Governor Patrick Yakowa and Governor Danbaba Suntai
There was something dreadfully familiar about the news of this air crash. For the second time in less than two months, the Grim Reaper’s sickle aimed for a serving northern Nigerian governor. The first time, the governor survived albeit in a very bad shape. The second victim was, alas, not so lucky.
The victim, Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State, died alongside the former National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd) in yesterday’s helicopter crash in a swampy location near Okoroba community in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
Governor Yakowa and the former NSA Azazi were said to be on their way with others to Port Harcourt from Bayelsa State, where they attended the burial ceremony of the father of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Research, Documentation and Strategy, Oronto Douglas.
Oblivious of the fact that he was being stalked by the Grim Reaper, the late Kaduna State governor was reported to be in high spirits during his brief visit to Okoroba community. Eyewitness accounts said he had acknowledged cheers from bystanders on his way to the reception hall.
Yakowa’s fate is poignantly reminiscent of the October 25 crash, this year. On that fateful day, the nation was stunned by the news of a plane crash involving Governor Danbaba Suntai of Taraba State and five of his aides. The governor, a licensed pilot from the Nigerian College of Aviation in Zaria, had piloted the Cessna 208 5N-BMJ plane and was flying the plane from the Taraba State capital, Jalingo, to the Adamawa State capital, Yola. The plane was believed to have crashed a few minutes after he lost contact with the Yola air control. The governor, who was reported to have successfully flown several solo flights, was initially presumed dead before the arrival of the rescue team. He was eventually flown to Germany for treatment.
Fate also linked the two governors by their shared faith as Christians and the fact they both governed Northern Nigerian states which, though with large Muslim populations, were dominated by minorities.