Nigerian President Yar’Adua Dead at 58

Umaru-Yar'AduaNigeria is in mourning. President Umaru Yar’Adua has lost his battle with a lingering illness that has caused him to take a leave of absence three months ago. A spokesman for the president said Yar’Adua died at the presidential villa called Aso Rock.

Presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi said Yar’Adua’s wife, Turai, was with the Nigerian leader when he died. Yar’Adua will be buried on Thursday. The president went to Saudi Arabia in November last year to seek treatment for what was reported to be severe pericarditis, which affects the sac surrounding the heart.

The National Assembly appointed Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan as acting-president on February 9 to plug a power vacuum left by Yar’Adua’s decision to seek medical attention abroad. Yar’Adua returned to Nigeria on February 24, raising speculations that he would resume his work as president. However, he did not appear in public since his return.

Yar’Adua was in the middle of peace negotiations with insurgency group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, whose attacks on oil installations caused Nigeria to lose its standing as Africa’s top petroleum exporter. However, Yar’Adua’s legacy is smudged by his failure to end religious violence in Africa’s most populous country.