20 December 2012

Nigeria: Seven Vie to Be Yero's Deputy

Kaduna — The jockeying for who will be the deputy governor of Kaduna State in the aftermath of the change of guard in the state occasioned by the death of the former governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, has started.

Yakowa died on Saturday in a naval helicopter crash in Nembe creeks, Bayelsa State, along with former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), and four others.

THISDAY checks revealed yesterday that no fewer than seven persons have started jostling to succeed Yakowa's deputy, Alhaji Ramalan Yero, who was sworn in on Sunday as the 19th governor of the state since its creation in 1967.

It is expected that the new deputy governor will come from Southern Kaduna, where Yakowa hailed from, to achieve a balance in the delicate ethno-religious divide in the state.

It was also learnt that Yakowa's death and the subsequent emergence of Yero as governor might have altered the widely held view that Kaduna Central would produce the next governor of the state after Yakowa.

Of the seven names being bandied as eyeing the deputy governor's slot, four are from the old brigade, while three belong to new generation politicians in the state.

The old breed politicians being propped up for the job include the chairman of the state chapter of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ambassador Nuhu Bajoga. Bajoga is in his late 50s and was the nation's ambassador to Poland.

Also in this category is the former Minister of State for Power, Mr. Nuhu Wye. Wye was a schoolmate of Vice-President Namadi Sambo, both in the secondary as well as in their days at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where they both studied architecture. Sambo was also believed to have been instrumental to his appointment as minister.

The third and fourth persons on the list are former Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hassan Hyat, and a former Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Bawa Magaji.

Leading the younger generation of politicians interested in the office of deputy governor is a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Jonathan Asake. Asake was Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on National Assembly Matters. He had also served in different capacities, both in the state and at the national level.

There is Mr. Edward Marshall, a former Commissioner for Water Resources in the state during the military era. Marshall had also served as Special Assistant to former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman, during the Obasanjo administration.

The other name in this group is Reverend Joseph Hayab, a Special Adviser on Christian Matters to the late Yakowa. Hayab was the secretary of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Another name being touted is the wife of the late governor, Amina Yakowa, who has the support of many sympathisers. A graduate of ABU, she rose to the position of deputy director in the Ministry of Defence before taking a leave of absence when her husband became governor.

Sources told THISDAY that the choice on who might fill the slot might not come easy, as whoever is chosen must be someone who will be able to close the ethno-religious fault line that has divided the state.

Some of the sources said people from Southern Kaduna are not happy that Yakowa's death has cut short the chances of that part of the state to serve its constitutional eight years of two terms in office.

The sources, however, believe that Southern Kaduna people would prefer a relatively younger and politically savvy person to serve as the deputy governor.

A source who spoke to THISDAY justified this position when he said: "If you recall, the late Stephen Shekari who was deputy to former Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, was far older than Makarfi; Yakowa, who was deputy to both Makarfi and former Governor Namadi Sambo, was by far older than both of them.

"This time around, we need a young, agile and experienced person for this position. Our senior politicians should allow the youths a chance. Besides, the new governor is a young man and it is only good to get somebody within his age group as his deputy."

But there are other issues that would come into play as the new government settles down. This includes the quest for political supremacy between Makarfi's followers in the PDP and those of the vice-president.

Before his death, the late Yakowa played a major role and served as an intermediary between both power blocs in the state.

He was the unifying factor between the two camps as he worked relentlessly to ensure that all interests were accommodated, given the fact that he had served both Makarfi and Sambo as deputy governor and boasted vast experience in governance and politics.

THISDAY also gathered that determining who wins the ticket to be Yero's deputy would primarily fall on political and traditional rulers in Southern Kaduna.

However, Sambo is expected to have some say in the decision given the fact that he is the godfather of the incumbent governor.

Leaders of the late Yakowa's zone, THISDAY learnt, met on Tuesday night to decide on who gets the post.

The leaders met under the aegis of the Southern Kaduna Elders Forum at the residence of former military governor of Rivers state, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (rtd), to shop for a credible person for the deputy governorship post.

Also, the Coalition of Southern Kaduna Youths has been meeting over the issue with a view to ensuring that the slot goes to a younger candidate.

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