Umaru Musa Yar'Adua

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Umaru Musa Yar'Adua
Yar'Adua in 2007.
13th President of Nigeria
In office
29 May 2007 – 5 May 2010
Vice PresidentGoodluck Jonathan
Preceded byOlusegun Obasanjo
Succeeded byGoodluck Jonathan
Governor of Katsina
In office
29 May 1999 – 29 May 2007
Preceded byJoseph Akaagerger (military administrator)
Succeeded byIbrahim Shema
Personal details
Born(1951-08-16)16 August 1951
Katsina, Katsina State, Nigeria
Died5 May 2010(2010-05-05) (aged 58)
Aso Villa, Abuja, Nigeria
Political partyPeople's Democratic Party (1998–2010)
Other political
Alma mater

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (16 August 1951 – 5 May 2010)[1][2][3] was the 13th president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007. He was declared the winner of the controversial Nigerian presidential election held on 21 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. He was a member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). 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.[4]

Family and early life[edit]

Yar'Adua was born into an aristocratic Fulani family in Katsina;[5] his father, a Minister for Lagos during the First republic, held the chieftaincy title of Matawalle (or custodian of the royal treasury) of the Katsina Emirate, a title which Yar'Adua inherited.[6][7] 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. In 1971 he received a Higher School Certificate from Barewa College.[8] 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.[8]

Alhaji Umaru Yar'Adua married Turai Umaru Yar'Adua of Katsina in 1975;[9] they had seven children (five daughters and two sons).[10] Their daughter Zainab is married to Kebbi State governor Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari.[11] Their daughter Nafisa is married to Bauchi State governor Isa Yuguda.[12][13] 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.[14][15]

Professional career[edit]

Yar'Adua's 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.[16]

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. He 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.[citation needed]

Early political career[edit]


During the Second Republic (1979–83), 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. 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. In 1999, he ran for the same position and won.[6] He was re-elected in 2003. He was the first governor to publicly declare his assets.[17]

In the year of 2000, during Yar'Adua's administration as governor, Katsina became the fifth northern Nigerian state to adopt sharia, or Islamic law.[18] In 2002 Amina Lawal, a woman from Katsina, was sentenced to death by stoning by a sharia court in the town of Bakori for committing adultery; the story attracted international attention. Her sentence was at first upheld by a court in the town of Funtua, then overturned a year later following an appeal.[19]

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.

Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State has attributed the achievements recorded in the state to the sagacity of former governor and late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The late Yar’Adua was governor for eight years in Katsina State from 1999 to 2007 before he was succeeded by the incumbent.

James Danjuma Reported to the National Mirror on May 30, 2013 that;

Shema said the late Yar’Adua worked very hard as governor to provide dividends of democracy for his people and after he had left, people were still talking about the good things he did.

The governor said some of the important projects the late Yar’Adua had begun before he became President were completed by his administration because they had positive bearing on the people.

Shema, who was speaking during the Democracy Day celebration event in the state, thanked stakeholders for supporting his administration in the last six years in its efforts to provide dividends of democracy for the people. Yar'Adua said with two years before the end of his administration, the policy of free education for primary and secondary school students would be maintained.[20]

Presidential nomination[edit]

On 16–17 December 2006, 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.[21] Yar'Adua's success in the primary was attributed to the support of incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo;[21][22] 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.[22] Shortly after winning the nomination, Yar'Adua chose Goodluck Jonathan, governor of Bayelsa State, as his vice-presidential candidate.[21][22]

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.[22] 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 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.[23] 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.[24]


At the 33rd G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 (Yar'Adua at the very right)
Yar'Adua with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev whilst the latter was on a state visit to Nigeria in June 2009.

