Nigerian leader pays respects late president’s family

Nigerian leader pays respects late president’s family
# 08 May 2010 19:03 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Newly inaugurated Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan led a group of top officials to the family home of late head of state Umaru Yar’Adua on Saturday to pay their respects after his death, APA reports quoting AFP.
Jonathan, wearing a traditional white flowing robe called a boubou, was accompanied by his wife Patience, Senate president David Mark, ministers, ruling party officials, legislators, state governors and top politicians.
The wives of three former heads of state, two of them widows, sat by the side of Yar’Adua’s wife, Turai, who personally took greetings from visitors at the main lobby where she sat throughout the ceremony.
Male visitors who filed in, barefooted, knelt down before Yar’Adua’s widow in a customary Islamic greeting and walked out almost immediately. Only dozens of women relations or sympathisers were seen in the lobby with her.
Yar’Adua, 58, died late Wednesday in Abuja after a protracted heart ailment that kept him out of the office since November. He was buried Thursday at his Katsina home town in Nigeria’s largely Muslim far north.
"It is sad to express my feelings over the death of my boss, my brother, my friend who asked me to join him to run the affairs of this country," Jonathan wrote in a condolence book at the home.
"I lack words to express my personal feelings. God knows best. May his soul rest in peace," he said.
Jonathan was absent at the funeral rites of Yar’Adua on Thursday. No official reason was given for this.
At the family house on Saturday, he spoke with Yar’Adua’s widow and his mother in a visit that took place under heavy security with dozens of armed soldiers and policemen in position around the one-storey, yellow home.
Jonathan’s condolence message in English was seen being interpreted to Yar’Adua’s mother in local Hausa language.
The event was broadcast live by state-run national television NTA.
Jonathan had since February been acting president of the oil-producing African nation riven by religious and political divisions.
On Thursday, hours after Yar’Adua’s death, he was inaugurated to complete the late president’s mandate before elections due in May next year.
Four Nigerian heads of state have died in office so far since 1966. Yar’Adua is the only civilian among them.