Late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua

All human beings will live until a certain day and then die; God in the Quran gives an account of the attitude commonly shown towards death in the following verse: “The death from which you flee away will truly overtake you: then you will be sent back to the Knower of things secret and open: and He will tell you (the truth of) the things that you did!” (Suratul Al-Jumu’ah:8).

It is exactly nine years on Sunday 4th May 2019 since the demise of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. He became the first civilian president to replace another since independence in 1960. Another unique feature about President Yar’Adua was that he was the first president with a university degree –a degree in chemistry, masters in analytical chemistry and proud teacher of reputable standing. He came into office after a hotly contested election marred by fraud and violence.

He took office as president promising to pursue electoral reforms and listed the seven-point agenda including improving power supply, boosting agriculture, reducing food insecurity, fighting corruption and raising education standards. Yar’Adua also proposed government of national unity where two opposition parties, the ANPP and the PPA agreed to join his government.

The late president’s frugality and incorruptibility are well known. Here is a man who won election with 70% of votes cast in a fraudulent poll but promptly declared it flawed. He is the first Nigerian president both military and civilian to publicly declare his assets on assumption of office unlike some who preached transparency and accountability but later proved to be cesspool of sleaze. The declaration showed that he had N856,452,892 in assets ,N19 million belonging to his wife, and N88,793,269 in liabilities .

He also cancelled the sale of Kaduna Refinery to a company largely owned by business moguls Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedol as well as inaugurated Justice Muhammad Uwais –led electoral reform committee to purify the electoral system.

Yar’Adua, no doubt, performed creditably both as Governor of Katsina and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Even though, he could not achieved all the seven-point agenda, all that could pass for his legacy is the creation of the Niger Delta Ministry and the amnesty he offered militants in the restive Niger Delta which restored peace and stability in the oil-rich area.

Late President Umaru exuded discipline, humility and simplicity not readily associated with Nigerian politicians. Under his presidency, extensive banking reforms were introduced under Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now Emir of Kano). In these reforms, the rot in the industry become apparent. Powerful and influential names in the banking industry found to have abused customer confidence and mismanaged depositors funds were fired and prosecuted for their role in various alleged scams in the industry.

To the credit of President Yar’Adua was the bold step in approving a long standing government plan to dredge the River Niger. The project with huge economic potential for the country had been on the drawing board of successive administrations but no concrete decision was taken to advance it.

Yar’Adua’s greatest strength was his love for peace in Nigeria and Africa. As president he chose dialogue, peace and worked to resolve the lingering crisis in the Niger-Delta region, the same way he chose peaceful method in resolving other political crises in parts of the West African sub-region.

His 30 months tenure was marked by a sense of national rebirth and development as a committed patriot and true servant of the people who believed strongly in peace and equity as key panacea for national development. His commitment to vision 20:2020 was aimed at giving Nigeria and Nigerians a new lease of life.

Ahmad Muhammad Danyaro Danyaro, Abuja