President Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria who died last night following a long battle with kidney and heart ailments, is being remembered in his country as a man of “decency and integrity”. He was 58.
Yar'Adua, a Muslim from the north, will be succeeded by his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the oil-rich south. Jonathan became acting President earlier this year when Yar'Adua became sickly.
Jonathan put on a sash bearing the green, yellow and white colors of Nigeria this morning, signifying his formal take over of the presidency from Umaru Yar'Adua.
He then said this about the former leader.
“Nigeria has lost the jewel on its crown, and even the heavens mourn with our nation tonight. As individuals and as a nation we prayed for the recovery of Mr President. But we take solace in the fact that the Almighty is the giver and taker of all life”.
Jonathan declared Thursday a public holiday and announced that there will be seven days of national mourning.
Jonathan took over the Presidential reins in February and since then, has been busy consolidating his hold on power, appointing a new cabinet and his own team of advisers. He now automatically becomes head of state of one of the world’s leading oil producers, and will finish out his predecessor’s term which expires in May of 2011. Jonathan has not yet indicated whether he will run for office, but has promised Nigerians that the elections will be free and fair.