By Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has commiserated with Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, and the people of the state over the death of the Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, describing the late elder statesman as “a man of honour and an achiever.”
Also, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun described Shagari as an exceptional public officer.
Shagari died after brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja on Friday night at age 93.
In a letter, which was made available to newsmen through his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, on Saturday, Obasanjo lauded Shagari’s roles in the pre and post independence Nigerian politics.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to say how deeply grieved I was to hear of the death of His Excellency President Shehu Usman Shagari.
“On behalf of my family and on my own behalf, I wish to commiserate with you, the entire members of his family and the good people of Sokoto State over the passing of this humble, patriotic, amiable and notable Nigerian leader.
“I would like to express my deep respect for the achievements of President Shehu Shagari in the course of his long life as one of the principal actors in Nigeria’s pre-independence and post-independence politics. He held various positions as a parliamentarian in the Federal House of Representatives representing Sokoto West in 1954, as a Parliamentarian Secretary 1958-1959, as a Federal Minister and Commissioner in different Ministries and capacities between 1959 and 1975. I remember his role as Commissioner for Finance while he and I served in the government of General Yakubu Gowon. He was thorough.
“And later, I saw him as my successor in government as a democratically-elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983. Indeed, President Shagari rendered outstanding service to our country, and we will remember his services in that respect.
“President Shehu Shagari was a man of honour and an achiever. In all his national assignments, he was forthright, dedicated and showed great commitment in the discharge of his duties. He was a unifying force for the nation and his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot easily be forgotten. In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility.
“Let us bear in mind that we all have the opportunity to act nobly in whatever position we find ourselves. President Shagari died at a time the country and its leadership is in dire need of such leadership, experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation”, the letter read in part.
It would be recalled that Obasanjo, in 1979, handed over the reigns of power to the late Nigerian leader under a democratic process, thus, becoming the first military head of State to have successfully done so.
The democratic process was scuttled on December 31, 1983, when the military junta led by Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari staged a coup d etat and ousted the administration of Shagari.
Also, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun has described Shagari as an exceptional public servant and statesman.
The governor, in a condolence message, said his death was a huge loss to Nigeria.
“I join Nigerians to mourn the death of former President Shehu Shagari GCFR, who indeed served our nation meritoriously and zealously.
“The deceased distinguished himself as a devoted public officer, when he served as federal minister and commissioner between 1958 and 1975. He lived a fulfilled life and (was) noted as an exceptional public servant and statesman.
“His foray into politics saw him being elected as the president of our nation, between October 1, 1979 and December 31, 1983. Though his tenure was cut short by a military coup, it should be acknowledged, to his credit, that he bore no grudge over the subsequent challenges, but rose above them and continued to offer his service for the growth of the nation”, Amosun added.