It is always hard for us to get used to death as ultimate and final abode one day. But for every death that occurred, we quickly mourn and showered tributes to the deceased and prayed for the repose of his soul.
For Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari (Turakin Sokoto) and former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that made his journey to the other world on Friday 28th December 2018, it was indeed a death that affect Nigeria and Nigerians and to a great extent democrats all over the world.
The death of Malam (as Shagari uniquely called within the family circle) is a great loss of a man of humility and leader that led exemplary attitudes of governance of our nation.
My direct contact with late Shehu Shagari was in Germany in May 2002 at Wiesbaden near Frankfurt where he was undergoing rehabilitation after twelve hours heart surgery that almost terminated his life due to complications as a result of burst of one of the artery. I remember vividly a seventy year old heart surgeon was rushed from Munich to Wiesbaden to save the life of President Shagari. Closely concerned was the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who intermittently called through my late friend Abdurrahman Shehu Shagari to monitor the development. At the end Shagari recovered but lost his voice for almost two weeks . One day, President Obasanjo called and heard the voice of President Shagari answering, I guess at that time, Obasanjo got a sign of relieve. The rest is history, today President Shehu Shagari Shagari has joined our ancestors.
During those period of President Shagari rehabilitation at Wiesbaden, I use to travel from Cologne to visit him and also took along our local food ‘masa’, ‘kanun tsamiya’ and sometimes ‘Tuwo da miyan kuka’ which he likes most. Some days if my duties at DW-radio are tight, my wife travel from Cologne to Wiesbaden and deliver our local delicacies to our first democratically elected president.
As part of his humbleness, President Shagari wrote an appreciation letter signed personally to me through Malam Baba Wakil of Nigerian embassy in Berlin. This letter to me is worth more than a diamond from a person of humbled background as teacher, a technocrat and President of the largest black race on earth. Adieu Shehu Shagari.
By: Zubair Abdurra’uf idris (Danmasanin Birnin-Gwari)
Shagari was born in the northern Shagari village founded by his great-grandfather, Ahmadu Rufa’i, who was also the Village Head and took the name Shagari as his family name.
With his great wealth of experience in service, Shagari served seven times in a ministerial or cabinet post as a federal minister and as federal commissioner from 1958–1975.
In 1954 Shagari was elected into his first public office as a member of the federal House of Representative for Sokoto west. In 1958, Shagari was appointed as parliamentary secretary (he left the post in 1959) to the Nigerian Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and that year he also served as the Federal Minister for Commerce and Industries.
From 1959-1960, Shagari was redeployed to the ministry for economic development, as the Federal Minister for Economic Development.
In 1960-1962, he was moved to the Pensions ministry as the Federal Minister for Pensions. From 1962-1965, Shagari was made the Federal minister for internal affairs. From 1965 up until the first military coup in January 1966, Shagari was the Federal Minister for works.
In 1967 he was appointed as the secretary for Sokoto province education development fund. From 1968-1969, Shagari was given a state position in the North Western State as commissioner for establishments.
After the Nigerian civil war, from 1970-1971, Shagari was appointed by the military head of state General Yakubu Gowon as the federal commissioner for economic development, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
From 1971-75 he served as the Federal commissioner (a position now called minister) of finance. During his tenure as the commissioner of finance for Nigeria, Shagari was also a governor for the World Bank and a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) committee of twenty.