The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Verdict: Who is Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua – The PDP 2007 Presidential Flag Bearer?


Dan Azumi Kofarmata, Kano

Monday, 18 December 2006

Now that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national convention has come and gone on Saturday December 16, 2006 and Sunday December 17, 2006, it beholds on all members of the PDP to thank Almighty God for what their party had achieved in the last 2 trying days. The reason for thanking God is largely because the generality of Nigerians believe in God and worship God in one way or another.

The outcome of the last weekend PDP’s national convention is the election of the party’s presidential flag bearer for the 2007 general elections. Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua (56) of Katsina State emerged as the party’s leaders’ most favoured candidate out of a crowd of about 30 presidential aspirants who lined-up to contest in the party’s presidential primaries. Not surprising therefore, Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua victoriously emerged as the winner of the presidential primaries that took place at the Eagle Square, Abuja, FCT over the weekend. Another surprise was the selection of the oil-rich Bayelsa State Governor Mr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as running mate by Governor Yar Adua. This therefore completes the story of the PDP 2006 National Convention. The rest, they say, is now history.

The process leading to the just concluded PDP national convention has been very much reported and commented upon by all forms of media and thus does not need to be repeated here for want of space and time. However, what are very interesting are the personalities that have suddenly emerged at the centre stage of Nigeria’s high wire presidential election contests both at the political party and general elections levels respectively. Of course, the personalities in question for now are the duo of Governors Umaru Musa Yar Adua and Goodluck Ebele Jonathan respectively.

Most people have been asking one question since the sudden emergence of Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua as a very serious contender for the coveted PDP 2007 Presidential Flag bearer!  That did not stop there because Yar Adua also mysteriously metamorphosed into the most favoured contender whose candidature had the full official endorsement, support and backing of the national leadership of the PDP. On Saturday, December 16, 2006, he lined-up with about 12 other contenders, whose candidatures, even though officially endorsed by the party but did not have the official backing and support of the PDP national leadership. That was the reason why some of the contestants heeded the call to withdraw from the race at the last hours. 

What surprises people the more about Governor Umar Musa Yar Adua’s candidature however, is that, his political background prior to his emergence as the hottest contender for the PDP coveted presidential flag bearer for the 2007 general elections is not very much known beyond his home State of Katsina, where held fort as a 2-term Executive Governor (1999 – 2003 and 2003 to date). This write up is an attempt to find out for the interest of the general public more about the personality of Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua in the absence of any official documentation from his publicists.

While the public awaits more information about the personal background, history and political pedigree of the Man Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua, my search has been able to produce the following information thus far, about him.

Governor Umar Musa Yar Adua – The Man:

A one time Chemistry lecturer at the School of Basic Studies (SBS), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria and later, in the polytechnic, Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua is said to be about 56 years of age and comes from the influential Hausa – Fulani aristocratic ruling class of Katsina. He belongs to the Mutawalle house of the elite ruling class; who are the custodian of the Treasurer of the Katsina emirate. His father, the late highly regarded Mallam Musa Yar Adua (Muttawalen Katsina, before he died), was also a very influential member of the Northern Nigerian elite political class; educated and trained by the British colonial administration before the time of the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of the then British Empire that later, became known as Nigeria in 1914.

With the attainment of Independence in 1960, the Late Mallam Musa Yar Adua was among the top notched Northern politicians that participated in the formation and running of the first Republic of Nigeria. For example, late Mallam Musa Yar Adua served as the first (and the only) Minister for Lagos Affairs in the late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa-led post independent Government and Administration of Nigeria (1960 – 1967). Late Musa Yar Adua also featured very prominently in the politics of the Second Republic of Nigeria before its demise with the 1983 military coup.

Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua happens also to be the immediate younger brother of late General Shehu Musa Yar Adua, the then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters during the dynamic Murtala – Obasanjo military regime (1976 – 1979). Under that administrative set-up, the late elder brother and army general served as President Obasanjo's deputy. Both President Obasanjo and late Shehu Musa Yar Adua were convicted and sent to life jail together for alleged knowledge of a coup plan to topple the military regime of General Sani Abacha (1993 – 1998). The late General Shehu Musa Yar Adua - the man whose political sagacity and astuteness is very well known, acknowledged and respected in the contemporary politics of modern Nigeria. Late Gen Shehu Musa Yar Adua is known to have established the now formidable and legendary national political machinery and structure that cut across regional, religious and ethnic boundaries/barriers in Nigeria – the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM); the political structure/machinery that was used to launch President Obasanjo into Nigeria’s national politics in 1999.

