A peep into Yar’adua’s 3 years in presidency
Former president, Umaru Musa Yar’adua, led Nigeria between May 29, 2007 and May 5, 2010.
Undoubtedly, Yar’adua’s three years as president were legendary, basically due to his frugal disposition to life, meticulousness to details and commitment to service.
Many Nigerians believed Yar’adua meant well for the country, but not a few also raised concerns over what they saw as his slow approach to governance and therefore named him “Baba Go slow.”
Nevertheless, his administration had carved a niche for itself through his unprecedented respect for the rule of law and due process.
After his departure, the country he led experienced so many betrayals, as some would say.
His erstwhile deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, was sworn in as president after the death of the ailing commander-in-chief. Jonathan earlier served as acting president through the National Assembly’s ‘doctrine of necessity’ which, according to many, saved the country from constitutional crisis.
With a new man in charge, some of Yar’adua’s policies, would have led Nigeria to greatness, were controversially reversed. Even the power rotation that brought him to power was trampled upon.
The new cabinet was peopled by many faces and all the Yar’adua’s men, who were said to have caged him, were sacked. It was a new regime, new policies and new strategies. The then all powerful first lady, Hajiya Turai Yar’adua, was humbled in the president’s hometown, Katsina.
The entire president’s men, popularly known as the cabal (courtesy of late Professor Dora Akunyili), were equally humbled. Yar’adua is today remembered by many, if not all Nigerians, for good or bad.
In the Niger Delta for instance, if the political class seems to have forgotten him, the youth, particularly those that took arms against the state will never forget him.
Yar’adua was the one who rolled out the Amnesty Programme which saw hundreds of them going abroad for studies and professional training.
Many of them have since returned to Nigeria as reformed citizens while others are making positive impact in various fields of endeavour across the world.
Yar’adua deconstructed power because he was not intoxicated by it, a fact that even his critics have attested to. He did not pay lip service to the rule of law and due process he preached.
Under his watch, the courts regained their freedom. They handed down verdicts that cancelled political victories even though his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was the victim.
Despite Yar’adua’s ill-health, he pioneered laudable projects across the country.
• Initiated various 10 lane express road
• The Abuja metro lane
• Abuja-Kaduna rail
• Lagos-Kano rail
• Dredging of River Niger, which was abandoned for decades.
• Appointed Sanusi Lamido Sanusi the governor of the Central Bank.
• Reversed some of ex-president Obasanjo’s decisions considered to be against the national interest such as the sale of three refineries.
• Fought corruption in his own way.
• Pioneered the policy of returning unspent funds to the national treasury at the end of the fiscal year
• Prosecuted and jailed those believed to be above the law e.g his party chieftain, Chief Olabode George.
• Released the N10 billion Lagos State local government councils’ funds withheld by Obasanjo.
Despite these high sounding achievements, it was during his administration that the prejudicial murder of Muhammad Yusuf and hundreds of his Boko Haram followers in Borno, Yobe and Bauchi states was carried out in July, 2009, a development that culminated in the many years that Nigeria has been battling with insurgency.
Rise to prominence
By Hamza Idris
Late Yar’adua’s journey to the presidency, and eventual exit after about three years in power, had indeed changed the face of Nigeria’s democratic evolution.
His emergence as the presidential candidate of then ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which saw the first transition from one political leader to another in Nigeria, was heralded by widespread scheming orchestrated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Yar’adua became PDPs flag-bearer after Obasanjo, who presided over as president for eight years, failed in his bid to get a third term in office.
The development made the presidential ticket a delight for many contenders, especially PDP governors at the time, who deployed their energies with a view to edging out one another.
The likes of Ahmed Makarfi (Kaduna), Saminu Turaki (Jigawa), Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu (Bauchi), Peter Odili (Rivers), Donald Duke (Cross River), among others, showed interest in becoming the number one citizen.