In the presidential election, held on 21 April 2007, 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 favor.[25]

After the election, 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.[26] On 28 June 2007, Yar'Adua publicly revealed his declaration of assets from May (becoming the first Nigerian Leader 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.[17]

Yar'Adua's new cabinet was sworn in on 26 July 2007.[27][28] It included 39 ministers, including two for the ANPP.[28]

Buhari and Abubakar filed petitions to have the results of the 2007 presidential election invalidated due to alleged fraud, but on 26 February 2008 a court rejected the petitions. Buhari and Abubakar said that they would appeal to the Supreme Court. Marred by corruption, many argued that this election was rigged by Obasanjo as well, as he wanted his successor to have the same basic ideals that he possessed as President.[29]

Seven point agenda[edit]

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. But by 2010, the administration was struggling to realize many of stated goals.[30] 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.[30]

The agenda[edit]

  • 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
  • Security
  • Food security[30]

Electoral reforms[edit]

A few months after his inauguration, the president 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. The twenty member committee submitted its report in December 2008, by then Yar'Adua's health was failing.[31] 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.[31]

Illness and death[edit]

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 dangerous power vacuum in Nigeria.[32]

In December 2009 Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated that Yar'Adua should have handed over power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan in an acting capacity during his illness, a statement that was backed up by the NBA national executive committee.[33] 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.[34]

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.[35]

On 24 February 2010, Yar'Adua returned to Abuja under the cover of darkness.[36] His state of health was unclear, but there was speculation that he was still on a life support machine.[37] 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.[38][39][40] An Islamic burial took place on 6 May in his hometown in Katsina.[41][42]


The Federal Government of Nigeria declared a seven-day mourning period.[43] 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."[44]

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."[40]

