Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has condoled with the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal and the people of the state following the death of former Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
The message of condolence was contained in a letter Obasanjo personally wrote, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta by his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi.
Obasanjo, in 1979, handed the reins of power to the late Nigerian leader under a democratic dispensation, becoming the first Military head of state to do so.
But the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, as a soldier, went on to overthrow the government of Shagari in 1983.
Shagari died after brief illness at the National Hospital, Abuja on Monday night at age 93.
Obasanjo, who called the family to commiserate with them immediately the news broke, stated in the letter to the state governor, that Shagari was a man of honour and an achiever.
He further eulogised Shagari’s roles in the country’s pre and post-Independence politics.
The letter reads: “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, ex-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 of 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 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 are in dire need of such leadership, experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted 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 grant him eternal rest and give comfort to all those he left behind.”