Written by Mahmud Jega:

President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s long battle with chronic kidney and heart disease ended last night when he died inside the Presidential Villa in Abuja. He will be buried at his family home in Katsina at 1 o’clock this afternoon. Very few details were available last night, but Daily Trust learnt that Yar’adua’s health began to deteriorate yesterday, and some staff members said his condition was “going up and down” throughout yesterday. Only a few family members and the late president’s closest aides were at hand as his personal physician and Saudi Arabian doctors battled to save Yar’adua’s life. He died around 9pm.

Late last night, the Federal Government confirmed in a statement that Yar’adua had died. The statement by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman Ima Niboro announced that the burial will take place at Katsina at 2 o’clock this afternoon. The government declared today a public holiday in honour of the departed president and also declared 7 days of national mourning.

Since his controversial secret return to the country last February, the late president had been kept away from public view inside the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Although his family members and close aides generally said his health was improving since he returned to the country, he occasionally suffered a relapse. Two weeks ago, his wife Hajia Turai told friends who visited her that she was “full of worry” for her husband’s health. She said the biggest problem was his inability to speak, due to a device inserted into his throat by the Saudi Arabian doctors during his 93-day hospitalisation in Jeddah.

According to the now widowed First Lady, the main reason why the family held Yar’adua out of public view was because his doctors dictated for him a very light dress so that he would receive maximum ventilation. She reportedly said it was not possible for him to appear in public in that very light dress.

The president’s tragic passing and a tenure dogged by illness will be formally closed this afternoon when he is buried in Katsina. Yar’adua was the Mutawallen Katsina and was for 8 years the governor of Katsina State. It will be completed with the formal swearing-in of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who will make the transition from Acting President to substantive President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

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