…said it was too big
By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Features Editor
At a road intersection linking Emir Yahaya Road, Rijiya Dorowa and Kofar Atiku in Sokoto, is a narrow way popularly called Lungu in Hausa Language.
On both sides of this obscure road, are old houses made of mud but plastered with cement.
From that side of Sokoto metropolis, the old Post Office, popular Marina Police Station, prison and even the Sultan Palace could be accessed.
Virtually all the buildings on the lane have rustic charm, revealing that the area is part of the old Sokoto city, populated by natives.
Of the property in the countrified scenery, only a storey building looks different.
That the house is somewhat striking, does not imply that it is an architectural masterpiece.
Of course, it is the only storey building on the street, but only the regular presence of policemen at the frontage makes one curious.
Opposite the house is an old-fashioned house formerly made of mud, which was the first property, former President Shehu Shagari built in Sokoto, before erecting the storey building. Yes, a house made of mud!
But the structure on Shehu Shagari Crescent Road, which is also known as Gidan Shagari, among the local folk, is regarded as the only property built by Nigeria’s first Executive President.
Knowing the self-enrichment legacy of African leaders, it is indeed, pleasantly shocking.
Shagari had been a lawmaker, minister, and Chairman of Peugeot Automobile Limited, before becoming President at the age of 54, but Sunday Vanguard believes he didn’t have the legacy of greed and impunity. That didn’t make him look onto wealthy people as corrupt any way!
To paraphrase his eldest child, Capt Bala Shagari, rtd, who was detained, and retired by the Major-General Muhammadu Buhari regime, “he is never greedy and he is a person who never solicits anything or position, only gets it purely on merit.”
Sunday Vanguard learned that the former President resided at the property until 1995, when the government of the late Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha, rtd, built a befitting home for him in an upscale area, Sama Road.
Gentle mannered and principled, Shagari exemplified modesty while in government and outside government.
Just the way these virtues are not lost to Nigerians, they are considered priceless by family members.
Photos: Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s body in Sokoto
For instance, when Sunday Vanguard sought comments from his grandson, President of Nigerian Youth Council, Bello Shagari, his response simply captured the former President’s simplicity.
“When he was sworn in as the President, he decided to take the Vice President’s residence instead of the one meant for him because he felt the residence meant for the President was too luxurious for him and his family,” he said at 9:35 am, yesterday, amid preparations for a flight to Sokoto.
Though not a follower of the late leader of the Talakawa political ideology, Alhaji Aminu Kano, the former President cared less about comfort or luxury.
That was why in January 1986, he was cleared of any personal involvement in corrupt practices, despite being accused by the Buhari regime of being corrupt.
Sunday Vanguard recalls that the regime which toppled Shagari had alleged that government officials conspired to collect about $22 million in kickbacks on a $333 million contract with a French construction company, Feugerolle Nigeria Ltd.
But the Justice Samson Uwaifo review panel, declared that Shagari was unaware of the bribes.
Instructively, the panel, which was instituted by the then Military President, Ibrahim Babangida, dismissed the argument that Shagari should be held accountable for offenses committed by his aides.
At the time, the former President had been detained in a government guest house in Lagos for two years.
Opinions may be divided on how well Nigeria fared during his stewardship, but there is a consensus that he was an incorruptible leader.
Like Abraham Lincoln, who in a speech to the US Congress, said: “we cannot escape history; the fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation.”
Sunday Vanguard believes history would not dishonour but honour Shagari’s contented life.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 29, 2015 former Nigerian President Shehu Shagari arrives to attend the inauguration of new Nigerian President at the Eagles Square in Abuja, on May 29, 2015. – Former Nigerian president Shehu Shagari, who was in power between 1979 and 1983, died on December 28, 2018, aged 93, the country’s current president said. Shagari, a Fulani Muslim from Nigeria’s northwest, became the country’s first executive president with full, rather than ceremonial, powers when the country introduced a US-style system in 1979. (Photo by AFP)Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari: The bridge builder
By Clifford Ndujihe
ALTHOUGH he died at a ripe old age of 93, the demise of Nigeria’s first civilian President, Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shagari, last Friday, took many by surprise. Arguably, he was Nigeria’s most humble, unassuming, selfless, experienced, and less-controversial former head of state.
His reconciliatory and permissive nature, and bridge-building propensity marked him out as an exemplary leader. The elder statesman drew a lot of strength from humble background, teaching profession, philanthropic gestures, and public service cutting across education, economy, finance, and internal affairs among others.
Since his administration was toppled by the military regime of Major General Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 1983, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, was never in the news for negative or controversial reasons apart from the early days of the Buhari military government when the just-toppled political leadership was tarred with brush of graft.
