I was not surprised to see a couple of days ago the news that the president of Nigeria, Umaru Yar'Adua, had died. It had been a strange situation for some time. He had been in poor health and gone to Saudi Arabia for treatment last November, leaving the rest of the government wondering what was going on. Was he dying? Would he be back? Who was in charge? The National Assembly transferred executive power to the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, in February. And finally, upon Yar'Adua's death, Mr. Jonathan was sworn in as president yesterday.
Reading the obituaries for Yar'Adua in the Telegraph and Al Jazeera, I can't help but feel regret over what might have been, had he been healthy. But he wasn't and we will never know. It may be that the flaws the obituary glosses over (allegations of election fraud, application of sharia law) would have been the order of the day, rather than battling corruption which he seems to have been willing to tackle head-on.
And though he didn't fall into the trap of political corruption, in his ill health he did engender a constitutional crisis for his country.
Meanwhile, there is some religious tension as the Muslim Mr. Yar'Adua is replaced by the Christian Mr. Jonathan.
Basically, I wouldn't want to be in the new president's shoes. But then, I don't have to be. Good luck, Mr. Jonathan.