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What’s the verdict on Nigeria’s Yar’Adua?

May 28, 2008

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua took office a year ago promising to pursue free-market reforms launched by his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, vowing zero tolerance for corruption and listing seven national priorities including improving power supply and reducing food insecurity.

A year on, his critics say economic reforms are grinding to a halt, his anti-corruption efforts are just window-dressing and his cabinet is largely a collection of ineffective bureaucrats who are but a shadow of an all-star cast in the former administration.

His supporters say his efforts to entrench the rule of law are a vital opportunity for Nigeria to make a break after decades of corruption and cronyism, and that while progress may be slow, he is laying the underpinnings for much stronger institutions in the country.

Does Yar’Adua have the political muscle he needs to lead Africa’s most populous nation? Is his oft-repeated mantra of the rule of law a step change in Nigeria? Or has the country lost the momentum it built up under Obasanjo? What do you think?


It is possible for Umaru to be both strongly committed to the rule of law and the quick execution of government policy. 12 Months in and there is no economic blueprint. NEEDS II is 13 months behind schedule and presumably dead. Vision 2020 is still on the drawing board. EFCC needs an overhaul and the ICPC seems idle. Nigerians pay more for energy than any OPEC country and thats not changing any time soon. Yar’adua “won” 60 plus percent of the vote. He deserves every scrutiny and impatience the electorate can visit on him till he gets the job done. so far so slow.

Posted by K Achi | Report as abusive

While the rule of law will be a solid base on which to institute reform, there are so many simple things Yar’adua can do immediately to make a difference to the lives of ordinary people. Tap solar power for example to reduce electricity outages. The technology is available and Nigeria is sunny all year round. Rehabilitate urban and intercity roads. The money is available and this will create lots of jobs immediately. Build simple Chinese-type oil refineries to churn out petrol and diesel to supply not only Nigeria but also neighbouring countries. The change will be immediate.


Our dear country has been condemned to another reign of an “unwilling and unable” presidency. Yaradua merely continues a long tradition stemming from the culture of godfatherism in Nigerian politics.

Tafawa Balewa was unwilling but his godfather (the great Ahmadu Bello) installed him. Ironsi unwilling and unable – trappings of power fell on his lap following a coup that he knew little about. Gowon was unable but was backed by the Brits. Murtala (RIP) did not last enough to be assessed. Obasanjo (1st time around) was unwilling – he was hiding in a friend’s house after the Dimka coup – but he was installed by Shehu Musa Yaradua. Shagari was content with the senate but he was made president. Buhari was not sure what to do with the presidency but Tunde Idiagbon propped him up.
Babangida became president to prevent Idiagbon from moving against him. Shonekan was shamelessly installed by the Babangida-Abacha arrangement. Abacha savored his military powers but was unable to achieve anything else. Abubakar sat on the hot seat and ran for yet unclear reasons. Obasanjo (2nd coming) unwilling but installed by the Babangida machinery and his international friends. Yaradua installed by Obasanjo (payback time for Shehu Yaradua’s help earlier?)

This rule by the least qualified, least prepared and most unable pervades all levels of Nigerian politics.

We are stuck with Baba-go-slow let’s support him and push him. Let the press be on his heels all the way and hopefully he will not drag the country down like his godfather.

Posted by Koye | Report as abusive

Cometh the hour, cometh the man……..Can we say the same for the President of the most populous black nation in Africa? I think not. He was installed by the former President, forget the fact that he was “elected”. He might have started on a “high” with the reversal of sale of refineries and upholding the rule of law by respecting,with immediate effect, the decisions of the Courts,however, my humble opinion is that Mr President has lost steam. It seems the gentleman hasnt got a scooby of how to run the nation. I guess he needs a catalyst of an Adviser or a Minister to spur things. Who could this be? I know not. Cometh hour, cometh the man………….

Posted by Victor Olabode Munis | Report as abusive

It’s more the pity that a potentially rich country like Nigeria is unable to harness its resources for the benefit of the whole country not just a few isolated tribes. The revenues from oil should be used to better health services, education and innovation [such as solar power, suggested by previous comment]. It is not beyond the whit of anybody, it simply needs a plan and a strong determination to stick to that plan. Contact me if you need a planner!

Posted by Peter Woodcock | Report as abusive

Isolated tribes? What in heaven’s name is Mr Woodcock talking about? It seems he doesn’t know much about Nigeria beyond the usual western stereotypes of Africans.

Posted by Chimaoge Okezue | Report as abusive

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