Kaduna — Mukhtar Ramalan Yero took the oath of office as new Kaduna State governor yesterday, with a pledge to build on the foundation laid by his former boss Patrick Yakowa who died in a helicopter crash on Saturday.
The oath of office and oath of allegiance were administered on Yero by the state Chief Judge Justice Rahila H. Cudjoe at the Government House around 1.10pm.
Thousands of people, among them politicians, traditional rulers and other well-wishers, thronged the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House to witness the swearing in, amidst tight security cordon.
Speaking shortly after he was sworn in, Yero said the vision of the late Yakowa was to secure, unite and develop Kaduna State. He said he would pursue the fulfillment of those aspirations.
"Sir Yakowa invested so much on this and started reaping the fruits of his labour. He wished to consolidate and advance on the achievement so far made and hence tagged the 2013 budget of the state 'Budget of Consolidation and Advancement'. I sincerely desire to build on the good foundation that my boss has laid. I therefore covet your prayers for God's wisdom, guidance and direction," Yero said.
"We are living testimonies to the fact that our amiable governor, Sir Yakowa, who came, did serve humanity in various and diverse capacities well and has suddenly without notice returned to our creator.
"His humility, dedication to duty, fairness to all and his high sense of humour endeared him to many irrespective of religion, tribal or sectional differences," he added.
Former governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, State Assembly speaker Usman Gangara as well as Yero's father were among the personalities who attended the brief swearing in ceremony that lasted for about 30 minutes.
In a statewide broadcast last night, Yero declared today as a public holiday and announced a 7-day mourning period starting yesterday in honour of the late Yakowa.
He asked chairmen of the 23 local government areas to open condolence registers in their headquarters.
The remains of Yakowa and Mr. Dauda Tsoho who died with him in the helicopter crash will be brought to Kaduna today, the governor said, adding: "I plead with citizens of Kaduna state to accept this sad situation that we cannot change with total submission to the will of God."
In the Hausa version of the broadcast, Yero said Yakowa's remains would be interred on Thursday.
The 44-year-old Yero is joining the league of state governors as the second youngest, after the Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari who is 43 years old.
Yero, a close ally of Vice President Namadi Sambo, was Commissioner of Finance when Sambo was governor in 2007-2010. He became deputy governor on the appointment of Sambo as Vice President after the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua in May 2010.
Born on May 1, 1968, Yero who hails from Zaria had his primary school education at LEA Kaura between 1974 to 1980. He attended Government Secondary School, Ikara between 1980 and 1985 and Government Day Secondary School, Zaria from 1985 to 1986 for his West African School Certificate and GCE O' level.
He was at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he obtained a Diploma in Banking in 1988, Bsc Accountancy in 1991 and Masters Degree in Business Administration in 2003.
He was also at the College of Accountancy, Jos for Certificate in National Accountancy between 2003 and 2004. Yero did the mandatory national service under the National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC) at Ogun State Bulk Purchasing Corporation, Abeokuta between 1991 and 1992.
The governor began his public service career as a Higher Executive Officer at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1992 before joining the defunct Nigeria Universal Bank Limited in 1993.
Yero also worked as chief accountant at a company owned by Sambo, Nalado Nigeria Limited Kaduna, between 2002 and 2007.
A keen horse rider and polo enthusiast, the governor is married to Hajiya Fatima and has six children.
Yero's former boss Yakowa died in a helicopter crash along with former National Security Adviser General Andrew Azazi and five others on their way to Port Harcourt from the burial of the late father of presidential adviser Oronto Douglas in Bayelsa State.
Yakowa was the first person of Southern Kaduna extraction to become a governor of the state.
His death on Saturday sparked a security alert, with the deployment of troops yesterday to patrol the state capital which had seen bouts of deadly communal violence.
The army spokesman in Kaduna, Colonel Sani Usman, confirmed the deployment of troops. "Security is part of the military routine process to secure lives and property and to ensure that people are able to conduct their legal activities without fear," Usman told AFP news agency.
Troops and armoured personnel carriers were patrolling Kaduna city, while some major highways were closed to traffic by soldiers manning checkpoints and roadblocks, AFP reported, and the usually bustling streets were deserted.