Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, of Kaduna State graduated from the famous Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in 1972 with a degree in Public Administration.
In 1973 , he went back to the then University of Ife , for a post graduate diploma in Public Administration, and not in business administration ,which would have helped place him in a better stead, if he was to take up employment in the private sector.
He was to bag a Masters Degree in Public Administration, as he continued to prepare himself for service to mankind.
Unlike now that graduates, including doctorate degree holders are reportedly applying to be drivers, Yakowa, had several employment opportunities. If his motivation in life was money, the United African Company (UAC), John Holt, Kingsway, etc, would have been his first choice , where the salary cannot be compared to “living wage ” civil servants earn. But the choice of the civil service was not difficult, because right from the outset, his life has been about service to humanity. Those who know him from childhood attest to this fact.
So quite early in life, he made the conscious decision to be a servant of the people. Thus begun the journey of a life that is epitomized by service which climax, is not the governorship of Kaduna state, but as a permanent secretary in the federal civil service and as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. As a federal civil servant, you make policies for the 36 states and the federal capital. Though in Nigeria, most people prefer to be governors, so they can be “emperors”. This may be the reason, why some senators prefer to be governors ,instead of legislating for the whole country. It is all about control.
Considering that he lost his mother at the tender age of six and later his father at a very young age of 19, Yakowa would have ended up at best, a village champion, considering that he had lost his parents ,who would have paid his fees. Through doing all sorts of jobs ,the goodwill of people and the missionaries he was able to go to school. It was obvious to him that the only way to make a success of his life was hard work, determination and being focused. A habit that to date is still part of him.
Yakowa is known to stay awake into early hours, seeing people, treating files and by 5am, he would already be up. And as a devote Catholic (a Papal Knight), he will go for mass and the ritual of seeing people, treating files etc begins all over again.
But when the day is really choked up, he would apologize, and if it is something that can be solved by a phone call, he will ask that the person calls or sends a text message.
Treating people with respect and decorum is second nature to him. When he became governor , he had no hesitation moving with Hajia ,who has been in charge of his guest house from his days as deputy governor ,Kabir who was director in charge of security when he was the Secretary to State Government (SSG) , as well as Atama, who he has now made a permanent secretary .For Yakowa , they deserve “divine elevation” , the same way God Almighty divinely elevated him when the President picked the then Governor of Kaduna state, Arc. Namadi Sambo to become the Vice President. This and the appointment of a Muslim as his ADC, went along way in re-assuring people that he has not changed and would not change; that he would be fair and just to all.
He still likes to laugh and crack jokes, but can be very serious when the circumstance demands. But most times he shows his fatherly nature and the experience , he has acquired over the years relating with people, when he over looks acts that would have led to somebody being tongue lashed. This is considered weakness by some people , especially the generation that are so used to the military era , when appointments can be terminated on the network news.
For instance, when he drives around in the night to see things for himself, God bless the commissioner in charge of whatever he sees that is wrong- streetlight that is not working, potholes on the roads; refuse heaps that have not been evacuated etc.
People have also spoken about his loyalty to friends and bosses and the fact that his long years in the civil service is responsible for his “obedient and loyal servant ” nature. I vehemently disagree. Loyalty is his second nature. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and Namadi Sambo , are by age junior to him. But once he accepted to work with them, they became his boss and his respect for them had to be total and still remains so.
If Yakowa was a bad man, he would have shown his true colour, especially now that he is governor. But to the anger of so many people who want him in the typical Nigerian style to become disrespectful to them , he has refused ,because it is just not in his nature.
And he has made some enemies over this. What is unknown to many people is that his skilful management of very difficult relationships , has gone a long way in ensuring that Kaduna State has is not plunged into the type of crisis some states experienced whenever they produce either the President ,Vice President, President of the Senate or Secretary to Government of the Federation. We have seen raging “war” in some states, between Abuja based group and the home front. But rather than indulge in such unhealthy rivalry, he has taken insults and has refused to reply to such insults ,even when they come from people who have no pedigree.
For all that God has done for him , his song has remained – I can only repay it by being gracious and dedicated to the service of humanity . A life of ostentation is not in his dictionary. So he still rides the same cars he inherited from his predecessor. He is also not in a hurry to move into the new multi-billion naira office complex, the present office is functional and good enough for him. That is Yakowa , a gentleman in the real sense of the word! Having been around for long, one will also think, he would also have made so many enemies ,comfortably that is not the case. Rather it is that knack for managing relationships that is the essential Yakowa.
Virtually everybody that had worked with Yakowa, speaks well of him and they still maintain a good relationship with him. It is part of the “I owe you” that he has been cashing on for Kaduna State.
No doubt the expectations are high for him to deliver, despite the terrible financial base of the state. Kaduna is the third most populous state in Nigeria with a population of about 7 million people. It receives between N4.5 billion to N5 billion monthly, from the federation account. Its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is about N700 million. After the wage bill of about N4.3 billion naira, which takes a large chunk of the funds and the expenditure on security, there is virtually nothing for capital projects.
So how is he getting the money to convert the state hospital into a teaching hospital, so that medical students of the state university will have a place for their clinical, the more than 1,000 kilometres of road costing more than 50 billion naira, the various water schemes and the biggest of them all ,the Zaria Regional Water project , that has now been expanded to supply water to five(5) more local government areas ,one can go on and on.
The simple answer is , the prudent management of resources and continued efforts to block leakages. But as one who never complains, after all he asked to be elected, Yakowa has identified untapped revenue sources and workable strategies towards collecting them. The immediate objective of his strategic revenue objective is the funding of the overhead expenditure of government in the short term and in the long run, the more than N4.3 billion monthly wage bills.
And the state has started seeing the benefits of the improved revenue. Just last week he flagged off the construction of 31 new roads, at a whooping cost of N28 billion naira. Flagging off the road projects at Karatudu, in Chikun Local Government area, Yakowa almost shed tears , when he saw the rickety bridge that the people of the area call “the killer bridge” because of the many lives of school children it has claimed. With the new road, there will be no more such avoidable deaths.
By next year, the governor will surprise Kaduna State with some critical projects that will change the fortune of many citizens.
As he celebrates his birthday, one can only ask for continued good health and protection for him and his family, especially his beautiful wife Amina , that covers the home front while he steers the ship of the state. Sir, happy birthday and God bless.
Emmanuel Ado , is media consultant to Governor Yakowa of KadunaState.