SOME virtues and outstanding legacies left behind by the late President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, which were consumed by the circumstances surrounding his ill-health and subsequent death came to the fore yesterday as eminent Nigerians eulogised him.
They lauded Yar’Adua’s leadership style, describing him as a man with large heart and one of the finest leaders Nigeria ever had.
This was at the public presentation of the book “Power, Politics and Death: A front row account of Nigeria under President Yar’Adua,” written by his Special Adviser on Communications, Olusegun Adeniyi.
In attendance were the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his Ekiti State counterpart, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, former Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Sam Egwu, Secretary to the Government of the Federation under Yar’Adua’s administration and former Minister of Defence, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, former Minister of Works, Alhaji Hassan Lawal and former Minister of Interior, Godwin Abbe, among others.
Oshiomhole, while presenting the book, said Yar’Adua was a great man but his ill-health deprived Nigerians of his good and purposeful leadership.
The governor further described the late Yar’Adua as one of the few statesmen that had the opportunity to be the president of this country, noting that “some are president but not statesmen, rather, election riggers who see power as a do-or die-affair and believe that their party will be in power for the next 50 years.”
He said Yar’Adua was the only Nigerian president who passed through the electoral process and had the courage to tell Nigerians that the process that brought him into power could have been better, and went ahead to reform the electoral system by setting up the Mohammed Uwais panel, which came out with far reaching recommendations on how to reform the nation’s electoral system.
The Edo governor revealed that the late president, as a demonstration of his statesmanship and non-partisanship, gave him both moral and financial support to enable him prosecute his case at the court and recovered his mandate.
Oshiomhole said: “Yar’Adua told me that he knew me very well and that my case was beyond partisan politics, that I were an independent candidate, he would have supported me. One of those days when I went to the Villa, the godfathers blocked me, but Yar’Adua called me and told me not to worry that I was already a governor and didn’t need to fill any form to see him, because it is the duty of all the governors to help him move the country forward.”
Oshiomhole, however, contended that Nigerians have the right to know what happens behind the scene, particularly when the president health became a subject of controversy on whether he was alive or not, whether he transmitted power to his vice or not.
Describing the Nigerian political class as opportunists who raise personal interest above national interest, Oshiomole argued that even when it was clear that Goodluck Jonathan needed to be asked to act as the president due to the failing health of Yar’Adua, some forces complicated the matter and kicked against the doctrine of necessity.
Fayemi described the late president as an outstanding leader who served the country with courage.
He observed that Yar’Adua’s ill-health was never a problem of most Nigerians but the management of information during his illness.
Fayemi described the book as an excellent and definitive account and commended the author for speaking out.
In his remarks, Yayale Ahmed while recounting what transpired during the late president’s illness, said “it was the most trying period of my life and career as a public servant. I fought so many battles, I faced so many challenges and did all my best to move the country forward.”
He described Yar’Adua as a courageous and sincere leader whom he loved, respected and totally believed in.
The book reviewer, Mallam Mohammed Haruna, said Adeniyi’s thriller in the Aso Villa captured what happened when the late President assumed office on May 29, 2007 to May 5th, 2010 when he died amidst controversy surrounding his ill-health.
Ahmed described the book as a thrilling and authoritative account of what transpired in the Aso Villa during the late President Yar’Adua’s stay in office.
In his remarks, Adeniyi said he left the Aso Villa at a very low moment of his life, as people were attributing to him what he did not say.