Political and Ideological leanings:

Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua even though coming from what in the Nigerian political scene and ideological categorisation can be said to belong to the ultra-right northern Nigerian conservative political leanings, he is one that has personally claimed that he consider himself belonging to the moderate radical political left; ideologically speaking. His political pedigree has always been aligned with what in the Nigerian political arena is labelled ‘progressives’ political club of radical politicians and the academia. For example, on the one hand, he joined the radical left leaning Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) under the leadership of late Mallam Aminu Kano in the Second Republic. While on the other hand, his own very father and most of the rest of his family members were prominent members of the conservative National Party of Nigeria (NPN) – the then ruling Political Party in Nigeria at the Federal level and several States of the federation.


After another military interregnum (1983 – 1993), with the return of democratic and partisan political activities in 1992, Umaru Musa Yar Adua joined and teamed up with the left of the Centre Social Democratic Party (SDP). This further show the consistency in his personal independent political believes whereby, he chooses to break ranks with family tradition. More often than not, some people see him as a renegade or rebel of a sort considering his familial political pedigree. His association with the likes of Mallam Aminu Kano, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and radical left learning academics such as late Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman and late Dr Moddibo Tukur of History Department, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, clearly defines and underscores his past and present political and ideological leanings. He is a man who is very conscious of the sufferings of the downtrodden masses of Nigeria and is totally devoted and committed to providing dynamic and responsible leadership in the quest for redeeming and alleviating the absolute poverty and sufferings of the Nigerian masses.


Inspiring Role Model:

Governor Umaru Yar'Adua is one of the few governors not currently under investigation for corruption and treasury looting by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria. This is not surprising when one considers that he comes from the family that are the custodian of the treasury of the Katsina Emirate. This, perhaps, inculcates in him the lessons of accountability, transparency and prudence management of scarce public resources that belong to the common wealth. By and large, it is his prudent management of his state's finances that is believed to have been important in winning President Obasanjo’s total support for his candidature. The BBC news describes 'Yar Adua as tacitrum, down-to-earth and not to be underestimated. "A man of few airs and graces, he is known to have ignored the advice of aides and bodyguards to walk alone to tobacco kiosks to buy a single cigarette." (Profile: Umaru Yar'Adua BBC)

In a country where governors are known rather for their profligacy and outright looting of the public treasury, Governor  Umaru in an unusual show of transparency did not only declare his assets when he became governor in 1999 but out of his own volition made it public in the finest spirit of transparency. He is the only serving State Governor that has not constructed and or purchased mansions in Nigeria and or abroad since elected into office to date.

Governor Umaru Yar Adua is indeed a very quiet and shy man; even though described by his critics as taciturn and not known for his tolerance of opposition. The truth is that, Governor Umaru Yar'Adua is generally known to be humble and unassuming in the conduct of his private and or public affairs even though born with sliver spoon in his mouth. But the fact that he is very quiet and shy doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the gut fire that is needed to steer the political and developmental leadership needed by Nigeria and in deed, Nigerians and the international community at large.

Governor Umaru has impeccable credentials as a largely transparent, honest and humble person. It is perhaps these qualities that may endear him to the Nigerian electorate to elect him as the next President of Nigeria in 2007. These are the desirable credentials that our leaders must have to lead Nigeria – perhaps, the continent’s most difficult and trying country to rule in this 21st Century.

Leadership Vision:

For a man who was born in a very difficult geographical terrain and has witnessed over the years first hand, the debilitating effect of poverty on people, he is guided by the vision and belief that, governance is useless if the well-being of the ordinary rural and urban people is not positively impacted upon. It is this abiding conviction that has continued to shape his style of governance in Katsina in the last seven and half year or so. He will draw from those lessons and experiences if given the peoples mandate to be the next President of Nigeria.

Furthermore, Governor Yar'Adua believes that the development of Nigeria is only possible when there is concerted diversification of the economy so that there would not be an over-dependence on a single source of revenue such as oil. It is also the same principle that seems to inform him that, for a fair and just society to prevail in Nigeria, its leadership must be all inclusive and exhibits no marginalisation of ethnic and or religious minorities in the polity. His picking of Governor Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as his running mate is a very good example of his belief in politics of inclusiveness and respect for ethnic and religious minorities in the holistic political and socio-spatial development processes in Nigeria. He is committed to the accelerated environmentally sound development of the Niger Delta region far beyond the mere political rhetoric that has been the case since time immemorial! That may also explain the reason why he picked his running mate from the area.

Nigerians, and indeed, the international community are eager to know more about Governor Umaru Musa Yar Adua. I hope his official publicists will do that soonest.

Meanwhile, accept my sincere congratulations and good luck in the great battle ahead.


Dan Azumi Kofarmata, Kano

Monday, 18 December 2006