The clamour for the elevation of Mrs. Amina Yakowa, widow of the later governor of Kaduna State, Sir Patrick Yakowa, gained ground yesterday with northern traditional rulers and elders making strategic moves to bring this to fruition.
LEADERSHIP reliably gathered that very influential emirs and traditional title holders have resolved to unanimously back Yakowa's widow for the position of deputy governor.
A delegation of monarchs and elders has already been drafted to meet with Vice President Namadi Sambo in the coming days to further drum support for the former first lady of Kaduna State.
The meeting with the VP, according to our source, is borne out of the fact that Sambo is the most senior political office holder from Kaduna State and northern Nigeria in general, and that he will play a vital role in the drive to enthrone Mrs. Yakowa.
LEADERSHIP also gathered that southern Kaduna elders unanimously support the appointment of Mrs. Yakowa to the number two position, which became vacant on Sunday soon after the then deputy governor took the oath of office to occupy the number one seat following the Governor Yakowa's sudden death in a helicopter crash on Saturday
LEADERSHIP had reported yesterday that there were strong indications that Yakowa's wife could be given the slot as a form of compensation. Southern Kaduna elders, under the auspices of Southern Kaduna Elders Consultative Forum, led by the former military governor of Rivers State, Major General Zamani Lekwot (rtd), had earlier held a closed-door meeting with the new governor and agreed that the vacant office be given to Mrs. Yakowa as a mark of honour to the man who did much for the state.
LEADERSHIP exclusively gathered that the elders' forum, led by Zamani Lekwot and wife of the former late deputy governor of the state, Mrs. Charity Shekari, had early met with the Vice President Sambo to sell the idea to him.
Gen. Lekwot, it was gathered, told the governor that Mrs. Yakowa was Southern Kaduna's choice for the vacant office and no one else.
The elders met with the governor at a private residence in Kaduna.
A member of the Kaduna State Assembly, Hon. Esther Abba, who spoke to our correspondent on phone, applauded the decision of the elders, saying "Yakowa has done so much that we cannot afford to allow his legacy to go unnoticed."
According to Esther, who represents Zango Kataf, "the choice of Mrs. Yakowa is okay by me and I believe everybody in Southern Kaduna would like it. We support her appointment as a way of saying 'thank you' to His Excellency (Yakowa) for making us feel proud. In fact, we do not even need to think twice about it."
Speaking on the matter, the state commissioner of women affairs, Maria Dogo also pledged her full support to the move.
She said, "Why not, there is nothing wrong with that, she deserves it."
Also speaking to LEADERSHIP, the secretary-general, Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Adamu Mashal, said there was nothing wrong with the move.
According to him, "The loss of Yakowa was of monumental pain to all of us the Southern people, so nothing should be too big for his honour. We are ready to give her maximum cooperation if she eventually emerges the deputy governor of the state. I totally support the idea."
He added that Yakowa did a lot to balance the contending interests in the state more than any other leader before him.
LEADERSHIP checks, however, revealed that the chances of Mrs. Yakowa accepting the appointment is very slim, considering her humble disposition.
Other people who spoke to LEADERSHIP on the matter wished that Mrs. Yakowa be given any ministerial appointment instead of dragging her into the hard politics of the state.
For Hon. Victor Bobai, the idea was a welcome development, "but I would have loved it if she is considered for any ministerial slot. This will keep her away from Kaduna politics."
Governors to monitor crash probe
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF) yesterday resolved to recruit a consultant to participate in the presidential investigation into the immediate and remote causes into the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of late Kaduna State Governor Patrick Yakowa and former National Security Adviser (NSA) Andrew Azazi.
The governors, who held a four-hour over the tragic incident, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the investigation is open and transparent. Most of the governors at the meeting wore grim faces.
The governor's also commiserated with the late governor's family and the entire state.
Reading their communiqué after the meeting, chairman of the forum and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi said that governor supported the president's directive for a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the helicopter.
Governors that attended to meeting include Muazu Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Alhaji Ibrahim Dangwambo (Gombe), Idris Wada (Kogi), David Jang (Plateau), Peter Obi (Anambra), Theodore Orji (Abia), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun).
The acting governor of Taraba State and some deputy governors described the loss of Yakowa and others as tragic and painful.
In their condolence statement to the new governor of Kaduna State Governor Murktar Ramalan Yero, the NGF chairman Amaechi said, "It is with pain that we are here to condole with you, not because we don't share in your pain but because it is traditional to visit the owner of the corpse. We felt it because that your former boss was our colleague until two days ago. In the tragic manner in which he died, we have resolved to do two things; firstly is to support the President in his call for investigation and to come here to pay our condolences to you who is the chief mourner and the people of Kaduna State and the immediate family of Yakowa."
He prayed God to give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable, just as he advised Governor Yero continue with his predecessor's programmes towards impacting the lives of Kaduna people.
He prayed that God will give the new governor the strength to lead the state.
Responding, Governor Muktar Ramalan Yero commended the show of love and concern exhibited by the Nigerian Governors forum, saying the death of his former boss was a sad one that was not envisaged by any one, adding that only God knows why the sad incident occurred.
He reiterated his commitment to consolidate and improve on the good works started by late Yakowa for which he was a part, and to also ensure full implementation of the 2013 budget presented to the State House of Assembly for consideration before his death, when approved.
Defence ministry'll publicise cause of crash
In a related development, the minister of state for defence, Erelu Olusola Obada yesterday vowed to unearth the cause of the crash of the ill-fated Navy helicopter that claimed the lives of former Governor Yakowa, former NSA, General Azazi and four others.
Obada, who made this pledge in a condolence message to all Nigerians, gave assurance of the continued commitment the ministry in service of the nation.
A statement signed on her behalf by the ministry's director of Press and Public Relations, Shehu Maikai reads in part: On behalf of the military and civilian staff of the ministry wishes to express her deep sympathy and regret over the unfortunate air crash involving the Nigerian Navy helicopter on Saturday. The ministry of defence will leave no stone unturned to ascertain the cause of the unfortunate incident."