Born in May 1925 at Shagari Village, Sokoto State as the sixth child of the polygamous Aliyu Shagari’s family, the late former president was prepared for a leadership of accommodation and concession early.
His humble, unassuming, accommodating, bridge-building disposition and experience paved the way for his emergence as the presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, in 1979, of which he went on to win the election proper to become the first civilian president of the country. He repeated the feat in 1983 with a wider margin amid allegations of rigging by opposition political parties.
Before the 1979 presidential poll, Shagari’s desire was to go to the Senate. But NPN leaders, his supporters and most Nigerians disagreed, and handed him the nation’s topmost job.
As one of those who fought for Nigeria’s independence, Shagari was desirous of accelerating the socio-economic development of the country.
This was one of the reasons he elected to pick a technocrat, late Dr Alex Ekwueme (an architect, town-planner and lawyer) as his running mate in 1979 and 1983. He side-stepped a host of leading politicians including late Chief K.O Mbadiwe in his choice of a running mate, and the move caused a stir in the polity then but he had the last laugh to the betterment of the polity.
Ekwueme would later go on to play critical roles in the affairs of the country especially at the 1994 National Constitutional Conference, where his suggestion for the creation of the six geo-political zones gained ground and currency.
His support for Chief Meredith Adisa Akinloye ensured that the latter remained the national chairman of the NPN in 1983 at a time some southern Turks angled for power-shift to the South.
Shagari started his education in a Quranic school before heading for Yabo elementary school (1931-1935), Middle School, Sokoto (1936-1940), he went to Sokoto for middle school, and Kaduna College (1941-1944). Between 1944 and 1952, Shehu Shagari matriculated at the Teachers Training College Zaria, Kaduna.
Showing early interest to be a science teacher, he later took an administrative course at Bauchi Teachers College and in the United Kingdom under the sponsorship of the British Council.
From 1953-1958, Shagari got a job as a visiting teacher at Sokoto Province. He was also a member of the Federal Scholarship Board from 1954-1958.
In spite of his interest in teaching, Shagari’s interest in politics became manifest in 1945 when he organised a youth social circle which mobilised youth against British imperialism. Thereafter, he became a founding-member of the Northern Peoples’ Congress, NPC. He was to take part in all the conferences that gave birth to the Richard and Mcpherson’s Constitutions at both federal and regional levels.
Shehu Shagari: Death of a humble but remarkable political leader
His political activism bore fruits with his election to represent Sokoto West in the Federal House of Representatives in 1954. His other political accomplishments appointments included: member, Federal Scholarship Board (1954 to 1958); in the same 1958, he attended a parliamentary course at Westminster, London which enabled him to obtain a certificate in parliamentary procedure; upon his return to Nigeria, he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.
Other appointments: Re-election into the Federal parliament in 1959; first Federal Minister of Economic Development; Minister of Establishment and Training and was credited for making great efforts to Nigerianise the civil service. After the 1966 coup, he returned to education and established a voluntary organisation known as the Sokoto Province Development Fund, which was reputed to have within two years, built 110 primary schools and three secondary schools.
The General Yakubu Gowon military regime identified Shagari’s qualities and from 1968 to 1970, appointed him state Commissioner for Establishment and later as State Commissioner for Education in the then North West states.
In June 1970, Shagari joined the Federal Cabinet as Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation. It was in this capacity that he supervised the rehabilitation and reconstruction activities of Nigeria after the bloody and destructive civil war that lasted three years. As if that was not enough, in 1971, he was appointed the Federal Commissioner for Finance, and in this capacity, he was a governor of the African Development Bank, a Director of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and a member of the Commiittee of 20 of the IMF.
Shehu Shagari was again forced to return to Sokoto following the military coup of 1975 and the Sokoto State government in 1976 appointed him chairman of the Sokoto Urban Development Board. The same year, the Federal Government appointed him Chairman of Peugeot Automobile Limited. It was also the same year he won the local elections into Yabo Local government council and in 1977, was elected to the Constituent Assembly. Thereafter, he became a founding-member of the National Movement of Nigeria, which later developed into a political party, the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, on which platform he won the 1979 presidential election.
Shehu ShagariPASSAGE OF SHAGARI: Emulate his bridge-building attribute, IBB charges politicians
•Ambode, Okowa, Ortom, Ishaku, Falae extol his virtues
Former Military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has admonished politicians to emulate the bridge-building attribute of late, first elected, Executive President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, GCFR. The former President passed-on late Friday.He was laid to rest yesterday.
More condolence messages have been pouring in since Friday from many quarters
IBB, as Babangida is fondly called, in a “condolence to the nation on the passing of President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shari, GCFR, said:
“With deep heart and sympathies I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the Family of the first civilian Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Turakin Sokoto, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, GCFR who passed on today, Friday, 28 December 2018 at the National Hospital after protracted illness.
