Wednesday, May 5, 2020 marked exactly 10 years since the curtains fell on a good man, humble patriot and former president of Nigeria, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He was 58. Even before he assumed power on May 29, 2007, Yar’ Adua was obviously a sick man. Having just finished his eight years as Governor of Katsina State, all he wanted was to go back to the classroom as a lecturer.

But for reasons best known to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Yar’ Adua was dragged into the presidential race on the platform of the then-dominant ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. He defeated his main challengers, General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP and Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, by a landslide in the 2007 presidential election.

In his maiden broadcast to the nation after being sworn-in, Yar’ Adua displayed the candour that was to mirror his short-lived tenure: he admitted that the election conducted by Prof. Maurice Iwu’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was “flawed” and vowed to reform our electoral process.

Shortly after, he set up the Justice Mohammed Uwais panel which wrote a report which had it been implemented, would have put much of our terrible electoral woes behind us. When Yar’Adua died his successor and former Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, could not effectively follow through the reforms.

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Yar’ Adua is also fondly remembered as a man of genuine (not propaganda) integrity. He had publicly declared his assets and liabilities, including those of his close family members, a standard no other president after him has met. He also brought the 10-year-old armed militancy in the Niger Delta to an end through his Amnesty Programme in August 2008, a legacy that has endured through two subsequent regimes till date.

Yar’Adua served like a true democrat and was fair to all sections of Nigeria. He never harboured a hostile mindset towards any group. However, due to his health problems, his government was hijacked early by some individuals close to him who wielded power until Nigerians pushed for a Doctrine of Necessity to empower Vice President Jonathan on February 9, 2010.

Not much can be pinned down in terms of physical infrastructure as fallouts of Yar’ Adua’s Seven-Point Agenda. But we definitely remember that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, led by Prof Chukwuma Soludo under Yar’ Adua’s presidency, competently steered Nigeria clear of the worldwide financial meltdown of 2008.

Yar’Adua came from an elite politically-connected family. His father, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua, was the first and only Minister of Lagos Affairs in the First Republic, while his elder brother, the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters(military vice-president) to Gen Obasanjo as Head of State.

We will always cherish his memory.


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