Nigeria president dies after long illness

2010-05-06 07:43

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua, long plagued by poor health, has

died at age 58, almost three months after his vice president assumed control of

Africa’s most populous nation, presidential spokesperson Olusegun Adeniyi

said.


Yar’Adua died at 9p.m yesterday at the Aso Rock presidential villa

with his wife Turai at his side, Adeniyi said, his voice cracking with emotion.

He did not give a cause of death.


A Muslim, Yar’Adua will be buried before sundown this afternoon in

his home state of Katsina, said Ima Niboro, a spokesperson for Acting President

Goodluck Jonathan.

Niboro said today would also be a national holiday and the

country would observe seven days of mourning for Yar’Adua.


Nigeria’s national security adviser and other ministers flooded

into the presidential villa late last night to meet with Jonathan, who offered

condolences to Yar’Adua’s wife before beginning work as the country’s head of

state, Niboro said.


“The acting president is very sad with what has happened,” Niboro

told reporters. “The nation is mourning.”


NTA, the state broadcaster, broke into its broadcast just before

11.30pm local time to announce Yar’Adua’s death.

Private television stations ran

scrolling announcements about the death while the country remained calm and

quiet.


Yar’Adua took office in 2007 in a country notorious for corruption

and gained accolades for being the first leader to publicly declare his personal

assets when taking office – setting up a benchmark for comparison later to see

if he misappropriated funds.

But enthusiasm for his presidency waned as time

passed and he made no headway in fighting entrenched corruption.

 

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