Yar’adua: Nine painful years without Servant Leader
By Ahmad Muhammad Danyaro
All human beings will live until a certain day and then die; God in the Qur’an gives an account of the attitude commonly shown towards death in the following verse: Say: “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 President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mallam Umaru Musa Yar’Adua who died after a protracted illness on 4th May 2009. 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, Master’s 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 listing 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 per cent of votes cast in a fraudulent poll but promptly declared it flawed. He was the first Nigerian President both military and civilian to publically declare his assets on assumption of office unlike some who preached transparency and accountability but later proved to be cesspools 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 Otedola as well as inaugurated Justice Muhammad Uwais-led electoral reform committee to purify the electoral system according to global standards.
Yar’Adua, no doubt, performed creditably both as Governor of Katsina and President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was servant leader with a legacy of a seven-point agenda as well as apostle of rule of law and due process.
Even though he could not achieve all the seven-point agenda, all that could pass for his legacy was the creation of the Niger-Delta Ministry and the amnesty he offered militants in the restive Niger Delta region, which restored peace and stability in the oil-rich area almost miraculously.
Late President Yar’Aduas dispositions exuded discipline, absolute humility and simplicity not readily associated by 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 became 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 roles 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 potentials for the country, its plan had been on drawing boards of successive administrations since independence, but no concrete decision was taken to advance it until Yar’Adua made the courageous move.
President Yar’Adua’s profound decency and integrity, his deep commitment to public service and his passionate belief in the vast potential and bright future of Nigerian people was amazing. He worked to promote peace and stability in Africa through his support of Nigerian peace-keeping mission efforts as well as his strong criticism of undemocratic actions in the African region.
Yar’Adua’s greatest strength lied in 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 that erupted in parts of the West African sub-region.
During his tenure as Chairman of Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS between 2009 and 2010, he was very active in spearheading regional efforts toward ensuring that the goals of regional integration, in particular, peace and security, were achieved.
His 30 months tenure was marked by a sense of national rebirth and development as a committed patriot and a true servant of the people who believed strongly in peace and equity as panacea for national development. His commitment to vision 20:2020 was aimed at giving Nigeria and Nigerians a new lease of life.
As you mark nine years in the great beyond, May Allah forgive all your sins and reward your good deeds with Jannatul –Fir-Daus. Amin.
Danyaro wrote in from Abuja and can be reached on ahmaddanyaro email@example.com