Buhari owes late president an apology – Prof. Odinkalu
Nigeria’s Second Republic and first executive president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari who died on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 93 is believed to have forgiven President Muhammadu Buhari, who as a major general toppled his (Shagari’s) government in a military coup on December 31, 1983.
The late president’s eldest son, Bala said in an interview with newsmen at his late father’s residence Sokoto that Shagari died without having malice against anybody as he had forgiven all who offended him before his death.
“My father told us that he had pardoned everyone (including Buhari). Some people were alleging that he nursed some grudges against some people but this is not truth. He has forgiven everybody before his death and the only reason why he was not attending functions was because of his Ill-health as he hardly goes out for some period,” he said.
It would be recalled that shortly after the former president’s death, Buhari described Shagari as “a patriot, who served Nigeria with humility, integrity and diligence” adding that “Nigerians held him in the highest esteem even when he was out of office, until his demise, and will forever miss his wise counsels”.
Buhari, who, later on Sunday Buhari led a delegation to Shagari’s home for a condolence visit so pledged that the federal government would immortalise the late president.
“The federal government will in due course institute a suitable memorial to the late former President. May his soul rest in peace”, Buhari said.
It would be recalled that a Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had reacted to Buhari’s tribute to Shagari describing it as “insincere.”
“It’s not sincere. If you’ve contributed so much in bringing down a government and bringing down a man who had nothing to gain, even though he had poor eyesight and was in poor health – he was in his late 60s then – you cannot say, from 1984 till now, you got along well. How did you get along well?
“No matter what you say about the Shagari administration, he knew how to retire from public service quietly, with a tremendous amount of nobility and self-respect. You have to give him that.
“In terms of retirement and living a quiet life and garnering more respect, Shagari is certainly one of Nigeria’s most outstanding leaders and I certainly believe the nation will continue to mourn him appropriately.”
Meanwhile, the former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said Buhari’s condolence message would be watery without an apology.
Odinkalu said Shagari was a man of peace and forgiveness, adding that as president, he pardoned a former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who had been on exile after being implicated in the assassination of Gen. Murtala Muhammed.
He noted that Shagari also pardoned Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, the leader of the defunct Biafran Republic who was also on exile.
“I’m not holding my breath but I’d have thought that the death of President Shagari is a perfect opportunity for the man who toppled a popularly elected government on December 31, 1983 to apologise for that crime. Saying all these nice things now risks being branded insincere or cynical
“President Shagari did four remarkable things to bring the wounds of Nigeria: First he pardoned Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, 1982; he pardoned Yakubu Gowon, 1981; he pardoned Michael Okpara, 1981 and he granted Nigeria’s highest civilian honour, GCFR, to Obafemi Awolowo, 1981,” wrote Odinkalu.