Shagari: The demise of a political icon
YBTC News—On Friday, 28th, December,2018, Nigeria lost one of it’s few remaining political leaders that participated actively in setting up both the first and second republics.
The death of Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari is a big loss to Nigeria.
Shehu Usman Shagari was born on 25th February, 1925, in the northern Shagari village that was founded by his great-grandfather, Ahmadu Rufa’i, who was also the Village Head, and took the name Shagari as his family name.
Like most children in northern Nigeria, he started his education in a Quranic school and then went on to live with relatives at a nearby town, where from 1931-1935 he attended Yabo elementary school. In 1936-1940, he went to Sokoto for middle school, and then from 1941-1944 he attended Kaduna College.
Shagari as he is popularly is known, is the first executive President of Nigeria in the second republic. He emerged President under the National Party of Nigeria(NPN) after defeating strong political opponents like the first republic ‘ceremonial’ President Nnamdi Azikiwe of the then National people’s party (NPP), Obafemi Awolowo from Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) and Mallam Aminu Kano of People’s Redemption Party (PRP). In his second term, Shagari’s NPN won the 1983 general elections but was overthrown by the military government of General Muhammadu Buhari some few months after it came to power.
Before the emergence of Shagari as the President in 1979, he was several times Federal minister in the country. He was once Federal Minister for Commerce and Industry from 1958-1959, he held the position of Federal Minister for Economic development from 1959-1960.
Subsequently, during the first republic, he was Federal minister for pensions and Federal minister for Internal affairs. Before the elapse of the first republic, Shagari was appointed Federal minister for works.
The popular long capped stylist, Shagari, before his election as the President was again appointed Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction by the Military government of Yakubu Gowon, and later Federal commissioner for Finance.
His political experience was what gave him the chance to be nominated as the NPN’s flag bearer along side his vice President, Alex Ekweme who is also late few months back.
He was once a member, Federal House of Assembly representing Sokoto West in 1954.
As the President, Shagari’s housing scheme remains one of the best housing policies ever carried out in the history of the country. According to a report by Punch of 29th Dec 2018, in 1980, with the oil revenue, Shagari finished building the Kaduna refinery, which started operating that year. Also with the oil revenue, Shagari concluded the construction of an additional steel plant and three rolling mills at Ajaokuta . Shagari completed the Delta Steel complex in 1982.
Furthermore in 1983, Shagari created the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria at Ikot Abasi . However, Shagari reduced the share of oil royalties and rents to state of origin from 30 to 2 percent.
On the part of agriculture after elapse of Operation Feed the Nation by the Olusegun Obasanjo Military administration, Shagari’s government embarked on a “Green Revolution “, distributing seed and fertilliser to farmers to increase nationwide productivity in farming.
Aside from being a politician, Shagari worked as a visiting teacher at Sokoto Province. He was also a member of the Federal Scholarship Board from 1954-1958.
Shehu Shagari was a true democrat, a statesman and above all an icon that a democratic nation like Nigeria must look upto. May the soul of Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari rest in peace. Ameen.
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