“My heart and prayers go to his Family, the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Sokoto Caliphate and Sokoto State.
“Nigeria and indeed Africa has lost a statesman and democrat whose wisdom, counsel, presence and experience and his sterling qualities of honesty and transparency are needed in these very trying moments of our national life. President Shehu Shagari was a great patriotic leader and an accomplished gentleman, at first a teacher, an administrator, a technocrat and an honest decent unassuming simple Nigerian Leader.
“He will be remembered for his tolerance and politics of peace without bitterness. President Shehu Shagari was a nationalist who never showed any discrimination due to ethnicity or religion and was a very dependable bridge builder. To keep his memory alive Nigerian politicians and indeed all fellow Nigerians must put to practice all his ideals of peace and party politics without rancour, irrespective of any form of provocation. I urge all persons vying for political office to emulate him and keep alive the political principles of the late Turakin Sokoto, Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, the quintessential public servant who was “Beckoned to Serve”.
“I pray for the repose of his soul in Jannatul Firdaus. I pray that the entire nation, his Family, Sokoto State and indeed the Sokoto Caliphate will accept his passing with equanimity”.
He was a man of rare exemplary character -Lalong
Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, in his message to the Shagari family and his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal, urged the government and people of Sokoto State and the Shagari family and community to take solace in the fact that all mortals must experience death at God’s appointed time.
In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mark Longyen, the Governor said the late First Executive President of Nigeria was a man of rare exemplary character, who epitomized patriotism, integrity, humility and maturity, whose wise counsel will be missed by the nation.
The statement read: “I received the news of the death of former President Shehu Shagari with deep shock and sadness. The late First Executive President of Nigeria was a man of rare exemplary character who epitomized patriotism, integrity, humility and maturity.
“Shagari’s death has indeed robbed Nigeria of a great nationalist and uncommon elder statesman, whose wise counsel will be missed by the nation, especially in this critical epoch of her nation-building efforts”.
Nigeria Has Lost A Rare Gem – Ishaku
Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku described the death of Shagari as a colossal loss at a time the nation was gearing up for the 2019 general elections.
Ishaku in a condolence message by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Bala Dan Abu, stressed that death had robbed the nation of a rare gem whose counsel is most crucial.
According to the statement, “the Green Revolution programme of the late Shagari’s administration succeeded in sensitizing Nigerians on the need to pay more attention to farming” which according to him has reduced the country’s dependence on food imports.
Shagari was a democrat subdued by a dictator, says CUPP
The Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, in a statement by its spokesman, Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, described Shagari’s demise as a huge
loss to Nigeria.
“We commiserate with the Shagari family, the Sokoto State Government and indeed all Nigerians on such a huge loss of a nationalist and elder statesman per excellence particularly at these very challenging times. We also pray God to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss.
“President Shagari was a democrat who believed in the supremacy of the power of the people and only succumbed to the barrel of the gun of people who did not and still do not believe in the tenets of democracy and the supremacy of the rule of law.
“We however urge President Muhammadu Buhari not to attempt to pen any tributes in honour of Alhaji Shehu Shagari who even in death President Buhari was insensitive enough to use as an example to justify his tyranny and crass performance and who all through his life has relished using Alhaji Shehu Shagari to massage his ego”.
Ex-President Lived Exemplary Life, Used Power To Serve Humanity
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, expressed sadness over the demise of the first executive President of Nigeria and elder statesman, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Governor Ambode, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, described the late Shagari as a complete gentleman, a thorough bred democrat and philanthropist per excellence who contributed immensely to Nigeria’s growth and development.
“The late President lived an exemplary life; he was a democrat and a fine gentle man whose idea of power was that of being a tool to serve his fatherland and humanity. He was an elder statesman in the true sense of the word.
“He was also a detribalized Nigerian who was committed to the course of a united, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria. He believed so much in all inclusive governance and was one of those patriotic Nigerians who contributed in laying the foundation of a sustainable democracy in Nigeria,” Governor Ambode said.
While commiserating with the family of the late elder statesman, the Governor urged them to uphold the ideals he stood for, saying that the nation will continue to draw inspiration from his life and times.
He was a pillar of Nigeria’s democracy – Ortom
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, joined millions of other Nigerians in mourning the death of the former President of the country.
He described him as a pillar of Nigeria’s democracy.
Governor Ortom in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, described the late former President as a true patriot who worked hard for the unity of the country.
He stated that “Alhaji Shehu Shagari played a key role in the development of the country as its first Executive President and remained a pillar of our democracy till his death.”
The Governor consoled members of the former President’s family in particular and the people of Sokoto State in general and prayed God to grant the departed Nigerian leader eternal rest.
