Umaru Musa Yar'Adua (16 August 1951 – 5 May 2010) was the 13th president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He was governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007. He was declared the winner of the controversial Nigerian presidential election held on 21 April 2007, and was sworn in on 29 May 2007. He was a member of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). In 2009, Yar'Adua left for Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for pericarditis. He returned to Nigeria on 24 February 2010, where he was pronounced dead on the 5th of May.
Yar'Adua was born into an aristocratic Fulani family in Katsina; his father, a former Minister for Lagos during the First republic, held the chieftaincy title of Matawalle (or custodian of the royal treasury) of the Katsina Emirate, a title which Yar'Adua inherited. He started his education at Rafukka Primary School in 1958, and moved to Dutsinma Boarding Primary School in 1962. He attended the Government College at Keffi from 1965 until 1969. In 1971 he received a Higher School Certificate from Barewa College. He attended Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria from 1972 to 1975, where he obtained a B.Sc. degree in Education and Chemistry, and then returned in 1978 to pursue an M.Sc. degree in Analytical Chemistry.
Yar'Adua's first employment was at Holy Child College in Lagos (1975–76). He later served as a lecturer at the College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Zaria, Kaduna State, between 1976 and 1979. In 1979, he began working as a lecturer at College of Art Science, remaining in this position until 1983, when he began working in the corporate sector.
Yar'Adua worked at Sambo Farms Ltd in Funtua, Katsina State, as its pioneer General Manager between 1983 and 1989. He served as a Board Member of Katsina State Farmers' Supply Company between 1984 and 1985, Member of the Governing Council of Katsina College of Arts, Science and Technology Zaria and Katsina Polytechnic between 1978 and 1983, Board Chairman of Katsina State Investment and Property Development Company (KIPDECO) between 1994 and 1996. He served as a director of many companies, including Habib Nigeria Bank Ltd, 1995–99; Lodigiani Nigeria Ltd, 1987–99, Hamada Holdings, 1983–99; and Madara Ltd, Vom, Jos, 1987–99. He was Chairman of Nation House Press Ltd, Kaduna, from 1995 to 1999.
During the Second Republic (1979–83), Yar'Adua was a member of the leftist People's Redemption Party, while his father was briefly the National Vice chairman of the National Party of Nigeria. During the Transition Programme of President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Yar'Adua was one of the foundation members of the Peoples Front, a political association under the leadership of his elder brother, the late Major-General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua. That association later fused to form the Social Democratic Party. Yar'Adua was a member of the 1988 Constituent Assembly. He was a member of the party's National Caucus and the SDP State Secretary in Katsina and contested the 1991 Governorship election, but lost to Saidu Barda, the candidate of the National Republican Convention and an ally of Babangida. In 1999, he ran for the same position and won. He was re-elected in 2003. He was the first governor to publicly declare his assets.
In the year of 2000, during his administration as governor, Katsina became the fifth northern Nigerian state to adopt sharia, or Islamic law. In 2002 Amina Lawal, a woman from Katsina, was sentenced to death by stoning by a sharia court in the town of Bakori for committing adultery; the story attracted international attention. Her sentence was at first upheld by a court in the town of Funtua, then overturned a year later following an appeal
n the presidential election, held on 21 April 2007, Yar'Adua won with 70% of the vote (24.6 million votes) according to official results released on 23 April. The election was highly controversial. Strongly criticized by observers, as well as the two primary opposition candidates, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress (AC), its results were largely rejected as having been rigged in Yar'Adua's favor.
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. On 28 June 2007, Yar'Adua publicly revealed his declaration of assets from May (becoming the first Nigerian Leader to do so), according to which he had ₦856,452,892 (US$5.8 million) in assets, ₦19 million ($0.1 million) of which belonged to his wife. He also had ₦88,793,269.77 ($0.5 million) in liabilities. This disclosure, which fulfilled a pre-election promise he made, was intended to set an example for other Nigerian politicians and discourage corruption.
President Yar'Adua left Nigeria on 23 November 2009, and was reported to be receiving treatment for pericarditis at a clinic in Saudi Arabia. He was not seen in public again, and his absence created a dangerous power vacuum in Nigeria.
In December 2009 Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), stated that Yar'Adua should have handed over power to Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan in an acting capacity during his illness, a statement that was backed up by the NBA national executive committee. On 22 January 2010, the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had fourteen days to decide a resolution on whether Yar'Adua was "incapable of discharging the functions of his office". The ruling also stated that the Federal Executive Council should hear testimony of five doctors, one of whom should be Yar'Adua's personal physician.
On 10 February 2010, the Senate controversially used the "doctrine of necessity" to transfer Presidential Powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, and declared him Acting President, with all the accompanying powers, until Yar'Adua returned to full health. The power transfer, considered illegal by some, has been called a "coup without the word" by opposition lawyers and lawmakers. However, there are others that felt the power vacuum would lead to instability and a possible military takeover.
On 24 February 2010, Yar'Adua returned to Abuja under the cover of darkness. His state of health was unclear, but there was speculation that he was still on a life support machine. Various political and religious figures in Nigeria had visited him during his illness saying he would make a recovery.