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Date Published: 05/09/10

President Yar'Adua was the greatest By Joe Igbokwe

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Please tell it to the East, West, North and South that the late President Umaru Musa Yar-Adua was the most honest, sincere, humble, successful and the greatest of all the former Nigeria’s Heads of State since Independence. Forget about the number of years each and everyone of the them spent in office as president because I have come to realize that it is not the number of years you spent in office that matters but the achievements recorded, the indelible marks in the sands of time and the legacies left behind. President Yar’Adua came, saw, and conquered. Our past presidents led us to civil wars and ethnic wars that robbed this country almost two million people. A past leader, IBB who ruled this country for almost nine years annulled a free and fair election on June 23, 1993 and initiated chains of tragic events that are still ravaging the country till date. Others led us to planning and execution, coups and counter coups due inept, primordial, ethnic, rudderless and selfish politics that left the country far behind in the comity of serious nations. Former President Obasanjo led the nation into stealing of votes and rigging criminals into exalted offices meant for decent and creative minds in 2003 and 2007. Obasanjo as military Head of State in 1979 conducted a presidential election that produced Alhaji Shehu Shagari as president and till date that election is still controversial.

These political misfits in the name of former Heads of state, came, saw and did nothing. Instead they dragged the country backward and looted the nation silly. Today they parade themselves as former Heads of state whereas in reality they presided over the rape and pillaging of a promising endowed nation blessed with both human and material resources second to none in Africa.

But the late President was clearly different from the criminal lot. He saw civil war coming from Niger-Delta (the goose that lay the golden egg) and he creatively and cleverly averted it through honest disposition of tact, sincerity, creativity and constructive engagements. Former President Olusegun in his crude politics, arrogancy and wickedness never thought of granting amnesty to the militants. He was prepared for war but the luxury of time eluded him. But the late President Yar’Adua, as the first university graduate to rule Nigeria since Independence decided to seek  the path of dialogue with murderers, oil thieves, rapists, kidnappers and economic saboteurs. And I saw the genuineness in his approach. He invited the leaders of the militants to Aso Rock and spoke to them like a father will speak to his children. I saw the sincerity and honesty in his eyes as he engaged them in Aso Rock. He deployed time, energy, money to the cause.

Of course, President Yar’Adua made the greatest input to peace in the Niger Delta and the output is what we see there today. It was a political masterstroke, it was an act of courage, it was political sophistry and maturity at display. It was an act of a leader who believed in the power of initiative, preparations, responsibility, teamwork, character, teachability, passion, focus, and relationships. If Generals Gowon and Ojukwu had displayed a fraction of Yar’Adua’s outstanding qualities stated above, perhaps the 1967-1970 civil wars would have been averted. If Obasanjo’s Third term criminal plot had succeeded Andy Ubah, Agagu and Osunbor would have still remained the governors of Anambra, Ondo and Edo states today. Yar’Adua made no pretences on his belief in rule of law and due process. In actions and deeds we saw it at work and it was unprecedented. This Chemistry teacher saw the flaws in the elections that brought him to power in 2007 and promised to make amends. But health failed him. Now, not minding the diabolical attitudes of those who capitalized on the late president’s health crises to help themselves with the national till, not minding the dangerous, deceitful and wicked disposition of a cabal who thought they were fighting for Yar’Adua and for themselves and in the process deceived the 150 million Nigerians, and even denied the president the much needed attention, and not minding the mistakes of the late President’s wife Mrs. Turai Yar’Adua which is understandable because she wanted her husband to live, President Yar’Adua lived an eventful life . He made the greatest impact in the shortest possible time and did what his predecessors could not do. It is on this premise that I declare him the greatest of all the past presidents of Nigeria whether civilian or military, living or dead.

Joe Igbokwe

Lagos

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