Umaru Yar’Adua: End of an Era

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Polity, By Yusuph Olaniyonu

On Wednesday, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was pronounced dead. His death ended a chapter in the life of the nation. The death also opened a new era. Late Yar’adua as the 13th head of Nigeria’government represented many promises in the country which  have not been kept. For the 2007 general elections, he was selected as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), then under the control of President Olusegun Obasanjo,  for many  reasons.

First, the man had a family name recognition which could be used to counter the surging political support that candidates of rival parties like Major- General Muhammadu Buhari of ANPP and then Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the AC could count upon.

Again, the sponsors of his candidature concluded that among the governors whose tenure was about to expire in 2007, he was the most honest, prudent and one with the best record of developmental achievements in governance. All these points were added to the fact that his family was well known to Obasanjo who also felt the compelling need to compensate for the death in Abakaliki prison of the late president’s elder brother. Major- General Shehu Yar’Adua died in prison while serving terms for a contrived charge of plotting a coup to overthrow the dictatorial government of General Sani Abacha.

With his selection as the PDP candidate, Yar’Adua, the quintessential Katsina boy,  was thrown into national limelight. His election as president made him score many firsts in this country. He was the first university graduate to become president of Nigeria. He was the first elected governor to be catapulted to the higher office of president. He was the first elected president to take over power from another elected president. He was the first president to publicly declare his asset. He was the president who was in charge when Nigeria celebrated one decade of uninterrupted democratic rule.

More importantly, Yar’Adua was the first president who after being elected admitted that the electoral process which produced his administration was flawed and deserved a comprehensive reform. He then went ahead to institute a panel of eminent Nigerians to probe the process and suggest means of correcting the ills of the political system. His attempt to tackle the lingering Niger Delta problem is still the most result-oriented.

Anybody who listened to Yar’Adua dissecting the problems of Nigeria and what would be his approach to solving them would know that he was not a leader without an idea of what was wrong and how to correct it. He was always very analytical in demonstrating his understanding of the issues. His solutions were always methodical. Some said his approach was derived from his discipline as a graduate of analytical chemistry. He was a man who obviously had read widely about many issues.

His forceful arguments and the wide knowledge he displayed while discussing national issues showed a man with strong convictions. In his first 18 months in office, the late president enjoyed so much goodwill. Many Nigerians believed he could solve the power supply crisis, Niger Delta problem, food crisis, national security and other issues on the seven point agenda he enumerated to the nation.

 Unfortunately, his government appeared very slow in solving some of the problems he had identified. The people who had grown to distrust government could not wait to appreciate his methodical approach. The matter was made worse with the people who surrounded him as ministers and the key members of his inner cabinet. Many of them did not share his ideas and ideals. Many were only struggling to corner power and amass wealth. His cabinet lacked the men and women who could be seen as problem solvers and whose performance and ideas could inspire the people to support the government.

Nature was to later collude with those self serving members of the cabal around Yar’Adua to deny the nation the good leadership that his tenure could have offered. He was ill and had to manage his ill-health, most of the time. This slowed him down and robbed him of the energy to give attention to details as he would have wanted to do.

He suffered the last bout of sickness in November last year and that exposed the devious intention of the power-mongers who called themselves his friends and close associates. Instead of doing that which was right and constitutional, they decided to play politics with the president’s health. There were schemes to keep the sick president as a relic while the power mongers dished out orders in his name.

In the scheme designed by these selfish members of the cabal, the country would have been carved out as personal fiefdoms to be governed by each of them depending on their sphere of influence while atrocious actions would have been taken in the name of the sick president. These members of the cabal ensured there was no proper handover of power to then vice president Goodluck Jonathan. At the time the man should still be receiving treatment in a good hospital abroad, he was rushed home from the King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia under the cover of the night by those who thought they could still use his presence to fool Nigerians. But the nation demonstrated its capacity to deal with deviants in the power circle whose sole objective was to seize power for selfish objectives.

The various manipulations in which these Yar’Adua loyalists felt they could use the presence of the former president to intimidate the then acting president failed. In this unpatriotic maneuverings, the so-called loyalists have eroded the goodwill and tremendous support that Yar’Adua had when he first became the president of Nigeria. These people did tremendous damage to the image and reputation of an excellent, humble servant leader that Yar’Adua was.

Today, nature has resolved the issues. Death has restored what these court jesters deprived the late president. The man was yesterday buried in his Katsina hometown as a Nigerian hero and patriot. The manipulators have disappeared to go and mourn their personal losses. The Yar’Adua presidency has ended and a new era, the post-Yar’Adua era, has begun. The Jonathan presidency has fully taken off. Nigerians have to march on into the new frontier like soldiers of the lord. We hope Jonathan will be a good General who will lead the people into an era of stability, prosperity, unity and development.

But before we look forward to what the Jonathan presidency promises us all, we need at this moment to commiserate with the family of the late president. I sympathise mostly with that old woman, Hajiya Habiba Musa Yar’Adua. She had experienced too many deaths in her family, particularly after the death of her husband on June 22, 1993. May Almighty Allah (SWT) continue to grant her a stronger iman, good health, long life and allow her to witness positive developments in the lives of her other children, Lt. Col. Abdullahi Musa Yar’Adua, Alhaji Mustafa Musa Yar’Adua and her grand children and  great grandchildren. Amin.


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