Okowa extols his commitment to Nigeria’s unity
DELTA State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, yesterday said former President Shehu Shagari’s unwavering commitment to the unity of Nigeria had been a major encouragement to many governments, recalling the personal sacrifices he made in helping to lay the foundation for sustainable democracy in Nigeria before he was overthrown in 1983.
Okowa in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Aniagwu, to Nigerians, and to the Government and people of Sokoto State, on the death of the former President, described his death as a big loss to the country.
He commiserated with the entire Shagari village, the Sokoto Caliphate, and the Shagari family, over the loss of the former President, noting that the deceased’s regular counsels on national issues and mediations for peaceful co-existence would be sorely missed.
“On behalf of my family, the government and people of Delta State, I join the entire nation and the people of Sokoto State to mourn the passing of former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was President in the Second Republic.
“Governor Ifeanyi Okowa believes Alhaji Shagari worked assiduously to improve the livelihood of many poor and underprivileged people through the Green Revolution where he embarked on the distribution of seed and fertilliser to farmers to increase nationwide productivity in farming, adding that “Shagari was a legendary public servant; who dedicated his life to the service of our nation in several capacities as minister, legislator and finally President.
“The Governor affirms that Shagari’s unwavering commitment to the unity of Nigeria had been a major encouragement to many governments, recalling the personal sacrifices he made in helping to lay the foundation for sustainable democracy in Nigeria before he was overthrown in 1983″.
Falae: Shagari ruled without nepotism, tribal, religious sentiments
THE National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Chief Olu Falae, in a statement yesterday, said he received the death of the former Nigerian leader with huge shock,added that Nigeria had lost yet another great leader it had ever produced.
He described Shagari as a president who led an examplary lifestlye that eschewed all forms of discrimination, ethnic, tribal and religious sentiments.
The statement said “it was with a heavy heart that I received yesterday, the sad and shocking news of the death of yet another eminent personality, elder statesman and former President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari whose demise occurred on Friday in Abuja after a short illness
“It grieves my heart that Nigeria has lost yet another most outstanding leaders this country has ever produced.
“On behalf of the SDP family, I wish to express our heart felt sympathy to the entire family of the deceased and the country at large for this monumental lose.
“As an elder statesman, the Late Shagari during his life time, led an examplary lifestlye that eschewed all forms of discrimination, ethnic, tribal and religious sentiment.
“This was reflected in the great role he played in the emancipation of Zimbabwe and the fight against apartheid in South Africa decades ago.
His death is painful – Jimi Agbaje
The PDP governorship candidate for Lagos State commiserated with the government and people of Sokoto State over the death of Shagari
Agbaje said Shagari’s demise at this time was painful.
Describing Shagari as one of the country’s most historical personalities, Agbaje said he would be remembered for being a humble and unassuming politician.
According to the PDP candidate, it was a pity that following the four years that Shagari ruled Nigeria and the aborting of his regime in 1983, the country’s fortunes had been on the downward spiral.
Nigerian students mourn Shagari
PDP mourns second republic President, urges FG to immortalise him
By Dirisu Yakubu
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has expressed deep sadness over the passing of foremost nationalist and former President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Othman Shagari describing it as a national tragedy.
The party described the late Second Republic President of Nigeria as a man of peace, an exceptionally honest Nigerian, outstanding leader, quintessential administrator and a symbol of national unity, who made immeasurable sacrifices for the development, unity and stability of the nation.
In a condolence message signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said “Alhaji Shehu Shagari’s excellent performance as political party administrator, member of the House of Representatives, Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, variously as minister of Commerce and Industries; Economic Development, Pensions, Works and then Finance; in addition to his service as a governor of the World Bank and member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committee of 20, all stood him out for the Presidency in 1979.
“Despite the challenges that faced the Second Republic, President Shagari remained dedicated in putting our nation on the path of national unity, economic growth and political stability, which was however, scuttled by the military coup staged by then Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
“That coup was a great disservice to our dear nation, as it reversed all the gains of the Shagari’s democratic rule and plunged us into serious national challenges, from which our nation has been struggling to recover.
“The PDP is therefore, deeply sorrowful that President Shehu Shagari took his bow at the time our nation needs his wealth of experience the most, particularly in the quest to restore good governance, national cohesion and economic prosperity that have eluded us in almost four years.
“In all, President Shehu Shagari remains a political colossus and the PDP urges the National Assembly to further immortalize him, by mandating the federal government to name a foremost national institution after this great patriot.
“The PDP commiserates with the Shagari family, the government and people of Sokoto state, the Council of State and the entire nation for this irreparable loss and prays the Almighty Allah to grant him eternal rest.”
The former President passed on to the great beyond on Friday night in Abuja at the age of 93.