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Adieu Yar’ Adua, man of peace

Finally, on Wednesday, May 5th at about 9.pm, late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua gave up the ghost after a brave, five-month battle against acute pericarditis. This brought to a close a long history of poor health which the 58 year-old president had suffered but was strong enough to bear throughout his eleven years of service as the Chief Executive of his native Katsina State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

When his sickness entered the terminal stages, the nation was plunged into a flux of uncertainties, forcing the leaders of the National Assembly to erase the ensuing vacuum by invoking the unconstitutional Doctrine of Necessity to elevate Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to Acting President and Commander-in-Chief.

Nigerians had invested in a lot of prayers on the ailing president and had wished him to recover and at least go home and recuperate. But the will of God is supreme and we accept His supreme verdict since death is the debt all mortals owe and must pay – eventually.

While Yar’ Adua presided over the affairs of this nation, he demonstrated deep passion and love for the country, and expressed a fervent wish to see Nigeria make giant leaps from its current lowly standing to become the 20th most developed economy in the world by the year 2020, for which a committee was set up generate ideas for its actualisation.

In the interim, the Yar’ Adua administration packaged the Seven-Point Agenda covering the following areas: power supply, food security and agriculture, wealth creation and employment, mass transportation, security, land reform and the Niger Delta.

Perhaps due to the indisposition that shadowed much of his time in office, his economic agenda was unable to unfold fully, and very little was achieved on the Seven-Point-Agenda, which prompted concerned Nigerians to advise that the agenda be cut down to enable the regime achieve something concrete before the end of its four year tenure. This could not be done before the president’s illness took a turn for the worst.

However, there were concrete achievements, especially on the political front, which have also favourably affected the economy. Prominent among these was the amnesty offered the militants of the Niger Delta. The president made a proclamation on Friday June 26th 2009 giving the militants of the Niger Delta until October 4th 2009 to surrender their weapons and embrace full amnesty, failing which they would thereafter be considered as criminals.

To the surprise and relief of Nigerians, the programme was very enthusiastically subscribed to by the armed youths. Thus, without further firing any shots, the armed struggle in the nation’s oil-bearing zone was brought to an amicable end; an achievement that military expeditions never succeeded in recording in the past.

Yar’ Adua’s 30 months in power also brought about relative peace in the country, especially on the political front. Being a man who believed in due process and the rule of law, Yar’ Adua did not interfere with affairs of the National Assembly as his predecessor did.

He never meddled in the internal affairs of states, and he not only allowed the judiciary a free hand, he also ensured that all court verdicts, even when they went against his party, were carried out promptly. This went in no little way in bringing peace to a polity which was hitherto on the boil because of the ways in which the preceding regime used and abused political power.

Yar’ Adua will also be remembered for his spirited efforts to restore the power sector, reform the oil industry, introduce the land reform bill, the civil service reforms (in which he eschewed the antics of regional hawks), as well as the electoral reforms, all of which are still ongoing.

However, we have a few lessons to learn from him for a better handling of public affairs. His greatest fault was the regional or sectional structure of his power base. He favoured a section of the country, particularly his Katsina native home state in the distribution of employment opportunities in the federal government.

He also employed some hawks around the presidency, such as Chief Mike Aondoakaa, who did not exactly contribute in making his image smell rosy. In fact, Aondoakaa’s stint in Yar’ Adua’s cabinet as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice was seen as a period when the war on corruption was doused.

At the end of the day, Yar’ Adua was a good man, a patriotic leader who knew and said all the right things, which he would obviously have been in a better position to implement if his health problem had not taken so much out of him. We cherish his contributions to the nation and join millions of Nigerians in offering our condolences to his aged mother and family while praying for the repose of his soul.
Adieu, Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua.


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