|Biographical detail : ||Nigeria’s reformist president
The son of an aristocratic political dynasty of north of Nigeria Yar’Adua embraced left-wing politics in his 20s. Circumstances as much as personal ambition saw him rise to governor, in 1999, of his native Katsina state. He was elected president in April 2007 few would have seen him as a possible candidate.
As president, Yar’Adua was his own man and that his policies of reform and anti-corruption and emphasis on the importance of law were his own, and more importantly, pursued by his followers.
He also began a process of reforming the messy megalith of the state oil company, made promises on improving Nigeria’s notoriously inadequate electricity supply, and after alternating between force and appeasement, achieved a provisionally successful amnesty with rebels in the Niger delta.
Yar’Adua was steadfast in his backing the central bank governor, as he waged a campaign to clean up Nigeria’s banks, even when he went after members of the president’s family.
Most political insiders describe Yar’Adua as a man of goodwill, humility and integrity and termed a ‘gentleman’. His plans for reform were hindered by his worsening health.
Born in Katsina, Yar’Adua studied at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaira, from 1972 to 1975. He obtained a BSc in chemistry, which he converted to a master’s in 1978. He pursued a career as a lecturer until 1983, when he took up farming full-time.
Yar’Adua’s return to Abuja, after three months in a Saudi Arabian hospital, ended in his demise.