Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua passed away at his presidential villa following a long illness.He was 58.
Abuja: Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s third elected civilian president was known for his honesty but in the end lacked the strength to tackle the corruption in this oil-rich country.
A “servant leader” as the Muslim northerner called himself, his reputation was for financial prudence and accountability, a rare quality among Nigerian politicians.
“This is a moment of sober reflection for virtually all Nigerians because losing a very important personality like the nation’s number one is a great loss, not only to his family, not only to people within his political formation, but it is a great loss to Nigeria as a whole. It’s a tragedy that has struck the nation with shock and some disbelief. But, as Muslims and Christians, we all know that every living soul shall one day taste death,”Political Science Professor Kabiru Mato of the University of Abuja said.
United States President Barack Obama expressed sadness at the death of Yar’Adua, praising him as a man with a passionate belief in his nation’s future, in a statement issued Wednesday.
“We remember and honour president Yar’Adua’s profound personal decency and integrity, his deep commitment to public service, and his passionate belief in the vast potential and bright future of Nigeria’s 150 million people,” he said.
“He was committed to creating lasting peace and prosperity within Nigeria’s own borders, and continuing that work will be an important part of honouring his legacy.
In neighbouring Benin, President Boni Yayi paid his own tribute.
“With the loss of this great statesman… Benin, my country, loses a great friend and I am very upset,” he told AFP.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s new leader Goodluck Jonathan sworn to office hours after the death of the country’s elected leader.He vowed on Thursday electoral reform and fighting graft would be top priorities as he steers the nation to its most fiercely contested polls since the end of military rule.
Jonathan was sworn in as head of state in Africa’s most populous country 9am local time at the presidential villa.
In his acceptance speech after taking oath, Jonathan said his coming to power came under “very sad and unusual circumstances”, describing Yar’Adua as a “man of great personal integrity… and outstanding humility”.
The new president pledged his “total commitment to good governance, electoral reforms and the fight against corruption”.
“One of the true tests would be to ensure that all votes count and are counted in the upcoming general elections,” he said. Jonathan has said little about his own political plans.
Jonathan will have to complete his predecessor’s term, which expires in April 2011, and nominate a vice president who is to be approved by the two houses of parliament.
Yar’Adua is to be buried in his northern Katsina State on Thursday.