Death, no doubt, is an inestimable end which must come when it will come. If it comes to a beloved one, the grief of all those affected as a result of the death can best be imagined, especially when it becomes very obvious that never again can such a fellow be seen or heard. It was the same grief I fell into when recently my family was struck by the demise of our beloved father, Senator Daniel Yakwo, at the age of 74 years, at his country home in Abaji, at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
This tribute is in honour of a great man, one of many parts, who throughout his sojourn on earth in the various places he worked and positions held – and even after he retired meritoriously and engaged in private business, agricultural endeavours and as a prominent community leader – was never found wanting.
Senator Yakwo, popularly called ‘Chief Chief’, was born on September 21, 1945 in Abaji local government area of the FCT, his home town. His father was a famous farmer in Abaji, while his mother was a devoted wife and home maker. He lost his father when he was a young adult and was supported by his loving mother till her death in the mid-90s. He began his early education at the Community School in Abaji, and later moved to Lagos, Kaduna, and the Chartered Institute in Germany, and duly completed his educational pursuits with distinction in all his prior tertiary institutions.
He gained employment with the then Federal Ministry of Finance, and was transferred back to Lagos in 1968. He proceeded to Kano on relief duty and later joined as a chartered accountant for training and thus became the first Abaji indigenous citizen to attain that rank.
Senator Yakwo was a true professional purist who can best be described as an exemplary democrat of our time, as well as being a man who brought hope then to the financial sector in areas of Lagos which were often overlooked. He was promoted in 1971 to Assistant Accountant, a highly valued position at that time when expatriates held sway, and was posted to Kaduna.
In 1972 he was sent to London on a course and on his return to the country he settled in Kaduna with his family where his vibrant roles in community and infrastructure development in Southern Kaduna led to the state government naming a road after him, while his lobbying of investors and friends to the area led to the creation of a thriving section of Kaduna known as Barnawa today.
Senator Yakwo, an unassuming technocrat and a man who in all respects and by all standards has distinguished himself in several ways as a patriot, sacrificed all to assist in stabilising the financial sector, was barely six years in Kaduna when he was recalled to participate in the electoral ambition of the late former president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, to lead the charge as a senator representing his beloved Federal Capita Territory, in Nigeria’s second Senate. From here, he travelled widely to learn implement and oversee various developmental projects, both in the FCT, and his hometown of Abaji. In the course of the truncation of democracy exercise, which led to a coup in 1983, and major re-structuring which brought the appointment of military administrators most of the senators in the second Republic faced jail time and several other challenges, he eventually came out unscathed during that period, which saw him retire meritoriously from politics after putting almost 5 years in national service. On his safe return to his people and his private life, he was honoured with the traditional title of the Makama of Abaji, and was made a first class chief in acknowledgement of his good works as well as for flying the flag of Abaji people with pride on the national stage.
A remarkable aspect of Papa, as we fondly called him, is that he ensured that all his children were well brought up, with sound education while he also took time off to visit and consistently play active roles in community development. At retirement, he set up a 1,000-hectare farm at Abaji which gave jobs to many in the community, as well as provided livestock both for sale and rearing purposes for his friends and family.
My brother, Godwin Yakwo, in his contribution to this tribute, wrote thusly: “Our father was larger than life, and a beacon of light. He related with everyone equally regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation. The poor would naturally gravitate towards him because of his uncommon generosity. He would go the extra mile to meet the need of others. He was a man of the people who could speak different languages fluently and he was always ready to receive people from all walks of life. Although he had no formal training in architecture or engineering he was able to design and construct buildings with beautiful architectural designs that would stand the test of time. Till this day people marvel at how he was able to earn the reputation of being a master-builder without formal training. He also ventured into politics and became the first Senator to represent the FCT in the Senate in 1983. Personally, my interest in politics started with watching our father interact with his supporters and how benevolent he was towards them.”
Godwin also remembered, fondly, that our father spent most of his final days on his farm, adding that as a father, he set the bar high for his children as he was able to achieve a lot in different spheres of life and he is a source of inspiration to us all.
As our father Chief Daniel Yakwo is being interred, to join not only his ancestors and his beloved parents and siblings who passed on years ago, there is no doubt that he will surely be missed by many. I urge all his children, grandchildren, and in particular my mother Augustina, to take heart in the fact that Papa lived a good Christian life, worthy of emulation, and of celebration.
Yakwo wrote in from Abuja.