Remembering Yar’Adua: Is He Nigeria’s Best President?

Alh. Umar Musa Yaradua died 10 years ago today, 5th May 2010. He was the 13th president of Nigeria and the first democratically elected president to die in office. Yar’adua was the 3rd democratically elected president from April 2007 to May 2010. Some persons argue he is the best president Nigeria has ever had, this is subject to tactical fact comparisons which this article seeks to clarify.

Umar Musa Yaradua was a 36-months president; In this article, we will compare his 36 months achievements to the achievements of other presidents in their complete tenure, under the three priority struggles of the country- Terrorism, Corruption, and Infrastructure especially the transportation sector. 




Obasanjo: The Niger Delta militants regularly kidnapped oil workers of every nationality, usually releasing them after a time, but some would have been killed. President Obasanjo tried a military approach to the problem, but the Nigerian army not only was incapable of beating the militia on their home turf of rivers and creeks but committed so many human rights violations that their presence provoked outrage from the local population. This showed that the OBJ led administration failed at tackling the insecurity facing it the right way and manner.

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Yaradua: Yar’adua brought to end the militancy in the Niger Delta region when he invited the militants to Aso Rock and urged them to lay down their arms. He also kick-started the amnesty programme which re-absorbed the militants into the society and rehabilitated them ending the years of crisis in the region.

GoodluckAt the top of the list is the fight against Boko Haram, whose eleven-year reign of terror has cost over 15,000 lives in north-eastern Nigeria and neighboring countries. The President was unable to stop the Boko haram infiltration; he failed at every turn he tried. Bokoharam became a tool for election campaigns that helped de-popularised him prior to the 2015 general elections.

Buhari- The man of the moment has even been more of a disappointment than his predecessors in the fight against terrorism, as a former head of state under the military regime and has fought opposition time and time again, it was expected he will have a clear cut approach to defeat Bokoharam, however, tenure and more later, he is clueless and his fight against Boko haram looks unending.


Obasanjo: The reduction in foreign debt and other things OBJ is remembered for is his campaign of privatizations and establishment of an anti-corruption agency, the EFCC. OBJ’s regime is reviewed in cognizance of its real features and its future results, as well as the economic and political dynamics of the time. He faired well during his times, even though some crime-watch dogs felt he politicized the EFCC and used them as a tool to fight his political enemies. 

Yaradua: Yar’adua reversed the fraudulent sale of Nigeria’s assets by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, which sold the assets to ‘cronies’ of Obasanjo at give-away prices. The late Nigerian leader discarded political loyalty for the sake of the nation and reversed the sales which could have mortgaged Nigeria’s future into the hands of a few.

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Yar’adua pioneered the policy of returning unspent funds to the national treasury at the end of the fiscal year. He is also the first president in the history of Nigeria to declare his assets before assuming office. These policies and actions endeared him to the majority of Nigerians.

Goodluck: He believed that putting technology in place will fight corruption, he, therefore, instituted Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) as examples of his administration’s technological tools designed to fight corruption. His fight against corruption brought positive results as the country made its best improvement ever in Transparency International (IT) corruption perception index.

M.Buhari– The current president is notable for his proposed fight against corruption; it was one of the major reasons why the people gave him their mandate to tackle the corrupt cases facing the country, where public servants and their political accomplices embezzled funds. It is pertinent to note that the country is yet to witness giant strides in its corruption decline index. The EFCC has made it their point of target to focus on online fraudulent activities perpetrated by youths known as Yahoo. This has further dampened the public image of Nigerians outside Nigeria as the world sees the country as full of fraudulent people in commemoration with corrupt leaders, this, as a result, of the massive publicity their arrests gain. Corrupt officials are being imprisoned by the EFCC sighting Fmr. Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu as a case study.



Obasanjo: In October 2006, Obasanjo inaugurated the project to revitalize Nigeria’s 3500km railway network. This railway project was dubbed the Lagos-Kano standard gauge modernization project.

Yar’Adua: 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.

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Goodluck: Shortly after winning the 2011 presidential election, President Goodluck Jonathan initiated the high-speed Lagos-Kano rail project. The Lagos-Kano rail project is the first phase of the Lagos-Kano rail line  which will connect Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Warri, Bauchi, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. The project – which was designed to be executed in 6 phases – was projected to cost the country $13 billion, much of which will be financed with a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China. The entire project was expected to last for about 25 years. Between February and October 2010, a total of 25 new locomotives were purchased by the Federal Government from the General Electric Transportation South America and deployed to boost train services across the country’s railway routes. (Credit Auto Josh 2019)

  1. BuhariPresident Mohammadu Buhari commissioned the 187 km standard gauge line between Kaduna and Abuja, stemming from the Yar’adua’s government, all a masterpiece of the Obasanjo’s projected plan. However, the M.Buhari government renegotiated the contract; it is now co-funded by CCECC and the Nigerian government.

The 3 priority sectors discussed above will highlight if Yar’Adua did better than the other president within his short time in office. The facts are laid bare, leaving the reader to be the judge and the jury.