President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has described former military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar as a lover, builder, friend and champion of democracy, and also as a patriot, statesman and a bridge builder.
President Jonathan stated this when he spoke on Wednesday, in Abuja at the book presentation of the times and legacy of former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar (GCFR, CGS), titled “The Liberal and Evolution to Stable Democracy in Nigeria,” written by Abdullahi Modibbo Umar.
The President, who was represented by the Vice President, Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo at the occasion, noted that the former Head of State against all odds midwife the successful return of Nigeria to democracy in 1999, saying that “little wonder, his membership of several international negotiation, mediation, peace and conflict resolution committees.”
President Jonathan who said the conduct of the 1999 elections by the former Head of State, helped usher in a democratic process which is gradually maturing by the day, also stated that “he amongst others allowed the independence of the electoral umpire, created an enabling environment for political parties to evolve through genuine participation, robust political belief and principles. This feat really placed the cynics at their proper place who postulated that no successful transition could ever be achieved.”
President Jonathan eulogised the book, stating that it chronicles the country’s journey to democracy. “I find it a rich archival and reference material for those seeking knowledge in Nigeria’s democratic journey so far,” he added.
In their separate remarks former President Shehu Shagari and former military president, Gen Ibrahim Babangida both eulogised the qualities of Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, describing him as a great Nigerian, whose name will always be embedded in Nigeria’s history.
In his remarks, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, stated that no force could ever break Nigerian, he charged Nigerians to support government to tackle all challenges, appealing to Nigerians to focus on what unites them and not what divides them. He also used the occasion to thank Nigerians for the support they gave him in steering the country into democracy.
The Author of the book Mallam Abdullahi Modibbo Umar, stated that the patriotic zeal of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, spurred him to write the book, while also appealing to Nigerians to emulate the sterling qualities of the former Head of State in all their endeavours.
Highlights of the event was a paper presentation titled “Democracy and Contemporary Challenges in Nigeria: Which Way Forward” by Barrister Solomon Dalung of the University of Jos, while the seven chapters, 604 paged book was reviewed by Dr. Muhammad Tahir Mallam of the University of Sokoto.
The event witnessed the presence of Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa of Kaduna State, former first lady, Justice Fatima Abubakar, Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, the Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umar Farouk Bahago, and several other royal fathers, associates of the former Head of State, members of his administration and top former and serving government functionaries.