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in his tribute, wrote, “What passes for the Nigerian nation is nothing more than a tragic arena, and Yar‘Adua is only the latest tragic figure. The vampires, including those within his own family, turned him into a mere inert resource for their diabolical schemes. They have a reckoning with their conscience, assuming they know what the word means. One can only hope that, while mouthing sanctimonious platitudes such as ‘Power belongs to God,’ they have now learned that the politics of Do-or-Die cannot guarantee who does and who dies. They must stop playing God. I pray for the repose of the soul of their latest, much abused innocent victim."[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adetayo, Olalekan; Ebhuomhan, Sebastine (15 July 2008). "Confusion reigns over Yar'Adua's birthday". The Punch (Lagos). Punch Nigeria Limited. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
  2. ^ Ayorinde, Steve (16 July 2008). "The goof about the President's birthday". The Punch (Lagos). Punch Nigeria Ltd. Retrieved 17 July 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ "Nigeria's Umaru Yar'Adua dead: president's office". The Sydney Morning Herald. 6 May 2010.
  4. ^ Reuters. "Nigerian president Umaru Yar'Adua dies after months of illness". Telegraph UK. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  5. ^ Abatan, Tunde; et al. (21 April 2007). "Presidency: A Fulani contest". Daily Independent (Lagos), via Independent Newspapers Limited, Lagos.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b Daily Trust, Yar'Adua Interview, 3rd of March 2007
  7. ^ "Celebration Galore as Yaradua is Installed Mutawallen Katsina". This Day (Lagos). 4 July 2002. Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 21 September 2007.
  8. ^ a b "Biodata". Yar' adua. 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2007.
  9. ^ Gabriel, Chioma (15 January 2010). "Turai Yar'Adua – a Silent But Influential First Lady". Vanguard Media. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Hajiya Turai: What Manner Of First Lady?". Leadership (newspaper) (Abuja), Sunday, 3 June 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
  11. ^ "Yar'Adua's Daughter's Wedding Won't Affect Guber Case". This Day (Lagos), Monday, 16 July 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
  12. ^ Danjuma, Michael (25 January 2009). "Yar'Adua concludes daughter's marriage to Bauchi Gov". This Day (Lagos), via African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc. Retrieved 12 September 2009.[dead link]
  13. ^ Michael, Ishola (30 January 2009). "Drums, drinks in Bauchi, Abuja As governor carts home president's daughter". Nigerian Tribune (Ibadan). Independent Newspapers Limited. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
  14. ^ "The president is a committed father—Ex–wife". Sunday Trust (Abuja). 22 September 2007. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2007.
  15. ^ "An encounter with the president's unreported family". Sunday Trust (Abuja). 22 September 2007. Archived from the original on 6 September 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
  16. ^ Childs, Martins. "Umaru Yar'Adua: Nigerian President who struggled to tackle the country's social and political problems". Independent UK. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  17. ^ a b Josephine Lohor (29 June 2007). "Nigeria: Yar'Adua – I'm Worth N850m". This Day (via Archived from the original on 3 July 2007. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  18. ^ "Nigeria's Katsina state adopts Sharia". BBC News. 1 August 2000. Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  19. ^ "Yar'adua and the woman who escaped stoning". The Nation (Lagos). 22 April 2007. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  20. ^ Admin. "Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is inaugurated". Sahistory. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  21. ^ a b c Tom Ashby (17 December 2006). "Reclusive Yar'Adua wins ruling party ticket". Reuters. Retrieved 18 December 2006.
  22. ^ a b c d Steve Bloomfield (17 December 2006). "Obasanjo picks 'puppet' successor in elections". The Independent (UK). Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
  23. ^ "Candidate wants to squash health rumors". Reuters. 5 January 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
  24. ^ Tom Ashby? (8 March 2007). "Is Lagos candidate too ill to rule". IOL. Reuters. Retrieved 9 March 2007.
  25. ^ "Huge win for Nigeria's Yar'Adua". BBC News. 23 April 2007.
  26. ^ "Nigerian opposition parties agree to join government". People's Daily Online. Xinhua News Agency. 29 June 2007.
  27. ^ "Nigerian president names three to Cabinet energy posts, warns against graft". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 26 July 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
  28. ^ a b "Nigerian President swears in 39 ministers". African Press Agency. 26 July 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2007.[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Court rules Nigeria poll was valid". Al Jazeera. 26 February 2008. Archived from the original on 28 February 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
  30. ^ a b c Robert, Dr & Dode, Oghenedoro. (2019). Yar'adua 7-Point Agenda, the Mdgs and Sustainable Development in Nigeria.
  31. ^ a b Agbese, Dan (9 March 2018). "The Uwais report and the high cost of indifference (1)". Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  32. ^ McConnell, Tristan (7 January 2010). "Prove you are alive: clamour for missing Nigerian leader to show his face". The Times. London.
  33. ^ Jude Igbanoi (14 December 2009). "NBA Backs Akeredolu Over Yar'Adua's Health". ThisDay. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  34. ^ "Nigeria cabinet told to rule on sick President Yar'Adua". BBC News. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  35. ^ "Nigeria's VP takes over from ailing president". Google News. Agence France-Presse. 9 February 2010. Archived from the original on 13 February 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  36. ^ siteadmin. "Yar'adua Returns To Abuja Under the Cover of Darkness". Sahara Reporters. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  37. ^ "Where is Yar'Adua? Nigerians ask". Radio France Internationale. 25 February 2010.
  38. ^ "President Yar'Adua is dead". News Agency of Nigeria. 5 May 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.[permanent dead link]
  39. ^ "Nigerian President Yar'Adua dies, reports say". BBC News. 5 May 2010.
  40. ^ a b "CNN Reports Yar'Adua's death". CNN. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  41. ^ Clayton, Jonathan (6 May 2010). "President Yar'Adua's death may spark power struggle in oil-rich Nigeria". The Times. London. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  42. ^ "Yar'Adua Buried Amidst Tears, Tributes …Jonathan Steps In As President". The Tide News.
  43. ^ News Agency of Nigeria. Archived 6 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  44. ^ "Nigeria's president Yar'Adua dies". Al Jazeera. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  45. ^ Chiawo Nwankwo; Olusola Fabiyi; Ihuoma Chiedozie; Emmanuel Addeh (6 May 2010). "Yar'Adua dies, FG declares today public holiday". Archived from the original on 6 May 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.

External links[edit]

Media related to Umaru Yar'Adua at Wikimedia Commons Quotations related to Umaru Musa Yar'Adua at Wikiquote

Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Akaagerger
Governor of Katsina
Succeeded by
Ibrahim Shema
Preceded by
Olusegun Obasanjo
President of Nigeria
Succeeded by
Goodluck Jonathan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Olusegun Obasanjo
People's Democratic Party presidential nominee
Succeeded by
Goodluck Jonathan
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Blaise Compaoré
Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States
Succeeded by
Goodluck Jonathan