The governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano has showered encomiums on the late ex-President Shehu Shagari for his patriotism,which benefitted Anambra hugely.
Ex-President Shehu Shagari died on Friday, December 28 and was buried on Saturday, according to Islamic rites in his village, Shagari in Sokoto State.
According to Obiano in a tribute signed by his Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, “Ex President Shagari put his emphasis on meritocracy and he found Ndi-Anambra as devoted compatriots to help him carry out his vision.
“It took the gumption of the former president to nominate the hugely cerebral Anambra son, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, as his Vice-President. He refused to bend the knee to negativists who raised unnecessary issues about not trusting any person from the other divide of the unfortunate civil war with state power.
“Ex President Shagari worked effectively with Dr Ekwueme to give Nigeria a participatory democracy that accommodated all sections of the vast country from 1979 to 1983. Shagari’s belief in Ekwueme’s led to his re-nomination of the renowned architect, historian, town planner, sociologist and philosopher for the second tenure, which they won before the military tragically truncated democratic rule.
“But for the military coup, Shagari had placed Ekwueme on the saddle to succeed him as Presdent, which would have effectively put an end to the marginalization agitations following the civil war.
Alhaji Shehu’s insistence on excellence also led to his appointment of a number of gifted Anambra indigenes into key public office.
“An example is Dr Fidelis Ezemenari, who was made the founding CEO of the landmark Ajaokuta Steel Complex. It’s so sad that the giant strides made in the steel drive got lost entirely in the mire of military legerdemain.
“In the education sector, former President Shagari led the charge in converting the College of Arts and Science at Oko in Anambra State to a Federal Polytechnic. He authorized the provision of requisite infrastructure to make education quite qualitative in line with the dreams of Ndi-Anambra and other Nigerians.
“It cannot be forgotten that the fallen Nigerian leader was responsible for initiating the use of primary school enrolment as a criterion for allocating national resources, a move that benefitted Anambra State and the nation, greatly.
“To crown his efforts as a Nigerian nationalist, ex President Shagari granted pardon to not just General Yakubu Gowon who was living in exile in the United Kingdom following charges of complicity in the bloody February 3, 1976, coup attempt, but also to the erstwhile leader of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who was living in exile in Cote d’Ivoire for his role in the Biafran Revolution..
“This was a watershed exercise central to national reconciliation. Anambra State and indeed patriotic Nigerians cannot thank Shagari enough for this courageous feat.
“The love of Shagari and Anambra State was mutual. Nigeria’s first president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, led his Nigeria People’s Party (NPP) into a working accord with Shagari’s National Party of Nigeria (NPN) to steady the ship of state of Nigeria’s then nascent democracy in 1979.
“Shagari led a memorable life and passed on at the ripe age of 93, just a year after his VP Ekwueme died. Ndi-Anambra mourn and celebrate our great friend Shagari deeply.
“Adieu, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari, the first Executive President of Nigeria and an ardent lover of Ndi-Anambra.