It is not often that we have opportunity of celebrating icons that leave monumental landmarks on the sands of time of a nation. Building a nation, especially a diverse one like Nigeria, is such a herculean task that statesmen look back and urge for patience and onward match into their greater visions. It is heart bleeding when they remonstrate on what they
consider deviation or outright displacements of priorities by younger generations that inordinately tilt to wrong directions. But their counsel persists. Elders still command rallying points if they had cultivated personality of trust in sustenance of good governance that earns them enormous respect. It is a privilege history bequest to them. It is today
the place of First Executive President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, GCFR who clocks 88 years on 25 February 2013.
To the northern Nigeria he stands tall as one of the greatest teachers of his time specializing in science education, but also very active in humanities. He became instrument of campaign for education in the northern Nigeria through participation in formulation and execution of policies of the Native Authority system. The traditional institution was
made to mobilize the grassroots to appreciate combination of western education with the Islamic education. The district heads were involved in campaign for enrolment of children into formal education.
“Mallams” became an appellation of respect among the populace because of
their awe and importance in dissipation of ignorance through education – teachers that disciplined for better tomorrow. Sardaunan Sokoto, Alhaji (Sir) Ahmadu Bello, the former Premier of Northern Nigeria was in the forefront of campaign for education in the North. He recruited acolytes like former President Shehu Shagari. Sarduna was also preoccupied with
appropriate placement of Northerners into strategic employments. Former President Shehu Shagari was one of the major instruments in actualization of Sarduna’s aggressive drive by the north to become pillar of nation building.
The solid north as a philosophy meant creation of strong force that would bestride greater bargain in aggregation of the nation. Former President Shehu Shagari because of intellectual prowess and dexterity was a trusted person used by both Sir Ahmadu Bello and the late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Belawa. That confidence necessitated making Alhaji Shehu Shagari to superintend every known ministry of that era. He devoted his
life to the service of his fatherland and his people who were his primary constituents. A politician’s constituency should be of primary concern because of interest representation. That informed the former President’s declaration that a politician neglects his constituency at his own peril.
Former President Shehu Shagari lived in era of spirit of service to the people. He jettisoned personal accumulation to work for the uplift of the entire north and Nigeria. A statesman of great repute, he mainly focused on building infrastructure for education of his people. He opened up opportunities for the young northerners of that period to acquire
education anywhere in the world and return home to serve their people. He was instrumental to the free education enjoyed to date by northerners which has produced great intellectuals and captains of industry. He was a major contributor and indeed executor of policies that sharpen the northern frontier in our nation building. He shaped the destiny of the
generals that later betrayed him.
Those close to the former President attest to his consummate readership. He is known to have read popular books within a short time. He is credited to have read an entire school library within an amazing period and answer every question from the British teachers. He never believes in just signing documents but must read them carefully and thoroughly. He has written sensitive articles in journals. He has personally written a number of books including “Beckoned To Serve”. He remains a literary icon to scholars who constantly seek his guidance from time to time.
In the year 2013 it calls for sober reflections at the fairness of the overthrow of Shagari’s government in 1983. The first four years of that regime was characterized by unnecessary press war against it. Moreover, after many years of military dictatorship and aftermath of the civil war instruments of democratic governance completely collapsed. Four years could not be enough to restructure civil rule for representative government. The mistakes of the first term could have been corrected during the second tenure. The military that became impatient to sack that government entrenched monumental corruption. Whatever they accused that government of was insignificant compared to increased corruption and
displacement of priorities that followed. The Nigerian economy continued to witness unprecedented downward slide. The emerging generation can today question all the ill-treatment against the former President and his colleagues. Their epoch can now be seen as golden age. There were equal opportunities and fairness in distribution of resources. They governed in the interest of Nigerians in contradiction to the successive generation of
massive appropriation of common resources. The former President lives with Sokoto people. That he still lives a humble life is a testimony of his selfless service to the nation. The house he lives in today was constructed by the federal government. Other heads of state got similar
gesture. One thing we shall continue to speculate is whether those he devoted his entire life to protect, or make, emulate his leadership qualities, serving the masses! Maybe a few!
Conscientiously, if we are grieved about the way and manner of the demise of Sir Ahmadu Bello, we must also be at pains and remorseful of the unjust humiliation of former President Shehu Shagari by the same people he toiled all his life to shape their future in Nigeria. Betrayal is that awkward occurrence in human life. It is excruciatingly painful when experienced from trusted persons. The former President was betrayed. The ordeal
meted out to his family was acidic. We wonder if his cherished library carted away has been restored.
However, in spite of the trials and tribulations, the former First Executive president continues his selfless service to the nation. He has brokered peace between the federal legislature and the executive. He attends to every troubled spot in this country to sustain the unity of Nigeria. We continue to hive a sigh of relief that His Excellency, former President Shehu Shagari, GCFR, remains the most respected Nigerian leader today.
The former President is Turakin Sokoto. He is a Councilor in the Sultanate Council. He brings his wealth of experience to bear on the administration of the Sultanate Council, which is a custodian of our culture and tradition. The presence of such personality lends great impetus to the continuous sustenance of the importance of the great Caliphate and Islamic religion in Nigeria and West Africa. The former President is a link between the past and the present, making input to the overall governance of the nation. We pay a deserved tribute to this great icon, a nation builder. The sustenance of the unity of Nigeria once
amazed former President of Tanzania, the great teacher, Julius Nyerere. We are matching on to stardom and shall not disappoint our founding fathers in patriotism.
Turakin Sokoto is leaving a legacy of selfless and honest leadership. History will continue to remember him. The northern Nigeria will continue to relish his mentorship. Nigeria will continue to eulogize him as a man of peace and a firm believer in the nation enterprise.
We salute you, Turakin Sokoto, our father, our light, for attaining 88 years. May the Almighty Allah continue to shower you with good health.
Mohammed S. Umar
Sokoto Liberal Democrats Media Foundation (SOLID)