- Late president was a man of peace, says Fayemi•
BY AYODELE ABERE in Ado Ekiti and REMILEKUN DARAMOLA in Maiduguri•
Northern governors have described late President Shehu Shagari, who ruled Nigeria between 1979 and 1983 before the military toppled him, as one of the greatest statesmen in his era.
The Chairman of the Northern Nigeria States Governor Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, in a statement on behalf of the other governors of the region said the choice of Shagari apolitical for 35 years (since leaving office in 1983) has towered him as one of nation’s best-qualified statesmen since the second republic.
The governor, in a statement he personally signed on Saturday on behalf of the other 18 governor, said: “Since leaving office in December 1983, His Excellency, our late father, President Shehu Shagari made the rare and bold choice of staying out of partisan politics in Nigeria, despite his immense popularity in the country.
“He opted to remain a statesman and a father of the nation and he maintained such a dignified position till he died in December 2018, making it exactly 35 apolitical years.
“In all these years, he measured his words and actions as a peaceful and unifying leader. To cap it up, Shagari died in Abuja, the nation’s capital which symbolises our nationalism and unity.”
Shettima said: “Clearly, Shagari lived and died a nationalist and a true statesman.”
He added that: “Governors in the 19 northern states join family of the late former President, the federal government, Sokoto state government, northerners and millions of Nigerians to mourn the demise of such an undiluted elder statesman.”
“Although he died at a time his wise counsel was needed, he has bequeathed to us, his documented lifetime of statesmanship, good character, calmness, and selfless interest in the unity and prosperity of Nigeria.
“Nigeria and Nigerians will miss and mourn Shagari till eternity. We collectively pray that God in His infinite mercy grant the late elder statesman eternal rest and admit him into heaven.
“We also pray that God gives his family and all of us, Nigerians, the fortitude to bear the loss of a father to our nation”
In the same fashion, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State has commiserated with the government and people of Sokoto State, the Sokoto Caliphate and family of the first executive President of the country, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, on the passing of the ex-President on Friday, aged 93.
Fayemi, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Yinka Oyebode, described Alhaji Shagari as a man of peace, who lived an exemplary simple life style.
The Ekiti State Governor said Shagari, through the various positions he held since 1951 when he became the Secretary of the Northern People’s Congress in Sokoto, till his presidency between 1979 and 1983, played very significant roles in the socio-political growth and development of Nigeria.
Fayemi said the late Shagari was a true example of a leader who loved peace and pursued it with all his might. “Until he breathed his last continued to render invaluable support to successive administrations at the various levels of government in the country”.
He said the late Shagari earned greater respect as an elder statesman because of his simple life style, which endeared him to many.
“We shall miss this great and amiable leader, who abhorred politics of bitterness.
“ I convey the condolences of my family, the good people of Ekiti State to the Shagari family, the Sokoto caliphate, the government and people of Sokoto State for the passing and pray that Almighty Allah grant him Aljannah firdous”.