By Nwangwu Uba
At long last, President Muhammadu Buhari, of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, appears to have taken the steps which he ought to have taken when he was notified about the death of former President Shehu Shagari, at the National Hospital, Abuja, by Aminu Tambuwal, the governor of Sokoto state and the family, a few hours after it happened on Friday, December 28, 2018.
Buhari may have realised the political miscalculation of sending Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Federal Government, to represent him at the burial of the late President, 29th of December 2018, that he flew to the state on Sunday, 30th of December 2018 to condole Tambuwal, the state governor and Shagari family over the passing away of the country’s first elected President, described as” almost the last link between the first generation political leaders and the present generation of leaders” of the country.
Many believe that the visit could have gathered political weight if he had made the announcement of the death of the former President or showed up at the burial in his family House in Shagari local government Area, of the state during the burial to make the policy statement on plans to honour him.
As a prelude of showing his last respect to the President, he was said to have ordered that the Nigerian flag should fly at half mast throughout the country. The Statement which was said to have been signed by him and made public by Femi Adesina, a Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity. The Statement quoted the President as having said that since he came to understand the type of person the late Shagari was during their interaction at the council of state meetings over the tears, he had great respect for him. This is an indication that he may have realised the mistakes of being a beneficiary of the military Coup which overthrew his government and putting him under house arrest on December 31, 1983.
Recall that in his flag off Campaign for the 2019, Presidential election in Uyo, Akwa
Buhari, a born again Democrat had repeatedly said, that ”over the years, through interraction at the council of state meetings ,he and I, came to understand and appreciate each other”, notwithstanding, ”whatever the differences we may have had in the past”’. Describing the former President as a man of many parts: teacher, local authority administrator, politician minister and finally President, the Kastina state born president said ”he served the country with dedication and moderation”, which may have informed the reason why he decided to honor him.
He may have taken a cue from President Donald Trump of the United states, US, who had ordered all the country flags to be flown at half-staff for 30 days to honour former late President George Bush, Snr.
Government officials throughout the country were said to have complied with the directive immediately in their respective offices but the ones who could not do it because the directive fell on the weekend were said to have done so on Monday, December 31, 2018.
He may have won himself back to the people of the state when he promised that the government will in due course institute a suitable memorial for the immortalisation of the late former President Shagari. It could not be ascertained the nature of the immortalisation for the” landmark figure”, no thanks to Buhari.
There are indications that he may likely hand over the responsibility to a Committee which may be Chaired by Mustapha, the Secretary to the government to discuss and make their recommendations on how the late President should be immortalised.
The PDP, however, appears to have told the President that there was no basis for a Committee to be set up to decide on such a sensitive matter which could be handled by him, confirming the speculations making the rounds that he cannot take any major decision without the two or three powerful people , who allegedly constitute the cabal in the Presidency.
The Opposition PDP said there are many” national institutions”, which one of them could be named after him without further delay or giving the Mustapha Committee to decide on. The party maintained that the late Shagari made ”immeasurable sacrifices for the development , unity and stability of the nation”, and therefore deserved to be honoured”.
Presidency sources told The Value News that the Katsina born President may not want to be pushed to the wall by the PDP or any individual to rush to honor the late President but work at his own pace to do something that people would appreciate and commend the government for taking such a decision that would stand the test of time.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan,accompanied by Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP, who were at Sokoto last Sunday to Commiserate with the family were said to have been received at the Sultan Sadiq Abubakar III, International Airport, Sokoto, by Tambuwal, the state governor and other government dignatories. They were said to have headed to the late President’ house to commiserate with the mourning family.
Jonathan, who described the former late President as a ‘unifier’, corroborated the views of President Buhari about him. One thing unique about the late former President was that those who have interacted with him knew that ” in spite of the serious political positions he had held in government, he was very simple and a humble man”
Obi,on his part, recalled that the decision by the late former President to pick Alex Ekwueme, an Architect and indigene of Anambra state, some forty years ago as his running mate in the defunct National Party of Nigeria, NPN, was something the people of the state could not forget. The PDP Vice Presidential Candidate noted that both for late Shagari , the” south east could never have had any opportunity of being part of the executive arm of the government at the Federal level”.