BY EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR
It was the web of conspiracy tales on how the country’s power equations were determined in the town that gave rise to the myth of the Kaduna Mafia. The flux in the tenure of its governors is, however, no myth!
After the death of Governor Patrick Yakowa last Saturday, another myth around Kaduna has emerged. No pair of governor and deputy that entered office ever ended in office together.
The first civilian governor of the old Kaduna State, was the redoubtable Balarabe Musa who was forced out of office in June 1981 upon his impeachment by the National Party of Nigeria, NPN dominated House of Assembly. His deputy, Alhaji Abba Musa Rimi eventually finished his term in office.
Alhaji Lawal Kaita of the NPN who won the 1983 gubernatorial election on the ticket of the NPN did not finish his term as he was booted out of office by the military putsch of December 31, 1983.
Alhaji Dabo Lere who was elected governor of the new Kaduna State with James Bawa Magaji as his deputy in 1991 also did not finish his term as he was also booted out of office by the Sani Abacha led coup of November 17, 1993.
At the advent of the fourth republic, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, a former commissioner of Finance during the military regime was elected as governor with the rotund Mr. Stephen Shekari as his deputy. There were suggestions at the beginning of their administration that Makarfi who was reportedly hospitalised for a long period at the beginning of the first term would not last in office. It was then suggested that for the first time, a Christian would govern the state. But the thinking of man was upturned when Shekari died in office leaving Makarfi to build what has been described as one of the best legacies of governance by a civilian in Kaduna State .
After Shekari’s death, Makarfi picked Mr. Patrick Yakowa a former career civil servant turned politician as his deputy. Yakowa finished with Makarfi in 2007 but his bid to succeed Makarfi as governor ran into stormy waters and he ended up continuing as deputy governor of the state under Makarfi’s handpicked successor, Arc. Namadi Sambo.
Makarfi it was generally believed helped to ensure that his own loyal deputy, was put on the ticket as Sambo’s running mate.
Sambo’s stewardship of Kaduna was in good progress until the death of President Umaru Yar‘adua in May 2010 when he, Sambo was picked to become vice-president to President Goodluck Jonathan who succeeded the late Yar‘adua.
Sambo’s elevation led to the inevitable ascension of his former deputy, Yakowa to the Government House. It was a phenomenal development for the Christian dominated southern population who for the first time had someone of their faith in control of the state. The appointment of Yakowa’s deputy was reportedly dictated by Sambo. The choice was Ramallah Yero, who was before his elevation, the commissioner for finance in the Sambo administration and before then, accountant and financial director in Samba’s private company.
As governor Yakowa, undoubtedly had his job well cut out. Given the history of delicate relations between the Muslim and Christian populations in the state, Yakowa as governor was always quick to calm tension that repeatedly broke out during his short reign. He was particularly passionate in wooing the Islamic population.
Though he had a difficult time winning election in 2011, he was by some account already worming his way into the heart of the muslim population through his government’s charm offensive to Muslims through such programmes as Ramadan feeding and hajj sponsorships. When Muslim pilgrims from the state went for the hajj last year, a national newspaper reported that the pilgrims who had by that time been taken in by Yakowa’s charm towards them prayed passionately for his conversion to Islam!
Yakowa was, off course not universally popular among Christians at the time of his selection as Sambo’s deputy in 2007. He was regarded in bad light for having helped what some regarded as the conspiracy to frustrate their brother, Isaiah Balat in the 2007 gubernatorial primary.
He, however, over time won all but extremists to his side. Even though he remained courteous and reverential towards Sambo, there were often repeated allegations of differences between both men.
Indeed, it was believed in some circles that Sambo was already lining up at least three powerful contenders to challenge Yakowa for the gubernatorial ticket of the PDP in 2015. Among those so named are Yero and the director general of a prominent Federal Government parastatal from the state. Besides the duo, the Secretary to the State government, Alhaji Lawal Samaila Yakawada, had been alleged to be also oiling the machinery to contest the 2015 election. Just last week the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN in the state had called on Yakowa to sack Yakawada for what it described as the SSG’s effrontery in planning to contest the 2015 election.
The inauguration of Yero as governor yesterday has, inevitably changed all the permutations for 2015. What Yero could have fought for, he now has firmly in his kitty. And Sambo, whose legacy in Kaduna was almost being put to question through election losses at home, is now fully back in the saddle. After all, his personal accountant is in charge.