PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari and his predecessor Dr. Goodluck Jonathan were among the army of dignitaries who were in Sokoto yesterday to commiserate with the family of former Second Republic President Shehu Shagari.
Alhaji Shagari, who passed away on Friday at the National Hospital in Abuja, will be immortalised in due course, President Buhari said.
Dr. Jonathan was accompanied by Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, the presidential running mate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi and other PDP chieftains.
The planned immortalisation of the late president was conveyed in a letter routed through Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to the family.
The letter, read by the governor during the visit, stated: “I received the very sad news of the passing away of Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“This, indeed, is a grievous loss, which will be felt throughout Nigeria, irrespective of any difference. The late Alhaji Shagari was a landmark figure being virtually our last link to the post-independence government of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, and the first elected Executive President of Nigeria.
“Please convey to his immediate family, the government and the people of Sokoto State my heartfelt condolences on the passing away of this great statesman.
“The Federal Government will in due course institute a suitable memorial to the late former President.
“May his soul rest in peace.”
President Buhari was received in Sokoto at the airport by Tambuwal and his Kebbi State counterpart Abubakar Bagudu as well as Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and other APC leaders in the state.
He was at the Sama Road Sokoto residence of the deceased to commiserate with family members, led by the late Shagari’s eldest and district head of Shagari, Alhaji Bala Shagari, former Governor Attahiru Bafarawa, former Transport Minister Yusuf Sulaiman and traditional rulers among others.
However, the President was ushered into the sitting room of the late President where he condoled with the family members, including the deceased widows.
Buhari described the late President as a “Landmark figure”, being virtually our last link with the first independent government and the first executive elected President of Nigeria.
“The Federal Government will in due course institute a suitable memorial to the late former President. Please accept our conferences.”
Responding, eldest son of the late former President, Bala Shagari, thanked President Buhari for the visit despite his tight schedule.
Tambuwal commended the President for the condolence visit. In the same vein, special prayer was offered for the repose of the soul of the late President by Prof Shehu Galadanci.
Galadanci also prayed Allah to grant President Buhari more wisdom and strength in order to continue with the good work he has started.
Jonathan said the late Alhaji Shagari played a key role in the development of Nigeria and the democratic system.
He said: “A unique habit of the late former President, which only those who interacted with him will tell is, he was a very simple and humble man in spite of the various positions he held.
“He possessed a very clean and good heart which he showed clearly in his lifetime through various engagements and activities.
“We are mourning today, however, we are still happy because it is not easy to reach the age of 93.
“I believe he has done all the works Allah has asked him to do on earth.”
The former president urged family members of the deceased to be happy because their father impacted on all Nigerians.
Obi, who represented the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, urged Nigerians to emulate the lifestyle of the late former president for the betterment of the country.
The late Shagari’s eldest son thanked Dr. Jonathan for the visit, recalling the concern and solidarity shown by the former president when their father was ill.
The governorship candidate of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) in Zamfara State, Sen. Sa’idu Dansadau, also described Shagari’s death as a great loss to the country, Africa and the whole world at large.
Visitors who thronged the residence of the former President included a former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, among others.