Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (16 August 1951 – 5 May 2010) was the 13th president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
13th President of Nigeria
In office: 29 May 2007 – 5 May 2010
Vice President: Goodluck Jonathan
Preceded by: Olusegun Obasanjo
Succeeded by: Goodluck Jonathan
Governor of Katsina
In office: 29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007
Preceded by: Joseph Akaagerger (Military)
Succeeded by: Ibrahim Shema
Full Name: Umaru Musa Yar’Adua
Born: 16 August 1951
Birth place: Katsina, Northern Region, British Nigeria (now Katsina, Nigeria)
Died: 5 May 2010 (aged 58)
Death place: Aso Villa, Abuja, Nigeria
Buried: 6 May 2010, Danmarna, Katsina
Political party: PDP (1998–2010)
Other political affiliations: PRP (Before 1989) SDP (1989–1998)
Famous as: President of federal republic of Nigeria
Spouse(s): Turai Yar’Adua (1975–2010), Hauwa Radda (1992–1997)
Relations: Musa Yar’Adua (father), Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (brother)
Children: 9 Zainab Yar’Adua Dakingari, Nafisat Yar’Adua Yuguda and others
Alma mater: Barewa College, Ahmadu Bello University
Awards: CAF Platinum Award
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was born into an aristocratic Fulani family in Katsina; his father, Musa Yar’Adua, was a Minister for Lagos in the First Republic and 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.
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Umaru Musa Yar’Adua 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.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua 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.
Umaru Musa 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 between 1994 and 1996.
He also 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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During the Second Republic (1979–83), Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was a member of the leftist People’s Redemption Party, while his father was briefly the National Vice Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria.
During the transition programme of General Ibrahim Babangida to the Third Republic, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was one of the foundation members of the Peoples Front with other members such as Atiku Abubakar, Yahaya Kwande, Sabo Bakin Zuwo, Wada Abubakar, Abdullahi Aliyu Sumaila and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a political association under the leadership of his elder brother, the late Major-General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.
That association later fused to form the Social Democratic Party. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was a member of the 1988 Constituent Assembly.
He was a member of the party’s National Caucus and the SDP State Secretary in Katsina and contested the 1991 Governorship election, but lost to Saidu Barda, the candidate of the National Republican Convention and an ally of Babangida.
Governor of Katsina
In 1999, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua won the state governorship. He was the first governor to publicly declare his assets.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua administration saw various developments in the state. Katsina became the fifth northern Nigerian state to adopt sharia, or Islamic law.
Education was prioritised and several schools were built in local areas. Yar’Adua also delivered on his promise of running an efficient public administration, with corruption significantly hampered. He was later re-elected in 2003.
According to a public hearing that was carried out shortly after his death in May 2010, there has never been a Governor like him in the history of Katsina State.
2007 presidential election
On 16–17 December 2006, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was chosen as the presidential candidate of the ruling PDP for the April 2007 election, receiving 3,024 votes from party delegates; his closest rival, Rochas Okorocha, received 372 votes.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua success in the primary was attributed to the support of incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo; At the time of his nomination he was an obscure figure on the national stage, and has been described as a “puppet” of Obasanjo who could not have won the nomination under fair circumstances.
Shortly after winning the nomination, Yar’Adua chose Goodluck Jonathan, governor of Bayelsa State, as his vice-presidential candidate.
Another view of the support he received from President Obasanjo is that he was one of few serving governors with a spotless record, devoid of any suspicions or charges of corruption.
He also belonged to the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) – a powerful political block founded by his late brother, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who was also Obasanjo’s vice president during his military rule.
In the presidential election, held on 21 April 2007, Umaru Musa 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 favour.
After the election, Umaru Musa 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.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua new cabinet was sworn in on 26 July 2007. It included 39 ministers, including two for the ANPP.
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.
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
Due to his illness and death, the administration was unable to realise the agenda. 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.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua 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. 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.
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 power vacuum which was usurped by a cabal.
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.
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Doctrine of necessity
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.
Death and aftermath
In 2009, Yar’Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis. He returned to Nigeria on 24 February 2010, where he died on 5 May.
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.
The Federal Government of Nigeria declared a seven-day mourning period. Acting President Goodluck Jonathan said “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.”
US President Barack Obama offered condolences, stating: “He was committed to creating lasting peace and prosperity within Nigeria’s own borders, and continuing that work will be an important part of honoring his legacy.”
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Family and personal life
Alhaji Umaru Musa 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 Nafisa is married to Bauchi State governor Isa Yuguda.
Their daughter Maryam is married to Katsina State governor Ibrahim Shema. Yar’Adua was married to Hauwa Umar Radda as a second wife from 1992 to 1997.
They had two children. all his grandchildren from both wives are umar, anisa, maryam, mima, umar, musa, hammed, umar, hannad, umar and anisa.
In 2007, Umaru Yar’Adua, who suffered from a kidney condition, challenged his critics to a game of squash in an endeavor to end speculations about his health.
On 6 March 2007 he was flown to Germany for medical reasons, further fomenting rumors about his health.
His spokesperson said this was due to stress and quoted Yar’Adua as saying he was fine and would soon be back to campaigning.
Another report, which was rejected by Yar’Adua’s spokesperson, claims that Yar’Adua collapsed after suffering a possible heart attack.
On 28 June 2007, Yar’Adua publicly revealed his declaration of assets from May (becoming the first Nigerian president 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.