From all corners of Nigeria have come eulogies for former President, Late Shehu Aliyu Shagari, whose beautiful candle went out in the National Hospital, Abuja on Friday.
President Muhammadu Buhari had shortly after his death was made public expressed sadness at the departure of a patriot whose life of service and humility was widely acknowledged.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari said, “On behalf of my family, the government and the people of Nigeria, it is with immense sadness that I received the news of the passing away of the First Executive President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari which event happened Friday in Abuja.”
He reiterated what he wrote to Shagari on his birthday last February, “ we are enthralled and regaled with the many years of unequalled patriotism, sacrifices and contributions to national development. More specifically, we celebrate the role modelling qualities of integrity, diligence and humility that have been the hallmark of your visionary leadership.”
“Nigerians held him in the highest esteem even when he was out of office until his demise and will forever miss his wise counsels,” he added.
Below are samples of the eulogies for the grand old man who was the Second Republic President between 1979 and 1983.
Former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan
Former Nigerian President Dr.Goodluck Jonathan has condoled with the family of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and the people of Sokoto State over the demise of the nation’s Second Republic President, describing him as a nation builder who cemented a good relationship between the North and South.
Ex-President Jonathan stated this in a tribute to the nation’s first executive President, noting that Shagari was a patriot who placed service to humanity and fatherland above personal interest.
In a statement by Ikechukwu Eze, the former President’s spokesman, Dr. Jonathan further described Shagari as a nice man with a clean heart who was sincere and selfless in service.
He said: “Late President Shagari was a very nice man with a clean heart. As a President he was humble, sincere and selfless in service. He was in deed a true democrat who left no one in doubt about his loyalty to his country, love for peace, desire for unity and vision for a greater Nigeria.
“Shagari was an exceptional leader and exemplary statesman whose modesty, commitment to common good and deep sense of patriotism will continue to inspire many generations of Nigerians. He will be remembered as a teacher, parliamentarian and President whose model of service was anchored on diligence, broad-mindedness and humility
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar
Former President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari was the specimen of a patriotic Nigerian whose life was a pattern of good works. A completely detribalised Nigerian, he served Nigeria from his youth to the evening of his life, first as a teacher and moulder of minds and later as a leader and moulder of nations.
His election as the first executive President of Nigeria on October 1, 1979 brought relief to the nation and began the process of ending tribal politics, especially as he brought the Southeast into the political mainstream by naming Dr. Alex Ekwueme as his running mate.
After his unplanned and untimely departure from office, he continued to devote his time and effort to nation building through the elder statesmanly role he played, including during my time in office as Vice President.
We shared a lot in common. Like me, he held the official title of Turaki, a position of great trust. And like myself, he believed in empowering the masses, which he did through his Green Revolution.
President Shagari was meek and gentle, yet had a firm resolve and these traits led to the golden age of Nigeria’s diplomacy under his leadership.
He was led by the power of love, rather than the love of power, as evident from the fact that he never craved political office. Power came to him because of his character. Those who knew him reported that he had only one motive for being in office – service. He will be greatly missed.
May his soul rest in peace and may Almighty Allah grant him al-janna Firdaus.
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has expressed sadness over the death of the first elected President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari who he described as the last of the First and Second Republic titans.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Ilorin, described the late Shagari as a man of peace who dedicated the greater part of his life to the service of the fatherland.
He 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.”
“My family and I join the entire nation to mourn the passing of former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who led our nation during the Second Republic. He was a quintessential public servant; having served in seven cabinet positions and as a legislator. He was the first elected President who was Chief Executive of the country. He dedicated his best years in the service of our nation and its people and will be dearly missed.
“He was a man who worked for the unity of Nigeria and stabilized the country during the 50 months of the Second Republic despite the challenges of the then new presidential system of government operated by the country. Since his exit from power, he has remained a silent beacon of strength for the country”, the Senate President stated.
He prayed Allah to grant the soul of the late former President a place among the righteous ones in Aljannah Firdaus and his family, loved ones and the entire country the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
House Speaker Yakubu Dogara
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has mourned former president , Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari.
In a condolence message to Nigerians, the Speaker stated that the former president was a true democrat and an icon of transparency.
“We have lost a father, man of peace, true 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.
“President Shagari led Nigeria with dignity and honour and respected the independence of the legislature and judiciary in the second republic under the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
He was a bridge builder and one of the major highlights of his presidency was the alliance he formed between the NPN and the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) in accordance with his politics of give and take.
“His demise is a big loss to Nigeria and all lovers of democracy on the African continent.
“When anti-democratic forces truncated his government, President Shagari took it in good faith and continued to play the role of an elder statesman and father without grudge or bitterness.
“His death came at a time we are in dire need of his elderly wisdom and counsel as we navigate the most challenging pace as a nation.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to his immediate family, especially his eldest son, Hon Aminu Shagari, who is our colleague in the House of Representatives, the people of Sokoto state, the Sultanate Council and government of Sokoto over this irreparable loss.
May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has expressed deep grief over the passing on of the Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
Ekweremadu described the death as “a heavy loss to the nation”, noting that the late politician was a “sage, democrat, and statesman”.
Writing on his social media handles @iamekweremadu, the Senator said: “I received with a heavy heart the news of the passing on the Second Republic President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
“He was a democrat by nature, orientation, and conviction. He was a patriot per excellence, a detribalised elder statesman, bridge-builder, servant-leader, and an epitome of humility, who served the nation and humanity most creditably. In and out of office, Alhaji Shagari clothed the Office of the President with decorum and social grace”.
Senator Ekweremadu said although the late elder statesman lived to a ripe age of 93, “his wealth of experience and treasury of wisdom would still have been most invaluable in our quest to build the Nigeria of our dreams”.
“I, therefore, send heartfelt condolences to his family, the Government and good people of Sokoto State, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the nation over this irreparable loss. May God grant his soul eternal repose”, he concluded.
Senator David Mark
Former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark has described the demise of Nigeria’s former President, Alhaji Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari as a huge loss to the nation.
Reacting to the death of the elder statesman , Senator Mark noted that Shagari’s death has created a vacuum that would be difficult to fill.
Senator Mark remarked that late Shagari was a rare leader who believed in the sanctity of one indivisible Nigeria that must not be compromised no matter the odds.
“He worked for the peace and unity of Nigeria. He was a man with a large heart and was ever conscious about the well being and welfare of the citizenry”, Senator Mark stated.
The former Senate President added that Shagari demonstrated uncommon leadership skill during his stint as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , pointing that he ensured fairness and equity in the distribution of amenities across the country .
Even after he left office, Senator Mark pointed out that Shagari continued to offer useful advice to younger generation of leaders all in the bid to ensure a better Nigeria.
He lamented that Shagari left at a critical time when the nation needed his wisdom and knowledge to navigate through the murky political waters in the land.
Senator Mark however urged Nigerians especially the government and people of Sokoto state to take solace in the fact that the late President left his indelible foot print on the sand of time.