President Goodluck Jonathan alleged yesterday that Nigerian politicians were exploiting religious sentiments to cause division among citizens of the country, saying they should take a cue from late Kaduna Governor Ibrahim Yakowa, a detribalised gentleman who worked for the unity of the country.
"He (Yakowa) was a different class of politician. Most of us who are politicians exploit religious sentiments to divide Nigerians for our own selfish gains. We exploit north/south divide to divide Nigerians for our selfish gains. But Yakowa was very different. He was gentleman who believed in the unity of this country," Jonathan stated.
Jonathan said this at a special session held by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in honour of the late Yakowa; former National Security Adviser, General Andrew Owoeye Azazi; their aides, Dauda Tsoho and Warrant Officer Mohammed Kamal; the pilots, Commander Murtala Mohammed Daba and Lt. Adeyemi O. Sowole, who died in the Navy helicopter crash last Saturday.
Speaking at the last FEC meeting for 2012, President Jonathan described December 15 as a 'black' Saturday in the annals of the country as the crash claimed the lives of Nigerians who served their country selflessly.
He noted that Yakowa was rare breed of politician who never exploited ethnic or religious sentiments for selfish ends and who believed in the unity of the country, just as he described Azazi as a fine and selfless officer who served his country meritoriously.
Ministers also poured their hearts out while commiserating with victims of the ill fated crash.
High point of the special session was a one-minute silence in honour of the victims and the signing of two condolence registers for the late Yakowa and Azazi by all cabinet members present.
On his part, Vice President Sambo recalled how he interacted with Yakowa for over 25 years, describing him as a peaceful and selfless gentleman.
Sambo also recollected how he chose the late governor as his running mate despite the fact the two of them had contest the PDP gubernatorial primary election against each other, saying Yakowa was a bridge builder whose footprints will never be forgotten in the minds of the people of Kaduna State.