The remains of former Kaduna State Governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa, were interred Thursday in his hometown in Fadan Kagoma, Jama'a Local Government Area, amidst tributes from many prominent Nigerians, including President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President David Mark and governors.
Yakowa's remains arrived in the sleepy town at about 10.20 am from Kaduna in a Government House ambulance for the holy mass at St. Paul's Catholic Church, amidst tight security.
Jonathan, who spoke after the mass, said Yakowa epitomised patriotism and service to the nation and urged Nigerians to emulate his virtues.
He said the occasion was a solemn moment for the nation and urged the people of Fadan Kagoma not to despair.
He said: "Our late brother was a nationalist. Death is a necessary end that will come when it will come. How and when it will come will make us think and act differently.
"We have been told by philosophers that the world is a stage where everybody plays his part.
"Yakowa played his part very well. As a civil servant, he epitomised the best of the civil service; the discipline of the civil service; the character of the civil service, not the kind of civil service today that directors have more houses than the richest man like Dangote.
"Surely he played his role on earth very well. He left us at a time his vision was too loud; it is unfortunate but that is the will of the Almighty God. Yakowa from all we have heard was somebody that had no ethnic and religious divide in his blood.
"When we elders in private discuss things that will divide us, Yakowa talked about peace, love and unity and development, and he brought all of us here today.
"I will use this opportunity to urge all Nigerians, especially those of us who have been given this privilege of holding very high political offices that sometimes we don't merit, that in our utterances, we should emphasise on things that unite us instead of emphasising on things that divide us."
Mark said Yakowa was a different kind of politician, stressing that the late governor was humble, dedicated and a committed nationalist.
"Yakowa built bridges not just between Muslims and Christians, but he built bridges even within the government. We shall miss him, but more than anything else, we as Christians know that Yakowa is resting in the bosom of the Lord," he said.
The late Yakowa's successor, Alhaji Mukhtar Yero, described his late boss as a man who exhibited uncommon leadership qualities just as he was an embodiment of patience, simplicity, patriotism, peace and was committed to duty.
Yero also announced the naming of the new Kamanzo/Angwan Rimi Expressway constructed by the late governor after the deceased.
He said because of his sterling qualities, he was given the moniker Yakowa "Nakowa," adding that his vision was anchored on three cardinal principles - security, unity and development.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors' Forum (NGF), Mr. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, and that of the Northern State Governors' Forum (NSGF), Dr. Mua'azu Babangida of Niger State, said Yakowa was a man of peace who worked relentlessly for harmony.
Yakowa, according to Amaechi, always told him of how he wanted to ensure peace and stability so that he could develop Kaduna State.
He said the late governor sacrificed himself in the pursuit of peace, adding: "I hope that we will not disappoint him because his spirit will continue to hover around us reminding us of the need to eradicate poverty and have the numerous resources of this country get to as many people as possible so that we can all leave in peace."
On his part, Babangida said the composition of the crowd at the funeral was a testimony to the fact that Yakowa was a good man.
"For me personally, we shared many things in common with Governor Yakowa. We transferred our services to the Federal Government in 1990 together.
"Yakowa, a Christian, was always the one who would remind us of our prayer time during our meetings. Those who knew him didn't know whether he was a Muslim or a Christian," he stated.
Babangida assured the family that the Northern Governors' Forum will continue to stand by them.
The eldest son of the late governor, Jatau, who spoke on behalf of the family, said they had taken their father's death in good faith.
"We have embraced our father's death in good faith, as our father had taught us to accept anything that happens in life, no matter how painful, as the will of God.
"He had spent his life serving the people. My father was an apostle of peace, always preached peace at any given opportunity he got and made the ultimate sacrifice and that sacrifice was made on the altar of peace.
"I pray that this sacrifice will not be a wasted sacrifice. I pray there will be peace in Kaduna State; I pray there will be peace in Nigeria.
"I described the helicopter crash which killed my father as a grand designed by God to show Mr. President that Yakowa, his brother indeed, sincerely believed in him and his administration. It was a grand way by God to show Northerners and Southerners that we are indeed brothers and sisters.
"Daddy, God has finally called you to rest, the rest that you constantly denied yourself while alive. We are happy that you are in a better place with God watching over us," he added.
Jatau further said that his father's death had truly proven that good people could succeed in life even in Nigeria, "because he came, he saw and he conquered".
Also, the President of Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria, Bishop Ignatius Kaigam, described the late Yakowa as a humble and dedicated Christian Catholic who was very loyal.
"He was loyal, he loved the church. He was not the pretentious Christian; he was not a Christian by political convenience, he was a Christian from the heart and he loved his God and his people," the clergyman said.
He admonished Nigerians to stop using religion as a political weapon to kill and attack others, adding that some people used religion to foster their political and sectional interests.
Earlier in his sermon, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Bishop Matthew Kukah, urged the people of Southern Kaduna not to despair over the death of Yakowa, the first Christian to govern the state.
He said the outpouring of emotion throughout the country was a testimony of what Yakowa meant to all Nigerians.
He noted that since the demise of the governor, Nigerians have continued to question why he had to attend the burial of the father of the Special Adviser to the President on Research and Documentation, Mr. Oronto Douglas, in Bayelsa State, following which the former governor and five others were killed in a navy helicopter crash on their return trip.
"No matter our sadness, indifference, or even hidden joy, our God draws straight with crocket lives. We humans can't say or change nothing in the plans of God. All that God does, no matter how bitter, is for our own good.
"Mr. Yakowa ascended the exalted position of Kaduna State with a climax that was at best, the most fascinating and exceptional career.
"Despite the fact that all states were open to Christian military officers, it was only Kaduna and perhaps Sokoto that were never governed by non-Muslims.
"This policy of non-inclusion against non-Muslims, turned Kaduna into a political Mecca and laid the foundation for unnecessary and sad religious tension that has continued to bog the state.
"That was why a routine change from a deputy governor to a governor, that should be taken as given had generated the kind of interest right across the country because the first in history has ended.
"His death has robbed this state of one human being who brought respectability and nobility to politics. A man who demonstrated that faith can influence politics. A man who demonstrated that politics can be played by the rules," he stated.
The governor was buried at his private residence at about 4.50pm.
Among the dignitaries that witnessed the funeral were the President of Liberia, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Speaker House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal; former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar; the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; and some of his predecessors such as Chief Solomon Lar, Chief Audu Ogbeh and Col. Dr. Ahmadu Ali.