Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President of Nigeria, Died at 59

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Dead, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on the 5th of May 2010 at the age of 59, he was the President of Nigeria and the 13th Head of State.

He served as governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007.

Born into an aristocratic Fulani family in Katsina; his father, a former Minister for Lagos during the First republic, held the royal title of Mutawalli (custodian of the 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.

He attended the Government College at Keffi from 1965 until 1969.

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 (KIPDECO) between 1994 and 1996.

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 President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Yar’Adua was one of the foundation members of the Peoples Front, 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.

Yar’Adua was a member of the 1988 Constituent Assembly.

To the surprise of many, in 2006 Yar’Adua was selected by the Nigerian president and PDP leader, Olusegun Obasanjo, to be the PDP’s candidate in the presidential elections scheduled for the next year.

Although Yar’Adua ran against several well-known and popular Nigerian military leaders and politicians, he went on to win a decisive landslide victory with 70 percent of the vote in the April 2007 election.

His victory was clouded, however, as the election was marred by widespread violence, voter intimidation, and reports of vote rigging and was strongly criticized by domestic and international observers.

Nonetheless, on May 29, 2007, in the capital of Abuja, he was inaugurated as Nigeria’s 13th president.

The ceremony had particular historical significance, as it was the first time in the country’s history that an elected civilian head of state had handed over power to another.

Yar’Adua’s ability to serve while dealing with health issues was called into question after he went to Saudi Arabia in late November 2009 for treatment of heart problems and kidney problems.

After he had been absent from Nigeria for several weeks, critics complained of a power vacuum in the country, and there were calls for Yar’Adua to formally transfer power to the vice president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Although a ruling by a Nigerian court on January 29, 2010, indicated that Yar’Adua was not obligated to hand over power to the vice president while he was out of the country for medical treatment, the controversy surrounding his prolonged absence remained.

On February 9, 2010, the National Assembly voted to have Jonathan assume full power and serve as acting president until Yar’Adua was able to resume his duties.

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