By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sadness over the news of the passing away of the First Executive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
President Buhari’s condolence message is contained in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Friday.
The President said: “On behalf of my family, the government and the people of Nigeria, it is with immense sadness that I received the news of the passing away of the First Executive President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari which event happened on Friday in Abuja.”
He described the death as the departure of a patriot whose life of service and humility was widely acknowledged.
President Buhari recalled part of the birthday message he (Buhari) sent to him last February when he said, “ we are enthralled and regaled with the many years of unequalled patriotism, sacrifices and contributions to national development.
“More specifically, we celebrate the role modelling qualities of integrity, diligence and humility that have been the hallmark of your visionary leadership.”
The President was grateful to God that Shagari lived to a ripe age and led an exemplary life, which he urged Nigerians of all walks of life to emulate.
“Nigerians held him in the highest esteem even when he was out of office until his demise and will forever miss his wise counsels,’’ he added.
He prayed that almighty God would comfort the family of the ex-president and all those who mourned him and will grant the soul of the former president eternal rest.
The remains of the former president, who died at the age of 93 on Friday at the National Hospital Abuja, would be transported to Sokoto for burial on Saturday according to Islamic rites.
Shagari was Nigerian president from 1979 to 1983 and won second election before being dethroned by a coup d’etat that brought in Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state.