006 he aspired to be governor, but lost out to Vice-President Namadi Sambo, who later made him deputy.
Having served two administrations in his capacity as deputy governor, Yakowa completed sambo’s tenure, following the latter’s appointment as veepee. He went on to become the first Christian to govern Kaduna in the aftermath of the 2011 elections. Sambo and Makarfi were however instrumental to Yakowa’s political rise.
Unfortunately, apart from making history as the first Christian-governor of the state, he is today also, the first governor to die in office.
But the shift in power from the Muslims to the Christians has not gone down well with entrenched interests in the state. It was believed to have pitched the state against itself but Yakowa was able to subdue the tendencies until his passing on Saturday.
It was no wonder, therefore, that scores of Muslim youths reportedly flocked the streets in Kawo, Angwarimi, Tudun Wada Pawa, Angwan Dosa, Mararaban Rido and some parts of Zaria to celebrate the return of power to Kaduna North. And given the religious volatility of the state, the celebrations were understandable.

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The Journey to 2011
An indigene of Kaduna South senatorial district, Yakowa’s journey to the Government House was practically stifling. Not only did he survive the antics that characterised the governorship primary of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he fought a hard battle to emerge the governor. But the politics of the state which is patterned along religious divide manifested in the general election as he narrowly defeated his rival, Haruna Sae’ed of the Congress for Progress Change (CPC). Yakowa polled 1,334,319 to defeat Sae’ed, who had 1,133,564 votes.
His emergence, however, stamped the long agitation for power shift by the people of Southern Kaduna.
Kaduna after Yakowa
Yakowa’s death on Saturday has automatically changed the politics of the state and its direction. First is the mist of uncertainty hovering over the political fate of the people of Southern Kaduna. This is because with the alteration of the subsisting equation, it is not certain when someone of Southern Kaduna extraction would emerge governor, especially given the volatility of the state.
Again, the fact that Yero might also want to give the seat a full term shot in 2015 further forecloses the chances of another Southern Kaduna person. Yero is from Kaduna North as Sambo and Makarfi. Besides, precedents have been set across the country, from the states to the national level in a case of this nature even though Southern Kaduna had longed for the opportunity until the Yakowa chance availed itself. Both Makarfi and Sambo who had ruled back to back from 1999 until Yakowa took over were from Kaduna North.

Battle for Deputy Governorship
As the equation appears muddled up with the death of Yakowa which has paved the way for the return of a Muslim-governor, the quest for a new deputy has commenced. And this has naturally thrown up different permutations, especially the need to ensure political balancing on the one hand and perhaps, the imperative of pacifying the various interests loyal to the late governor.
Indications are, however, strong that Yero might appoint his deputy from Yakowa’s South, to maintain not necessarily the zonal balancing but also the political justification of the peace so far enjoyed in the state when Yakowa was governor.
Already, suggestions are coming up on those that may emerge the next deputy governor. Whilst this might sound incomprehensible, the name of Yakowa’s widow, Amina has continued to come up as a likely candidate to be favoured.
This, observers say is not just to calm nerves and compensate his immediate family, but also contain other tendencies loyal to the former governor. It is, however, not certain to what extent the speculation is genuine, especially for a woman who is still mourning and yet to get her mental state back.

Pondering the Kaduna 2015
Yakowa’s emergence as governor, having been deputy governor under two different administrations, was a relief for his people who had pondered their political future without an iota of certainty. But that dream was eclipsed by his sudden demise. Although, the slot of the deputy governor is sure to come the way of the people of Southern Kaduna, the other thing is: what happens in 2015 when another election is due?
Upon assuming office in 2010, Yakowa, just as Yero also said when taking the oath of office, promised to be governor for all. He understood the religious volatility of the state and knew that security and harmony of the people was pivotal. Much as there were challenges bordering on security, Yakowa held forth and made sure that religion as a factor was played down in both the public and private lives of the state. That, of course, accounted for the bit of sanity enjoyed until his death.

The Man, Yero
For close watchers of events in the state, the new Governor is simply Sambo’s man. He had over the time maintained a close relationship with the veepee when he held sway as governor. In fact, there were speculations that his nomination into the government of Yakowa by Sambo was to sustain his hold and influence in the government.
Yero, 44, has worked in a private firm, Nalado Nigerian Limited, a firm supposedly owned by Sambo as Chief Accountant in 1997 from where he rose to become Director, Finance and Administration in 2007.
It was from there he became Commissioner for Finance between 2007 and May 2010 when Sambo was governor, after which he became deputy governor to Yakowa in 2010 when Sambo emerged the veepee.

Sambo as Issue in Kaduna
Comfortably, with Yero as governor, the vice-president is fully in charge in Kaduna State. Sambo, without much ado, may now have a defining hold on his base in the state. Although, despite his new position as veepee, he has never ceased to lose certain elections in the state, the emergence of Yero may however reorder such political abnormality in the state’s body polity.
However, with power shifting to Zaria in the wake of Yakowa’s death, the question of 2015 and the future of the Southern Kaduna people remain the big question because what naturally follows that is the time that power will return to Southern Kaduna.

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