Shagaya Dies in Auto Crash

• Buhari, IBB, Mark, ACF mourn

By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos and John Shiklam in Kaduna    

A former Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, John Nanzip Shagaya, died yesterday in an auto crash at Amper, along Langtang Road, Plateau State. 

Shagaya, who was recently named Chairman, Board of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) by President Muhammadu Buhari, was elected senator, representing Plateau South in April 2007, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

His election was challenged and nullified by the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal, a decision overturned in December 2008 by the Jos Division of the Court of Appeal.

He ran for re-election in April 2011 on the Labour Party (LP) platform but was defeated by Senator Victor Lar of the PDP.

Shagaya was born on September 2, 1942, to Mallam Sikji Miri Wazhi and Mrs. Maryamu Zwancit.

He attended Junior Primary School at Nyer and Sudan United Mission Primary School, Langtang (1952–1959) after which he proceeded to the Nigerian Military School, Zaria 1960-1964.

After graduation, he was posted to the Nigerian Army Corps. He later got posted to 3 Marine Commando in 1967 after being commissioned Second Lieutenant.

Under the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, Shagaya was at various times Minister of Internal Affairs; member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) and member of the Police Council. He also served as chairman of the committee set up in 1987 to decide on Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

The late senator was one of the drafters of the main protocols for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). As a member of the National Boundary Commission, he helped to resolve disputes with Benin and Chad.

Shagaya was appointed Field Commander of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) Peacekeeping Force in Liberia in September 1993, relieving Major General Adetunji Olurin.

Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has expressed shock over Shagaya’s death. He was the forum’s Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT).

The ACF in a statement by its spokesman, Alhaji Mohammed Biu, described Shagaya, as an elder statesman who would be remembered for his commitment to national unity.

“The late elder statesman, Shagaya, would be remembered for his commitment to national unity, selfless service to his fatherland, vision and intellect,” adding: “Nigeria has lost one of its finest politicians, a bridge builder and a leader who lived a simple and humble life.”

Former Senate President, David Mark, also expressed sadness at the death of Shagaya, describing it as shocking.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Paul Mumeh, Mark said Shagaya who was also in the Army, was among the best and fertile minds in the armed forces.

“He believed in the sanctity of our unity. He believed in the rule of law and in a society where every citizen is free to pursue his or her legitimate ambition in any part of the country without fear of molestation or intimidation,” he said.

In his own reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari said he was profoundly saddened to learn of the tragic accident that took the life of Shagaya.

In a statement Sunday by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, the president offered his “heartfelt condolences to the Shagaya family, friends, the Government and people of Plateau State on the painful passing of their illustrious son.”

The president paid tribute to the late senator whose legacies, he said, would live on in the patriotic work he did as a military officer, who rose to the position of a general and a senator representing Plateau South.

Also, a former military ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said he was shocked by the sudden demise of Shagaya who referred to as one of the brilliant retired military officers.

“General Shagaya until his death had been an ardent supporter of the unity of Nigeria as a nation and a peace builder,” Babangida said.