Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has described the late Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari as a man with forbearance and forgiving spirit.
He stated this in Sokoto on Monday when he paid a condolence visit to the late president’s family. He was received on the occasion by the deceased’s eldest son, Alhaji Muhammad Bala Shagari.
Obasanjo described that late Shagari as a man of simplicity, faith in God, commitment to the father land with interest in duty.
The former president, while recalling his days in the service and closeness to late Shagari both of whom were federal commissioners of Works and Finance respectively in Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s cabinet, said Shagari was honest, transparent and a committed Nigerian.
“I had the opportunity of working with him and immediately we were kicked out of government, I was appointed Chief of Staff and had the task of helping our colleagues back to their respective places. He thanked me for making arrangement for him to get back to Sokoto.
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“Shagari should not be mourned but to be celebrated as a true, honest and sincere leader who was a nationalist to the core. Nigeria has lost a gem.”
Obasanjo further recalled how late Shagari expressed surprise when the mantle of leadership was handed to him in 1979 by a military head of state which happened to be himself.
“He was a true friend indeed not a fair weather friend. His life was an embodiment of something to celebrate. We have learnt a lot from him. If we learn the lessons of forgiveness which he taught us, Nigeria will be a good country,” said the former president.
Responding, Bala Shagari thanked Obasanjo for the condolence visit and appreciated his closeness to his late father.
Bala also recalled that Obasanjo was the man who assisted his father to build a house of his own in Abuja.
“Sir, I must say that none of us (nine children of late Shagari), has any property in Abuja if not of recent that two managed to build a house there. We are living his life style (Shagari’s).