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Buhari, Jonathan, Saraki, others mourn as Shagari dies at 93


Former President  Shehu Shagari    died  on Friday at the National Hospital in  Abuja at the age of 93.



He was  President  from 1979 to 1983.



His grandson, Bello Shagari, announced the passing of his grandfather  on his  Twitter handle @Belshagy at 7.04pm on Friday.



He wrote, “I regret announcing the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari. He  died  after a brief illness at the National Hospital, Abuja.”



The Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, also confirmed the death  of  the elder statesman on his Twitter handle.



Tambuwal wrote, “I regret to announce the death of former President Shehu Shagari who just passed away at National Hospital Abuja. May his Soul Rest in Peace.”



Eminent Nigerians and political leaders including President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki and some state governors have described the late president as a political icon.



Buhari thanked God for keeping Shagari to live out a life of fulfillment in service to his fatherland.



In a condolence message issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Friday, Buhari said the Federal Government would miss Shagari dearly for his wise counsel.



“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”, the condolence message reads partly.



On his verified Twitter handle, Saraki described the deceased as a distinguished public servant.



Saraki wrote, “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.



“President Shagari was a quintessential public servant, having served in seven cabinet positions and as a legislator. He dedicated his best years to serve our nation and its people.”



Former President Goodluck Jonathan also condoled with  the family of Shagari, noting that the deceased was a patriot who placed service to humanity and fatherland above personal interest.



In a statement by Ikechukwu Eze, the former President’s spokesman, 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 indeed 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.



A former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described Shagari as a statesman, patriot and political stabiliser who served the country well in different capacities.



He said Shagari who entered politics in 1951 served the country in different capacities and served well.



Tinubu, in a statement by his Media Office signed by Tunde Rahman, said, “He served Nigeria in different capacities -administrator, provincial secretary, House of Representatives member, minister in several ministries and president- and in each capacity he did excellently well. He contributed his quota to the growth and development of the country.



The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, and his Ogun State counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, described the late elder statesman as an exceptional public officer who played an active role in the development of Nigeria.



The late former President was born in 1925 into the family of Aliyu and Mariamu in Shagari village, which was founded by his great-grandfather, Ahmadu Rufa’i.



Rufa’I, who was also the village head, took the name Shagari as his family name.



Shagari started his education in a quranic school and then lived with his relatives in a nearby town, where, between 1931 and 1935, he attended Yabo Elementary School.



Between 1936 and 1940 he went to Sokoto  to attend a middle school and later attended Kaduna College from 1941-1944.



Between 1944 and 1952 he attended the Teacher Training College (now National Teachers’ Institute) in Zaria, Kaduna State. He  worked as a visiting teacher in Sokoto Province from 1953 to 1958.



The late Shagari began his political career in 1951 when he became the Secretary of the Northern People’s Congress in Sokoto, a position he held until 1956.



He was also a member of the Federal Scholarship Board from 1954 to 1958 and was a federal commissioner.



Shagari was made the Turaki of the Fula Sokoto Caliphate in 1962 by the Sultan of Sokoto, Siddiq Abubakar III.



He worked as a teacher for a brief period before entering politics in 1951 and, in 1954, he was elected to the Federal House of Representatives, representing Sokoto West.



In 1958, he was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary, a post he left in 1959 for former Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.



The deceased  later served as the Federal Minister of  Commerce and Industries.



Between 1959 and 1960, he was made the Federal Minister  of  Economic Development and between 1960 and 1962 he was moved to the Pensions Ministry as the Federal Minister of  Pensions.



From 1962 to 1965, Shagari became the Federal Minister of Internal Affairs and was the Federal Minister of Works from 1965 up until the first military coup in January 1966.



He was appointed the Secretary  of  the  Sokoto Province Education Development Fund in 1967 and served as Commissioner for Establishments  from 1968 to 1969.



Shagari was appointed by a former military Head of State,  Yakubu Gowon,  as the Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.



In 1979, General Olusegun Obasanjo, who was then the military Head of State, handed over to Shagari, after he (Shagari) won the presidential election under the  banner of the National Party of Nigeria. He  was in office  until his government was overthrown in a military coup  on  December  31, 1983.  Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari, who is now the incumbent President, took over from him.



He was a Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic.
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