Encomiums and tributes poured in yesterday for the late Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State, former National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Andrew Owoye Azazi and their aides, all of whom perished in an helicopter crash in Ogbia creeks of Bayelsa State on Saturday.
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah were also in the Kaduna Govenrment House, after the swearing in ceremony.
Glowing tributes were poured on Yakowa whose death was described as a monumental loss to the state and the nation.
The former governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, in his condolence note said “From Him we came and to Him we shall all return. Words alone cannot express my deep sorrow and sadness over such a great loss…I personally have lost a friend and brother”.
Mark, Ekweremadu, Ndoma-Egba: Frequent Crashes, Too Much Burden
Senate President David Mark, his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, and Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, yesterday mourned the death of Kaduna State Governor Mr. Patrick Yakowa and the immediate past National Security Adviser (NSA) General Owoye Azazi and four others in the ill-fated Navy helicopter.
Mark in a statement noted that the frequency of air mishaps in recent times unarguably calls for caution and a return to the basics. He said, "My heart goes out to the nation especially the families and friends of the victims. It is another sad moment for the nation. It is a huge burden."
He called on aviation experts and the appropriate authorities to ensure that such air disasters are prevented in the future. Senator Mark pointed out that both Yakowa and Azazi were personal friends to him saying "besides official relationships, they were my personal friends; it is like a double tragedy to me. This is sad."
Mark described Azazi as one of the finest military officers in Nigeria who served the nation diligently and meritoriously.
In his reaction Senator Ekweremadu noted that both men and other compatriots who lost their lives in the air mishap were illustrious sons of Nigeria who gave their best to their fatherland. “It is indeed another sad and shocking event in the annals of our nation and I pray that never again should such disaster befall our land,” he said.
Senator Ndoma-Egba challenged the Nigerian Aviation authorities to find lasting solution to the spate of air crashes in the country. He said Nigeria cannot continue to lose some of its illustrious citizens to frequent air crashes. He said: “The emotional devastation of frequent air crashes is too much burden on the families involved”.
Tambuwal: Due Diligence on all Aircraft Imperative
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, has described as tragic and sorrowful, the helicopter mishap, stressing that it has become imperative to conduct due diligence on all aircraft—military or commercial, in the country to ascertain their airworthiness.
In a statement, Tambuwal expressed sadness at the news of the ugly incident.
"It is quite unfortunate and disheartening that Nigerians are waking up to the reality of yet another air disaster which has claimed lives in the country. I mourn the loss of the fine gentlemen aboard the Navy helicopter and pray God to give our nation the fortitude to bear the loss", he said.
Also, Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, expressed shock at the crash of the helicopter.
Ihedioha described the crash as another unfortunate incident which has brought pain and distress to the families of the victims. He commiserated with the government and people of Kaduna and Bayelsa States, noting that both Yakowa and Azazi served the country meritoriously.
Buhari Shelves Birthday Party
In deference to the memory of the helicopter crash victims, the National Leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari has postponed his scheduled birthday anniversary in honour of Yakowa.
Buhari in a statement issued, expressed personal grief and a deep sense of loss over the death of Yakowa, Azazi and others in the helicopter crash.
He described the incident as a monumental national tragedy.
Atiku Abubakar: Frequency of Air Crashes Disturbing
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has called for an audit of all military aircraft to determine their operational ability and suitability. Recalling the death of DIG (Operations) of the Nigeria Police, John Haruna in a crash in Jos earlier in the year, Atiku said the frequency with which Nigeria is losing its best human assets to air crashes is disturbing, and suggested to the federal government to temporarily ground all military helicopters for a technical audit.
Atiku said, “I believe that a good step towards arresting this ugly situation is for the federal government to temporarily ground all military helicopters in the country, to pave way for a technical audit."
Traditional Rulers Grieve
Also the Emir of Zazzau (Zaria), Alhaji Shehu Idris in a statement said “I write on behalf of the entire members of the Kaduna state council of Chiefs to express our deep sense of loss at the sudden transition of His Excellency, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, one of the nation’s eminent administrators and Governor.
“As governor, he served Kaduna state, the nation and his faith with diligence, honesty and professional integrity.
For Chief of Kagoro, Mallam Ufuwai Bonet, “This is a very sad moment of our lives. The late governor Yakowa tried his best during the various crises in the state in his efforts in bringing the different shades of people of the state together as one. He will be surely remembered for his love for peace.
Chief of Kagoma, Col Paul Wyom (rtd). It is very difficult to give the account of the governor. He was a seasoned civil servant.
He will be remembered for being the first civilian governor of Kaduna from the Southern part of the state and he will also be remembered for his prudent management of state resources.