Highlights of Late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua’s Career, Profile — His Achievements and Cause of Death

Like the popular saying ‘You don’t know the worth of what you have until you loose it’, Nigeria appreciated more the efforts of Late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua after his death. Here is the highlight of Yar’Adua’s Political career, Profile and achievements.

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (16 August 1951 – 5 May 2010) was the 13th president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007.

He was declared the winner of the controversial Nigerian presidential election held on 21 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. He was a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Presidency

In the presidential election, held on 21 April 2007, Yar’Adua won with 70% of the vote (24.6 million votes) according to official results released on 23 April.

The election was highly controversial. Strongly criticized by observers, as well as the two primary opposition candidates, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress (AC), its results were largely rejected as having been rigged in Yar’Adua’s favor.

After the election, Yar’Adua proposed a government of national unity. In late June 2007, two opposition parties, the ANPP and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA), agreed to join Yar’Adua’s government.

On 28 June 2007, Yar’Adua publicly revealed his declaration of assets from May (becoming the first Nigerian Leader to do so), according to which he had ₦856,452,892 (US$5.8 million) in assets, ₦19 million ($0.1 million) of which belonged to his wife.

He also had ₦88,793,269.77 ($0.5 million) in liabilities. This disclosure, which fulfilled a pre-election promise he made, was intended to set an example for other Nigerian politicians and discourage corruption.

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua

Yar’Adua’s new cabinet was sworn in on 26 July 2007. It included 39 ministers, including two for the ANPP.
Buhari and Abubakar filed petitions to have the results of the 2007 presidential election invalidated due to alleged fraud, but on 26 February 2008 a court rejected the petitions. Buhari and Abubakar said that they would appeal to the Supreme Court.

Marred by corruption, many argued that this election was rigged by Obasanjo as well, as he wanted his successor to have the same basic ideals that he possessed as President.

Seven point agenda

In August 2007, the administration unveiled a seven point agenda to be the focal point of the administration’s solution to developmental challenges and stated goal of elevating Nigeria to be among the twenty largest economies in the world by 2020. But by 2010, the administration was struggling to realize many of stated goals.

The power sector was not adequately funded, infrastructural deficit was not closed down and the troublesome process of reforming land use regulations hampered a reform of the land tenure law.

Below is the seven-point agenda;

  • Critical infrastructural development in power, energy and transportation
  • Focus on development issues in the Niger Delta. The government created a new ministry for Niger Delta affairs
  • Wealth creation through diversification of the economy and source of government revenue. A movement away from a fossil fuel dependent economy to a diversified economy.
  • Human capital development
  • Review of land tenure regulations towards a reform oriented goal
  • Security
  • Food security

Electoral reforms

A few months after his inauguration, the president established a presidential electoral reform committee to look into the legal factors, social and political institutions and security issues that affects the quality and credibility of elections in the country and also, to make recommendations on improving the credibility of elections.

The reform committee was headed by Muhammadu Uwais, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The twenty member committee submitted its report in December 2008, by then Yar’Adua’s health was failing.

Among the recommendations of the committee was constitutional measures to make INEC truly independent, removing some of the activities of INEC with the creation of an electoral offenses commission and a parties registration agency.

It also recommended speedy resolution of legal challenges of elections, presumably before the swearing in ceremony of the victor of the seat being challenged.

Illness and death

In December 2009 Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated that Yar’Adua should have handed over power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan in an acting capacity during his illness, a statement that was backed up by the NBA national executive committee.

On 22 January 2010, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had fourteen days to decide a resolution on whether Yar’Adua was “incapable of discharging the functions of his office”.

The ruling also stated that the Federal Executive Council should hear testimony of five doctors, one of whom should be Yar’Adua’s personal physician.

President Yar’Adua left Nigeria on 23 November 2009, and was reported to be receiving treatment for pericarditis at a clinic in Saudi Arabia. He was not seen in public again, and his absence created a dangerous power vacuum in Nigeria.

On 10 February 2010, the Senate controversially used the “doctrine of necessity” to transfer Presidential Powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, and declared him Acting President, with all the accompanying powers, until Yar’Adua returned to full health. The power transfer, considered illegal by some, has been called a “coup without the word” by opposition lawyers and lawmakers.

However, there are others that felt the power vacuum would lead to instability and a possible military takeover.

On 24 February 2010, Yar’Adua returned to Abuja under the cover of darkness. His state of health was unclear, but there was speculation that he was still on a life support machine.

Various political and religious figures in Nigeria had visited him during his illness saying he would make a recovery.

Yar’Adua died on 5 May at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.

An Islamic burial took place on 6 May in his hometown in Katsina.

Family and early life

Yar’Adua was born into an aristocratic Fulani family in Katsina; his father, a former Minister for Lagos during the First republic, held the chieftaincy title of Matawalle (or custodian of the royal treasury) of the Katsina Emirate, a title which Yar’Adua inherited.

He started his education at Rafukka Primary School in 1958, and moved to Dutsinma Boarding Primary School in 1962. He attended the Government College at Keffi from 1965 until 1969. In 1971 he received a Higher School Certificate from Barewa College.

He attended Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria from 1972 to 1975, where he obtained a B.Sc. degree in Education and Chemistry, and then returned in 1978 to pursue an M.Sc. degree in Analytical Chemistry.

Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua married Turai Umaru Yar’Adua of Katsina in 1975; they had seven children (five daughters and two sons).

Their daughter Zainab is married to Kebbi State governor Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari.

Their daughter Nafisat is married to Bauchi Stategovernor Isa Yuguda.

Yar’Adua was married to Hauwa Umar Radda as a second wife from 1992 to 1997. They had two children.

Professional career

Yar’Adua’s first employment was at Holy Child College in Lagos (1975–76). He later served as a lecturer at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Zaria, Kaduna State, between 1976 and 1979. In 1979, he began working as a lecturer at College of Art Science, remaining in this position until 1983, when he began working in the corporate sector.

Yar’Adua worked at Sambo Farms Ltd in Funtua, Katsina State, as its pioneer General Manager between 1983 and 1989. He served as a Board Member of Katsina State Farmers’ Supply Company between 1984 and 1985, Member of the Governing Council of Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology Zaria and Katsina Polytechnic between 1978 and 1983, Board Chairman of Katsina State Investment and Property Development Company (KIPDECO) between 1994 and 1996.

He served as a director of many companies, including Habib Nigeria Bank Ltd, 1995–99; Lodigiani Nigeria Ltd, 1987–99, Hamada Holdings, 1983–99; and Madara Ltd, Vom, Jos, 1987–99. He was Chairman of Nation House Press Ltd, Kaduna, from 1995 to 1999.

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