Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Yar'Adua Kept Family Out of Govt - Brother

Family members of then-President Umaru Yar'Adua never interfered with governance as he would not even tolerate them doing that, the late president's younger brother Abdulaziz has said.

Speaking to Daily Trust in Abuja at the weekend, Abdulaziz, who retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel shortly after the president's death in May 2010, said his brother was so careful to the extent that did not want his family involved in governance.

"He is not the kind of person that gives you the room to interfere. He was very careful; he doesn't want the family to be involved in governance," he said.

When asked whether as a senior military officer he did advise his brother on military strategies, Abdulaziz said: "To be honest with you I did not do such things. Even while he was governor for eight years I never interfered with his governance because I know the kind of person he is.

"In our family we do not interfere like that. The same thing happened to him when the late General Shehu Yar'Adua was the Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, he (Umaru Yar'adua) never interfered with his governance and I never did to him when he was governor and president, even though at that time I was fortunate to be at the Army Headquarters."

Abdulaziz Yar'Adua also exonerated former President Olusegun Obasanjo from allegations that he imposed the late Umaru knowing that he was sick and dying. He said the belief was equivalent to arrogating God's attribute to Obasanjo.

"I am surprised that Nigerians especially in the North say that former president Olusegun Obasanjo imposed him on the northerners so that we will not have our two terms," he said.

"It is really surprising because as Muslims, we know that power belongs to God and He gives it to whosoever He wills. So if we believe in that then we should have known that Allah has destined that the late president will be a president and will serve for three years and then Goodluck Jonathan would take over.

"But for those who are shouting in the North that General Obasanjo knew that the late president was sick, are they saying that Obasanjo knows what will happen tomorrow? We are trying to arrogate the powers of Allah to General Obasanjo and it is not fair, especially as Muslims because we know that no one knows what will happen in the next second."

Abdulaziz Yar'Adua said the relationship between his family and General Obasanjo which dates back several decades was still warm. "Even last week when he went to Katsina to attend the Customs event, he went to greet our mother," he said.

Yar'Adua also recalled the hype over the president's illness, saying the way Nigerians sensationalise issues and put more interest in negativism was responsible for the scanty information about the president's health.

"This country Nigeria is a place where rumors thrive and people like sensation. We lack respect for our leaders...You will notice that when our leaders are sick, people tend to go overboard; the moment they get certain information they twist it negatively and that is why when such persons are sick, there is a limit to the information they divulge.

"Like the current First Lady, there were all kinds of things being said. Instead of the nation to pray for her to get well, people wanted to know if she was dead or what ailment she was suffering from. This only shows that we are gradually losing our value system and it is time to do something about it rather than play blame games.

"Our democracy is growing gradually and if we are able to build a strong system, it will take care of all these."

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