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(34): Two Years On, Remembering Shehu Shagari As A Model For Nigerian Youths.


Two Years On, Remembering Shehu Shagari As A Model For Nigerian Youths:

27th December, 2020.

While we have been busy talking about the Nigerian situation, which might be attached to many conspiracies, its so-called democracy and the ramshackle youths of today, I wonder if anyone of us had ever stopped and spared a thought for the past generations. There, Nigerian youths can find lessons from the lives of the likes of the Balewas, Awolowos, Azikwes and Shagaris, who have all gone for good.

To be direct, the former president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, to address him formally, died on 28 of December 2018 – two years ago (aged 93). From 1979, he served as president of Nigeria until 1983, during which period, he achieved a lot of things.

To cut it short, at the time Shehu Shagari was sworn-in as president of Nigeria on October 1, 1979, the current president, Muhammadu Buhari was 37, Yemi Osinbajo was 22, the same as Goodluck Jonathan. I was not even in existence then.


Shehu Shagari was always in his Hausa cap and flowing babban riga robe and was the first civilian leader to take office after 13 years of military rule from 1966. His succeeding General Olusegun Obasanjo gave rise to the Second Republic. Moreover, he was the first Nigerian leader to succeed a military regime.

That is indeed the beginning of the real Nigerian democracy, without it, we won’t be reminiscing one of those heroes of yesterday who passed.

A political scientist, Dr Pat Utomi penned this about him, “He had no blemishes on him. He was not particularly ambitious. Power was thrust upon him.”

We have now clearly seen that the records he left among Nigerians have made him unforgettable. Indeed, he was an honest gentleman.

Apart from military leadership and democracy, youths have a great role to play in politics not only during campaigns and election periods as what is happening now.

In Shagari’s life, there are lessons for the youths. Whereas today, they are taken as a means to gain power and then dumped, that has not always been the case. The youths are not docile or powerless, as contemporary Nigerian politicians tend to portray them.

Shagari, as a youth was a good example. At 21, he created a political movement in 1946, which later merged with the Northern Peoples Congress in 1948. With that movement, he made a huge impact in the region and along with the Sardauna, Ahmadu Bello, took giant strides in Nigeria’s political terrain.

Where are we youths today? We have to remember to always be inspired by patriots and inventors who had impacted positively on the cause of humanity like Shehu Shagari, who rose from a schoolteacher to president. We should not align with unpatriotic leaders, who came to politics by luck, not by their perseverance and ideals.

The failure of leadership is what is dragging us backwards. So, unless this issue of good leadership is resolved and put right, and right-minded individuals protect and advance our interest, it is difficult to see the end of our current unpleasant and disorderly state.

It was said that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We can’t make any progress when the stakeholders are not looking out for us, rather than inheriting and squandering our resources. Indeed, we can only make a move forward when we invest in the future.

Finally, I mourn the departure of a great patriot, who served Nigeria with humility, perseverance and diligence. Almost two years without him, Babanmu!

May His soul rest in perfect peace in heaven. 


Ameer Muhammad Harbo writes from Jahun, Jigawa State.

📧 ameerharbo@gmail.com

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