Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Making reference to the coup, which led to the enthronement of Muhammadu Buhari/Tunde Idiagbon military administration in 1983, after ousting the Second Republic government of President Shehu Shagari, some senators Thursday described it as a cog in the wheel of development of the country.
The senators, who spoke, while contributing to a motion, titled ‘The Demise of Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari’, lamented that Nigeria would have improved tremendously in all facets of life if the administration of the first Executive President, elected on the platform of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was not overthrown by the Buhari-led military.
They noted that late Shagari, who died on December 28, 2018, had a clear vision for Nigeria’s development and lived a life worthy of emulation by the present leaders and young politicians, in order to restore the old glory of the country.
Senator Ibrahim Danbaba (Sokoto South) and eight other senators, had co-sponsored a motion on the demise of former President Shagari who died at the National Hospital, Abuja.
The co-sponsors of the motion include Senators Tijjani Yahaya (Zamfara North); Bala Na’Allah (Kebbi South); Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto East) and Aliyu Wammakko (Sokoto North).
Others are Senators Adamu Aleiro (Kebbi Central); Ahmed Yarima (Zamfara West); Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central) and Yahaya Abdullahi (Kebbi North).
Leading the debate, Senator Danbaba said Shagari promoted national unity in the country and executed many projects in the agricultural sector under his government’s Green Revolution programme, housing and industrial development.
According to him, Shagari had a distinguished and unblemished public record spanning over a period of 30 years, adding that “he was forthright, a nation builder, a distinguished statesman that contributed greatly to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria.”
He lamented that Shagari’s government was overthrown in a military coup in 1983, thereby terminating the Second Republic democratic rule barely after four years, noting that the deceased remained a political colossus after he was toppled from office.
On his part, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North), said the 1983 coup took Nigeria backward by 20 years, describing Shagari as a detribalised Nigerian, who will be remembered for his selfless love and commitment to the nation’s unity.
Also speaking, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, (Yobe North), said “the President Shagari was truly a democrat, statesman, humble person and eminent personality loved by all”.
According to him, the deceased was “clever and strategic enough, when he appointed many politicians, who were not his party members into cabinet having extended hands of fellowship to other political parties.’’
While lamenting that Shagari didn’t have a house of his own, as at the time he was overthrown, the Senate Leader reminded his colleagues that life and power were transient and should therefore be mindful of their behaviours in and out of office.
The Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, (Kebbi South), on his part, said Nigeria has “lost an honest and sincere leader who lived and died as a national patriot”.
On his part, Senator Adamu Aliero, (Kebbi Central) noted that Shagari “exhibited simplicity and humility while in power.”
He added that the former president “will be remembered for massive infrastructural development of the Federal Capital Territory and the prominent role he played in the independence of Zimbabwe as well as the fight against apartheid in South Africa.’’
Also contributing, Senator Barnabas Gemade, (Benue North East), described Shagari as a detribalised leader who worked hard for the unity and development of the country.
He recalled how the former president appointed three cabinet members from Benue State at the same, saying time only a patriotic leader would remember a minority ethnic group for such gesture.
Speaking in the same vein, Senators Oluremi Tinubu, (Lagos Central); Shehu Sani, (Kaduna Central); Barau Jibrin, (Kano North)and Ibrahim Gobir, (Sokoto East), noted that the Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi State, massive housing estates and road construction across the country were part of the legacies he left behind.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, described Shagari as a nationalist without borders and a bridge builder, whose greatest attribute was his commitment to the unity and growth of the country.
The Senate, in its resolution, therefore urged the federal government to immortalise the late former president by naming a national monument after him. The upper legislative chamber also yesterday confirmed the appointment of Elder Monday Tom as Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) as well as Mr Chidi Izuwah, as Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
The confirmation was based on the reports presented by the Senate Committees on INEC and Works, asking the Senate to confirm the two nominees as INEC REC and DG, ICRC respectively.