The death has been announced of the first executive president of Nigeria, His Excellency, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
The news was reported by his grandson, Bello Shagari, via Twitter.
I regret announcing the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died right now after brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja.
— Bello Shagari (@Belshagy) December 28, 2018
Alhaji Shagari died at the age of 93 after a brief illness.
He will be remembered as Nigeria’s president in the Second Republic which began in 1979. He was later re-elected in 1983 but then overthrown by General Muhammadu Buhari during a military coup in a setback for democracy which took almost two decades to correct.
Condolence messages from Nigerians have started pouring out to his family.
President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement that Shagari’s death is “the departure of a patriot whose life of service and humility was widely acknowledged.” He expressed gratitude to God that the former president lived to a “ripe old age and led an exemplary life.”
The Senate President Bukola Saraki tweeted: “My family and I join the entire nation to mourn the passing of former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who led our nation during the Second Republic.”
Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, also stated via Twitter: “I regret to Announce the death of former President Shehu Shagari who just passed away at National Hospital Abuja. May his Soul Rest in Peace.”
PDP presidential candidate and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said in a statement that “Shagari was the specimen of a patriotic Nigerian whose life was a pattern of good works. A completely detribalised Nigerian, he served Nigeria from his youth to the evening of his life, first as a teacher and moulder of minds and later as a leader and moulder of nations.”
One Igbo thing: Atiku’s statement, while not overtly political, made reference to Shagari’s decision to name Dr. Alex Ekwueme as his running mate. “His election as the first executive president of Nigeria on October 1, 1979 brought relief to the nation and began the process of ending tribal politics, especially as he brought the Southeast into the political mainstream by naming Dr. Alex Ekwueme as his running mate,” Atiku said.
Since then, no Igbo man has been president or vice in the country, a fact which Atiku’s candidacy has the potential to change with his choice of another Anambra politican, Peter Obi as running mate.