May 6, 2010 – The Nigerian Television Authority interrupted programing on Wednesday to announce the death of its commander-in-chief, Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua.
Yar’Adua, 58 years-old died from a heart condition and will be buried on Thursday. The country will now begin seven days of national mourning and Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan who assumed the presidential duties in February will be sworn in.
During Yar’Adua’s tenure he was ill frequently and a presidential spokesman said at the time of his death he was being treated for acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around the heart.
Born in the northern Katsina, where he was elected as governor, Yar’Ardu was married with nine children. He earned a degree in chemistry before entering politics and after serving as governor was elected in 2007 as president.
In a statement released by The White House President Obama said, “We are saddened by the news of Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua’s passing, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Yar’Adua family and the people of Nigeria as they mourn his loss.”
Nigeria is the largest country on the continent and home to 150 million people. During Yar’Adua’s presidency he tackled a list of reforms including corruption, reforming inadequate power sector and working to create a free transparent electoral system.
President Obama praised Yar’Adua work to promote peace and stability in his administration. “He was committed to creating lasting peace and prosperity within Nigeria’s own borders, and continuing that work will be an important part of honoring his legacy,” Obama said.
It’s unclear how Yar’Adua death will impact future reforms he promoted but Obama was optimist and called to continue a supportive relationship with the U.S.
“The Nigerian people and government should know that in this time of national mourning they have a friend and enduring partner in the United States and that together we will continue to work to address the common challenges we face,” Obama said.