Vice-President Namadi Sambo; former Head of State Maj-Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (retd), and the Prelate of Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Ola Makinde, on Sunday, described the death of Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State as shocking. Yakowa, the immediate National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi, and four others were killed on Saturday in a military helicopter crash at Okoroba Village in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Others, who mourned Yakowa and Azazi are former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu; Federal Capital Territory Minister Bala Mohammed, as well as political and labour union groups.
Sambo said he would miss his erstwhile deputy, who he described as a friend, brother and mentor.
He stated this while commiserating with the family of the late governor and the new governor, Mukhtar Yero, at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim Government House, Kaduna.
The Vice-President said, “Yakowa was a patriot, gentleman, friend, brother and mentor. He will be missed by all of us.”
Buhari, who ordered that the ceremony marking his 70th birthday scheduled for Monday, 17 in Abuja, be postponed indefinitely, said it was to respect the deceased.
Buhari, in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, described the incident as a monumental national tragedy.
Buhari said , “Indeed, this is another difficult time for the nation and calls for sober reflection.”
Makinde described the incident “as a rude shock and a terrible nightmare.” The cleric, through the church’s Media and Public Relations Officer, Rev. Oladapo Daramola, said “Saturday, December 15, would go down as a dark day in the history of this country.”
The cleric said, “Governor Yakowa was a distinguished leader, who had the courage of his convictions and was ready to carry everyone along. He was a true statesman, who promoted and lived by the doctrine of tolerance, unity and mutual respect. He ensured that in the midst of palpable tension at times, there was calm and peace with no victor and no vanquished.”
Kalu, in a statement by his Special Adviser, said the crash had further brought to the fore his calls for a better funding of the military.
Kalu said, “Apart from the serving governor, who has been doing a good job in his state, and Gen. Azazi, whose wealth of experience is needed at this time that the country is going through a season of insecurity, the others in the ill-fated chopper, especially the pilots, have been described as some of the best the country’s military institutions have produced.
“Losing such persons in one crash calls for sober reflection and a thorough probe of the crash.”
Mohammed said the nation would miss the “qualitative but selfless services of these statesmen.”
The Chairman Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State, Mr. Makanjuola Ogundipe, described the governor’s death and others as sad news and a big blow to the PDP family and Nigeria at large.
The Chairman of the Progressive Peoples Alliance in Bayelsa State, Chief Gbaligha Gbalikuma, said, “It is sad that we are mourning now. It is so sad that a governor came here to honour one of our sons to bury his father and the governor also died on our soil that same day.”
The Nigerian Navy also in a statement by its Director of Information, Commodore Kabir Aliyu, described the crash as unfortunate.
Aliyu said the Navy had commenced investigations into the air disaster.
Aliyu said the Navy would make the report of the investigation available to the public as soon as the investigations were concluded.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress in Rivers State has called on the Federal Government to address the decay in the aviation sector in order to put an end to the incessant air crashes in the country.
The state TUC Chairman, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, who said the incident was avoidable, said there had been situations of near misses in the nation’s airspace almost on weekly basis.
He said, “Our transportation is in a comatose state, the health system is history; the education system is merely a monument. Poverty, insecurity, unemployment, and avoidable deaths are the landmarks of Nigeria.”
Also, Muslims under the aegis of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam in a statement by their Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, described the incident as shocking.
The Kaduna State council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists also said the death of Yakowa was tragic.
A statement by the Council’s Secretary, Dominic Uzu, described the late governor as a dynamic and visionary leader who worked tirelessly for the development of the state.