Nigerians from various groupings have been extolling the starling quality of the first executive president in the second republic, Alhaji Shehu Shagari who died on Friday at the age of 93 years.
The Renaissance reports that the former president died at the National Hospital, Abuja at about 10.03 a.m. after a brief illness.
He was admitted in the hospital to undergoing treatment before his death. This was also confirmed by his grandson in a tweet at the time of his death.
Among the early to react was the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who on Saturday, extolled the late former president, Shehu Shagari’s role in Nigeria’s pre- and post-independence politics.
Obasanjo gave the eulogy in a condolence letter addressed to Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta.
He described late Shagari as a humble, patriotic, amiable and notable Nigerian leader.
Obasanjo expressed his deep respect for the achievements of the late Shagari in the course of his long life, describing him as one of the principal actors in Nigeria’s pre-independence and post-independence 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.
“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.
“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.
“President Shagari died at a time the country and its leadership is in dire need of such leadership, experience and wisdom to tackle the multi-faceted challenges facing the nation.
“While expressing our sympathies to you, the family of the deceased and the government and people of Sokoto State, we pray the Almighty Allah to grant him eternal rest and give comfort to all those he left behind,” Obasanjo said.
Also, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara mourned the former president, describing him as the last of the first and second Republic titans.
Saraki who expressed sadness over the death of the first elected President of Nigeria, Shagari, however, described the late Elder statesman as a man of peace who dedicated the greater part of his life to the service of the fatherland.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Ilorin, Saraki noted that Shagari would be remembered for his immense contributions to the political and socio-economic development of the country as well as his peaceful disposition.
He also commiserated with the immediate and larger family of the deceased, the government and people of Sokoto State, and the entire country over the loss of the former President as he stated that: “let’s be consoled by the fact that Alhaji Shagari lived his life in the service of God and country”.
Dogara, in a condolence message to Nigerians, stated that the former president was a true democrat and an icon of transparency.
“We have lost a father, man of peace, ta rue democrat, patriot and a nationalist.
“He led an exemplary life of service to God and country worthy of emulation, he was a president for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion or region,” the Speaker stated.
Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta said Nigeria would greatly miss the late former President Shehu Shagari’s regular counsel on national issues and mediations for peaceful coexistence.
Okowa made this known in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Aniagwu in Asaba.
“Shagari, embarked on the distribution of seed and fertiliser to farmers to increase nationwide productivity in farming.
“He was a legendary public servant, who dedicated his life to the service of our nation in several capacities – as a minister, legislator, and finally as president.
“Shagari’s unwavering commitment to the unity of Nigeria had been a major encouragement to many governments.
“He made personal sacrifices to help lay the foundation for sustainable democracy in Nigeria before he was overthrown in 1983.
“As a country, we will miss his wise counsel on national issues and peaceful co-existence especially now that the nation is entering an election year,” Okowa said.
He added that the late Shagari worked assiduously to improve the livelihood of many poor and underprivileged people through the Green Revolution programme, which he initiated.
Similarly, the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Olu Falae, described late Alhaji Shehu Shagari as an outstanding leader that eschewed all forms of discrimination, ethnic, tribal and religious sentiments.
Falae in a statement issued by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alfa Mohammed, on Saturday in Abuja, said that it grieved his heart that Nigeria had lost yet another eminent personality, elder statesman, former President and one of the most outstanding leaders the country had ever produced.
He said that he received with a heavy heart the sad and shocking news of the death of Shagari, whose demise occurred on Friday in Abuja after a short illness.
“On behalf of the SDP family, I wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to the entire family of the deceased and the country at large for this monumental loss.
“As an elder statesman, the Late Shagari during his lifetime led an exemplary lifestyle 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.”
Falae also said that the deceased was a great patriot who fought hard not just for peace and unity of this country but was instrumental to the social economic development of this country.