Nigerian President Yar’Adua Succumbs to Illness; Nigeria officially in Seven Days of Mourning

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

With the passing of key leaders here in the United States -- Benjamin Hooks, Dorothy Height, Lena Horne, Evelyn Cunningham and others, we have yet another leader, whose star was just rising on the horizon, who has made his transition.

It is with great sadness that I announce that Nigeria’s President, Umaru Yar’Adua, who had been battling kidney and heart problems for months, made his transition on May 5, quietly at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, with his wife, Turai, and loved ones surrounding him. He was 58 years old.

Elected in 2007, Yar’Adua stood for reforms and progress, and had begun moving the country forward, with reconciliation of many dissident groups, and stemming the tide of corruption as his main focus.

According to many reports, he was a quiet, well thought out, soft spoken man, who loved his people and his country. According to sources, his election was the first peaceful transition from one civilian president to another, and the beginning of peaceful progress.

President Barack Obama expressed his condolences to the family and called President Yar'Adua a man of "profound personal decency and integrity. President Yar'Adua worked to promote peace and stability in Africa through his support of Nigerian peacekeeping efforts as well as his strong criticism of undemocratic actions in the region"

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, who assumed the responsibilities of President during his illness stated, “Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown, and even the heavens mourn with our nation tonight.” He has declared Thursday, May 13, a national holiday. President Yar’Adua will be buried before sundown Thursday, in accordance with his Muslim faith.

According to Nigerian law, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan becomes the president, and will carry out the many programs initiated by President Yar’Adua before falling ill. He had actually been serving as interim president, and had already begun the difficult task of reconstituting the cabinet to move forward with the many issues the country faces.

A member of Nigeria’s ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Jonathan took the oath of office Thursday, May 6 at the presidential villa in the capital of Abuja. He pledges to fight corruption and pursue a lasting peace in the troubled, oil-rich Niger Delta. “Our total commitment to good governance, electoral reform and the fight against corruption would be pursued with greater vigor,” said Jonathan. “Similarly, the effort at ensuring the sustenance of peace and development in the Niger Delta as well as the security of life and property around the entire country would be of top most priority in the remaining period of this administration.”

Under Nigeria's constitution, he will remain president until the next elections scheduled to be held by April 2011 - less than a year away. He also will nominate a vice president, subject to Senate approval.

Our condolences are extended the Yar’Adua family and to all of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria, along with the hopes for a peaceful, powerful, progressive, prosperous future under President Jonathan.

May we all pull together to make it so.

Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

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