He was a man of peace–Wife
He asked me to travel with him–VP’s aide
An insight into the last moments of Kaduna state Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, who was killed on Saturday in a helicopter crash, emerged yesterday as his widow, Dame Amina Patrick Yakowa, recalled the events of the day.
Yakowa and the immediate past National Security Adviser to the President, General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), as well as four other men – a friend of Yakowa’s, Mr Dauda Tsoho; Azazi’s aide, Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal, and the two pilots, Commander Murtala Mohammed Daba and Lt Adeyemi O. Sowole – were killed instantly when the chopper in which they were travelling to Port Harcourt plunged into a ravine at Nembe-Okoroba in Bayelsa state and burst into flames a few minutes after take-off.
They had attended the funeral rites of the father of a senior adviser to President Jonathan, Dr Oronto Douglas, at Okoroba village in Bayelsa.
The incident sent shock-waves across the country.
Speaking at the first Catholic Mass held in the morning at their official residence in Government House, Kaduna, in memory of the late governor, Mrs Yakowa said when her husband was to depart for the ill-fated journey she was sick and could not bid him farewell.
So, the governor returned, held her and said goodbye to her before he embarked on his last journey.
Mrs Yakowa spoke about her husband in glowing terms, saying he was loving and caring and was always willing to stand for truth and justice.
She said: “God is God and knows the circumstances we are in and also what happens to us. We cannot question God; he knew everything about us and our lives. And we are in God’s hands and care.
“My husband was a man of conscience and always leaving a positive mark wherever he goes and in all he does, but God has done His will. Who are we to question God? Rather, we have continued obeying God who created heaven and earth and all in it.
“May his soul rest in the bosom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
In his homily, Most Rev Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso of the Kaduna Catholic Archdiocese, who presided over the Mass, read from Philippians chapter 4: 4-9, saying, “Do not worry, because God is with us and watching over every situation. We may think God is far or He is not around but He is with us and watching over everything.”
The clergy, while buttressing his homily, read, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
The Mass service was attended by members of Yakowa’s family and other mourners, as well as several Catholic priests.
Another insight into Yakowa’s last moments was given by an aide to Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Alhaji Umar Sani.
Sani said yesterday that he saw Governor Yakowa minutes before he and the five victims of the plane crash entered the ill-fated Nigerian Navy helicopter in Okoroba.
Sani, who stood in for Sambo at the funeral of Pa Obebara Douglas, father of Dr. Oronto Douglas, explained that he sat close to Yakowa and exchanged banters with him before the latter boarded the helicopter.
He said: “I was with His Excellency, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa. We sat together because I represented the Vice President, and after the funeral we exchanged banters a lot. He was waiting for the helicopter that would convey him to Port Harcourt and I was waiting for ours too. Suddenly, when we were waiting, Azazi’s own arrived and it was announced that there were two seats. He asked me to follow him but on protocol, since he would need an orderly, I could not join him. Afterwards, it was Dauda Tsoho that went with him.
“The plane that was to take him later arrived and his two aides boarded it and left. After a while, the Minister of Information called me and asked about the governor, I said they have left. And later when we were boarding we heard signals that there was a crash and we got shocked,” he said.
Sani said he was shocked and devastated on hearing the news that the helicopter had crashed.
On how the Vice President received the sad news, he said, “When we became confused, we called the VP and he was shocked and completely devastated by the sad news.
“The Vice President held Yakowa in high esteem. They have worked together and had a cordial relationship. He was a good man and very outstanding.”