Wittingly or unwittingly, Obasanjo, in his usual characteristic, allowed all of them to ventilate their political promises if voted into power.
At last, using the instrument of state, including the EFCC, Obasanjo intimidated most of the contenders out of the race, a development that paved the way for Yar’adua, who was at the time governor of Katsina State, to emerge as presidential candidate.
Though generally seen as an introvert, late Yar’adua hailed from a technocratic family which played pivotal role in Nigeria’s political history.
His father, Alhaji Musa Yar’adua, was Nigeria’s Minister of Lagos Affairs during the First Republic and held the title of Matawalle (Custodian of the Treasury).
His elder brother, Shehu Musa Yar’adua (Tafidan Katsina) was a legendary army officer, who rose to the rank of second in command during Obasanjo’s stint as head of state.
However, right from his campaign days, up till his ascension to power and death, Yar’adua life marked a symbolic sojourn, embroidered with controversies, uncertainties, suspense and power tussle.
His life in office also exuded some of the controversial political lexicons that adorned Nigeria’s political dictionary.
It was during Yar’adua’s time that words like ‘cabal’ became handy for politicians that rose against those close to him during his illness.
Similarly, expressions such as ‘take the path of honour’, a statement made by Obasanjo, in reference to the ill-health status of Yar’adua was used across the land to mount pressure on the Katsina-born politician to resign.
Also, the ‘doctrine of necessity’, uttered by former Senate president David Mark, was lavishly used during Yar’adua’s last days as president.
The doctrine of necessity is the basis on which extra-legal actions, which are designed to restore order, are taken by state actors.
The fundamental objective of the doctrine is to satisfy the exigencies which have been created by certain situations outside the contemplation of the constitution or the rule of law.
When Yar’adua’s illness forced him to remain incommunicado, the National Assembly adopted to effect that Goodluck Jonathan, who was then the vice president, became the acting president and thereafter substantive president.
Late Umaru Yar’adua (GCFR) was born on August 16, 1951 and died on May 5, 2010.
He served as governor of Katsina State from May 29, 1999 to May 28, 2007.
He started his education at Rafukka Primary School in 1958, and moved to Dutsinma Boarding Primary School in 1962. He attended the Government College, Keffi in present day Nasarawa State from 1965 until 1969. In 1971 he received a Higher School Certificate from Barewa College.
He attended Ahmadu Bello University Zaria from 1972 to 1975, obtaining a B.Sc. degree in Education and Chemistry, and then returned in 1978 for his M.Sc. degree in Analytical Chemistry.
Yar’adua became the first Nigerian graduate to become president.
He had seven children from his first wife, Hajiya Turai, and two from another wife, Hauwa, whom he had divorced long before he became president.
During the Second Republic (1979-1983), Yar’adua was a member of the leftist People’s Redemption Party (PRP), while his father was briefly the national vice chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He was at different times a foundation member of the Peoples Front, a political association under the leadership of his elder brother, late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. That association later fused to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
He was also a member of the 1988 Constituent Assembly.
Why Yar’adua’s family will remain relevant
Beside the long political affinity of his larger family, late Yar’adua’s immediate family will equally remain in the front burner of political discourse in Nigeria.
At present, three of his daughters are married to outstanding politicians, including former governors Saidu Dakingari of (Kebbi) Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina).
We still miss Yar’adua
– Former wife
From Andrew Agbese, Kaduna
A former wife to the late Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Hajiya Hauwa Radda, said the former president was committed to the development of the nation.
She said besides his official engagements, Yar’adua still had time for his family.
While recalling the lifetime of the late president in a phone conversation with our correspondent, Hajiya Hauwa, who is currently in London, said his major preoccupation had always been his country and family.
‘Yar’adua breathed and ate Nigeria,’ she said.
Hajiya Hauwa said the vision of the former president was to transmute Nigeria into one of the 20 biggest economies in the world through the implementation of his vision 202020 programme.
