|Biographical detail : || Businessman, Soldier, Politician
…It is the sacrifice that some of us must make for our country to be free – Shehu Musa Yar’adua, Kirikiri Prison, March 1995
Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, born in Katsina, was turbaned, in 1987, as Tafidan Katsina, a traditional title he inherited from his father. He championed the creation of The Islam in Africa Organisation - a pan African Islamic organisation. As Chairman of the National Mosque Committee, he oversaw the funding, a multi-million naira project and the construction of the National Mosque, an imposing structure which graces the skyline of Abuja, the new federal capital of Nigeria.
As a soldier, he was a brave, loyal, intelligent and quietly efficient officer with a fine analytical mind. He ascended through the ranks on merit and was respected and loved by those around him. When he returned from Sandhurst in 1964, the Nigerian Civil War (Biafra) broke out and Major Yar’Adua’s capture of Onitsha in 1967 was regarded as the decisive battle, which ended the bloody conflict that consumed more than a million lives. In the 70s, as second in command during the Obasanjo military regime, he played a key role in the successful and voluntary transfer of power to a democratically elected government.
After retirement, General Yar’Adua joined the business world and established a publishing company, cultivated agricultural holdings, developed manufacturing, oil services and shipping facilities and perhaps most importantly, incorporated Habib Nigeria Bank.
Shehu’s commitment to national unity, good governance and to building a just and democratic society for all Nigerians made him join politics. He was elected as his party’s presidential candidate for the 1992 elections and having won at the primary stage, it was eventually annulled by President Babangida. In 1995, he was sentenced to death by a Military tribunal for alleged involvements in a coup detat. The death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. His death in Abakaliki Prison shocked all Nigerians due to the fact that he was serving a sentence for an alleged coup attempt that many believed never really happened. .
General Shehu’s legacy, the democracy he left behind in Nigeria, speaks for his courage and leadership. He was a man with plenty of grit and ability. His humility and benevolence endeared him to the masses as evident from unprecedented crowd that overflowed the Katsina stadium for his funeral prayer. In all, He had lived a life committed to serving his people. He once said “Public service is service to God. You serve God by serving His creatures”.