The President said this during the weekly Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, meeting held on Wednesday. He said this while eulogising the late Governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa. The Council, Wednesday, honoured the victims of last Saturday's helicopter crash by rescheduling all its memos slated for discussion to next year. The decision to adjourn the meeting to January 9 was in honour of the Mr. Yakowa, who lost his life in the crash along with the former National Security Adviser, Andrew Azazi; their aides, Dauda Tsoho and Mohammed Kamal; as well as the pilots of the helicopter, Muritala Daba and Adeyemi Sowole, Mr. Jonathan, who announced the decision shortly before adjourning the special valedictory FEC session, said he would be leading a government delegation to the burial on Thursday.
The agenda of the meeting included discussions on the proposed Nigeria centenary celebrations of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates to form Nigeria in 1914; and continuation of the appraisal of ministries, departments and agencies by four ministers.
Politicians exploit religion
The President, in his brief remarks, described the late Mr. Yakowa as a rare politician who believed in the country's unity and never exploited ethnic or religious sentiments for selfish gains. He referred to Mr. Azazi as a fine and selfless officer who served his country meritoriously.
"All the victims are Nigerians that have served this country in various capacities," the president said. "For Governor Yakowa, I knew him when he became the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State. I had some interactions with him and since we have been interacting. He was a different class of politician.
"Most of us who are politicians exploit religious sentiments to divide Nigerians for our own selfish gains. We exploit north-south divide to divide Nigerians for our selfish gains. But Yakowa was very different. He was a gentleman who believed in the unity of this country," the President said he did not know Mr. Azazi until 2004 when the latter was made the Director of Military Intelligence. Mr. Jonathan was then the deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
"From that time, we started interacting. He was made Chief of Defense Staff in 2007 when I was Vice President to the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. I also made him the National Security Adviser when I became the President.
"I saw him as somebody who meant well for this country. The gentleman has worked very well for this country," Mr. Jonathan said of the late Mr. Azazi.
Mr. Jonathan, on behalf of the Federal Executive Council, also expressed condolences to the families of the deceased, Kaduna State, and Bayelsa State. Vice President Namadi Sambo, in his speech said he received the news of the crash with great shock and deep pain. He described Mr. Yakowa, whom he said he knew for over 25 years, as a peaceful and selfless gentleman.
He said their paths had crossed when he (Mr. Yakowa) was made a Commissioner for Agriculture in Kaduna State in 1986. He said he had personally requested that Mr. Yakowa be posted to his ministry when he was appointed Permanent Secretary because of the deceased's thoroughness in doing his work.
"He was a bridge builder and I can say he had successfully built that bridge, because today all citizens of Kaduna are mourning him. His footprints can never be forgotten in Kaduna. He is a great man. He is a great loss not only to Kaduna, but Nigeria. We will never forget him," he said.
The Vice President also described Mr. Azazi as a fine gentleman. Several ministers also expressed their condolences to the families of the departed and later observed a minute's silence in their honour.