In my opinion, the best President Nigeria has ever had is no other than the late Shehu Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
According to a research by Africanews.com, the one-time Katsina State governor is revered as by far the best leader of Africa’s most populous nation since the return to multi-party democracy in 1999.
After the controversial elections of 2007, Yar’Adua was declared the winner and assumed the Presidential office of Nigeria. Former President Obasanjo endorsed his candidacy, as his record showed no signs of corruption and/or ethnic favoritism.
While in office, Yar’Adua fell ill and was unable to uphold his Presidential duties. This led to him being absent from public life and a dangerous situation was arising in Nigeria. His powers were transferred to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over as an acting President during this time.
Yar’Adua’s legacy while in office was one of democracy, fairness, peace, and prosperity for Nigerians.
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.
When asked about the unity government initiative, he said his desire to form a National Unity Government was borne out of the need for politicians to form a common ground for solving national problems, this is in the best interest of the Nigerians.
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He 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, which seems to have held even during the period of illness and political wrangling.
On 28 June 2007, Yar’Adua publicly revealed his declaration of assets from May (becoming the first Nigerian Leader to do so), this disclosure, which fulfilled a pre-election promise he made, was intended to set an example for other Nigerian politicians and discourage corruption.
This declaration, which makes corruption more difficult to conceal and is therefore obligatory for public office holders in many nations of the world, was a novelty in Nigeria when Yar’adua first took office.
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.
The seven point agenda include; Power and Energy, Infrastructure, Food Security, Wealth Creation, Transport Sector, Land Reforms and Security.
Though he died while still in power, he still managed to acheive some notables things during his short stay as president.
The former Katsina State Governor initiated the Niger-Delta Amnesty Programme which saw hundreds of youth, particularly those that took arms against the state going abroad for studies and professional training. Yar’Adua initiated the Abuja-Kaduna rail route which was commissioned by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2016.
He recommended the dredging of River Niger after 40 years. Reversed some of ex-president Obasanjo’s decisions considered to be against the national interest such as the sale of three refineries. He released the N10 billion Lagos State local government councils’ funds withheld by Obasanjo.
Under his watch, the courts regained their freedom, they handed down verdicts that cancelled political victories even though his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was the victim. The late President completed 13 of major highway works he inherited from his predecessor. And like i mentioned earlier, he was Nigeria’s first ever president to declare his assets.
Like the popular saying ‘You don’t know the worth of what you have until you loose it’, Nigerians appreciated more the efforts of Late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua after his death. Even the US President at the time of his demise, 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.”
Yar’Adua was described by many as a selfless statesman, an honest man, a true democrat, a respecter of the rule of law and a humble visionary.
Truly the Late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was committed to creating lasting peace and prosperity within Nigeria hence the reason I support the notion of him being the best president Nigeria has ever had.