Updated: February 24, 2021
Former Nigerian President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari is dead, his grandson, Bello Shagari said. He was 93 years old.
“I regret announcing the death of my grandfather H.E. Alhaji Shehu Shagari who died right now after brief illness at the National Hospital, Abuja,” Bello Shagari said.
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Shagari was Nigerian President between 1979 and 1983 before his government was overthrown and taken over by Muhammadu Buhari who is the current President of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari expressed great sadness at the news of the passing away of “the First Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari”.
“ 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 President said in a statement.
Mr Buhari described the death as the departure of a patriot whose life of service and humility was widely acknowledged.
President Buhari recalled part of the birthday message he (Buhari) sent to him last February when he said, “ 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.”
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said in a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA that Shagari “was the specimen of a patriotic Nigerian whose life was a pattern of good works”.
He added: “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”.
President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, also expressed sadness over his death.
He said Shagari who was the first elected President of Nigeria was “the last of the First and Second Republic titans”.
Saraki in a statement to TODAY NEWS AFRICA by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, 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.
Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said 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”.