“That vision was a blueprint he lived and died with. His idea was to provide adequate security, power, industrialise Nigeria and rid the nation of corruption as well as sanitise the electoral system,” she said.
Hajiya Hauwa further explained that the late president was a patriot whose love for his country was unequalled in the annals of leadership in the nation’s history.
“We remember him as a friendly husband, a father and above all, a leader that sacrificed his life for our nation,” she said.
She said she never saw a leader who did not accord value to materialism as Yar’adua. “He despised materialism,” she said.
“He believed that for human dignity to have any meaning, it should work for the betterment of all, not for selfish demands,” she said.
Hajiya Hauwa said she regretted the loss of Yar’Adua because he was not able to achieve his vision for the nation.
She therefore called for continued prayers for the late leader and also urged Nigerians to support the current government’s efforts at steering the nation to greatness.
“A great nation is a vision the former president would have lent support to were he alive today,” she said.
She said all family members of the late president were currently in London for the five year remembrance prayers.
She said the family will today, by 4pm in London, at the residence of Hajiya Turai Yar’adua, hold the 5 years’ remembrance prayers.
He distanced family from power circle – Brother
From Habibu Umar Aminu, Katsina
Late Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s inability to see through his transformation agenda will not be forgotten easily, his younger brother, Mustapha Musa Yar’adua, has said.
Speaking with Daily Trust in Katsina, Mustapha said Yar’adua had wanted the best for the country.
“Whenever I’m with him, his transformation plans for the country was his subject of discussion,” he said.
“Our late brother never involved any of us (his family) in governance except those who were already in government,” he said.
“In terms of discipline, he took after our late father and our elder brother, the late General Shehu.
“Umaru was very honest and sincere, not only in dealing with his immediate family, but the larger society,” Mustapha said.
Asked if the present government was reaching out to their family, Mustapha said, “Well, for now it’s a new government in place…And as you know, while he was alive, our brother was in the PDP, I don’t think if there was any move to reach the family. Of course, there was contact when the former party held sway,” he said.
SSG: How he laid foundation for Katsina’s growth
From Habibu Umar Aminu, Katsina
Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua was an honest, focused and visionary leader who can be said to be slow in taking decision so as to arrived at the best, his former commissioner and Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mustapha Inuwa, has said.
Speaking with Daily Trust, Inuwa, who is also the current SSG in the state, said late Yar’adua was a man who lent his ears to everybody in order to have divergent views and agree on superior arguments even from his subordinates.
He said during his tenure as governor, Yar’adua believed in self and financial discipline as he conducted his work with diligence and respect.
“Umaru came to office and met only N10 million in the treasury with debt of over N550 million. He was able to pay all the debts, completed all inherited works and embarked on many which were completed.
“The only one that he did not complete was the Karkanda Stadium,” the SSG said.
He said the present administration in the state would always stand by late Yar’adua’s family, whom he described as the architect of modern Katsina.
“I may not be speaking on behalf of the family, but, I believe they are doing well because all entitlements owed them by the state government have been settled,” he said.
Yar’adua not perfect but focused – Adeniyi
Mr Segun Adeniyi, the Special Adviser to late Yar’adua on Media and Publicity, said the late president was not perfect but actually did his best.
“Like the rest of us, he was not a perfect man but he was a honest and focused leader, who had an idea of what he wanted to achieve in office and had a clear vision of how he would do that.
Unfortunately, he was hampered by serious health challenge that ultimately cut short his life and presidency.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan who was then the acting president said shortly after the death of Yar’adua: “Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown and even the heavens mourn with our nation tonight. As individuals and as a nation we prayed for the recovery of Mr President. But we take solace in the fact that the Almighty is the giver and taker of all life.”
On his part, US President Barack Obama, said “Yar’adua was committed to creating lasting peace and prosperity within Nigeria’s own borders, and continuing that work will be an important part of honouring his legacy.”
source: Daily Trust