According to an An1erican educationist, Horace Mann (1 7961859), we all should be ashamed to die until we have won a victory for humanity. Nigeria was thrown into mourning when it was announced that the President and Commander in Chief of the country, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had died. The President died in his bedroom at the Presidential Villa, in Aso Rock, Abuja, on May 5, 2010. The President was buried in Katsina, Katsina State, on May 6, 2010, at Danmarma Cemetery, Katsina where his late father, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua and elder brother Major-General Musa Yar’Adua were buried. Before his death, he was diagnosed to be suffering from Kidney problem and acute pericarditis (inflammation of the outer covering of the heart). Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua became the president of Nigeria on May 29, 2007 and died on May 5, 2010. Before this time, he was the Governor of Katsina State from May 29, 1999 to May 28, 2007.
The late president was born in Katsina in 1951 to the family of Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who was the Minister for Lagos in the First Republic (1960-66). He had his early education at the Rafukka Primary School, Dutsina Boarding Primary School and Government College, Keffi between 1958 and 1969. The President had his higher education at Barewa College and the Ahamadu Bello University, Zaria, between 1971 and 1978, where he specialised in analytical chemistry in 1978.
After his National Youth Service Corps programme, he lectured at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria,’ Kaduna State. He left lecturing and went into the private sector in 1983. In the private sector he held various positions including Chairman, National House Press Limited from 1995 to 1999.
His political career started in the second Republic (1979-1983) when he was a member of the People’s Redemption Party. Yar’ Adua was a pioneer member of the People’s Front,. a political association under the leadership of his elder brother, late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’ Adua. That association later metamorphosed into the Social Democratic Party during the transition programme of General Ibrahim Babangida. In 1999, he was the governorship candidate of the People’s Delnocratic Party for Katsina State and won. He repeated this in 2003 and succeeded. It is on record that he was the First Governor to declare his assets. He also declared his assets as President of Nigeria. His eight-year tenure in Katsina State was a successful one. There was visible improvement in almost every sector of the state which greatly endeared him to the people of that state.
As already noted he became President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in May, 2007 and died in May, 2010 after three years due to illness. Meanwhile, many people have reacted to the death of the President. In his tribute, his successor President Goodluck Jonathan emphasised that President Yar’Adua’s contributions to political development and good governance would never be forgotten. He stressed that he would always occupy a pride of place in the political history of our dear nation. President Jonathan said, the late president was a man of great personal integrity, deep devotion to God and outstanding humility. According to him, in his public service he displayed uncommon commitment to the peace, progress and unity of our country. He stated that President Yar’Adua had left for us a profound legacy that provided a firm foundation for Nigeria’s future, adding that his exit had created a huge vacuum in his personal contributions to the political growth and development of our country.
In his own reaction, General Ibrahim Babangida said, it was pathetic and utterly painful. He pointed out that every death would bring with it tears of pain and sorrow, of grief and discomfiture. He stressed that Yar’Adua was great in death and graceful in life, adding that he represented our daily struggles in life’s bramble forest. Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim said, it was a great loss and a calamity. He emphasised that he was an honest leader and detribalised Nigerian who meant well for the masses. Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, described the death as a sad loss. He said, President Yar’Adua was an apostle of democracy and a firm believer in the rule of law and fair play stressing that he received the’ news with shock. Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylva described the death as a national tragedy. He said, Yar’Adua was a great leader who had the best intentions for the country.
All told, Yar’Adua spent three years in office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is from May, 2007 to May 2010. He was a peaceful man; very gentle in character and disposition. He believed in the rule of law and due process. That was why when the Supreme Court ruled that Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was the proper person to be the Governor of Rivers State, President Yar’Adua directed that he should be sworn in immediately. He did the same when Adams Oshiornhole of Action Congress won his case in Edo State. Also when Olusegun Mimiko was declared governor of Ondo State, he did order that he should be sworn in immediately. Yar’Adua brought peace to the Niger Delta Region with his amnesty programme. He set up the Niger Delta Ministry to be in charge of the Niger Delta affairs. He was a fair minded man who believed in equal opportunity to all. Again, that was the way he chosed Dr Goodluck Jonathan to be his running mate during Presidential elections of 2007. He released the Lagos State Local Government fund that was seized by his predecessor in office. He did not live to complete his tenure. Nobody can dictate to nature. That is life. But it is our opinion that he was a successful man and did win a victory for humanity. Goodbye, servant-leader.
Dr Tolofari Fellow, Institute of Corporate Administration of Nigeria.