During the 90th birthday celebrations of Nigeria’s Second Republic president, Alhaji Shehu Usman Shagari, attended by President Goodluck Jonathan and five former Nigerian leaders, General Ibarahim Babaginda says Shagari was warned that he was a serial coupist.
General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida recalled how Alhaji Shagari ignored a piece of advice that he be kicked out of the military for being a serial coup plotter.
On December 31, 1983, Shagari was overthrown by a military junta of which Babangida and Major General Muhammadu Buhari, who is the current presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), were key members. Buhari then headed the military government that replaced Shagari.
Babangida became the Chief of Army Staff of the junta and on August 27, 1985, led another military coup that ousted Buhari.
Babangida said Shagari’s kindness was the reason he attained the position of general in the army and subsequently became head of state.
He recalled that while in office Shagari rejected a recommendation that he be kicked out of the military .
“In 1979, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was advised that I should be kicked out of the Nigeria Army, the reason being that I was involved in all the coups in this country, so I shouldn’t be there. But Alhaji Shehu Shagari said no. Therefore, I want to specially thank him at his 90th birthday for allowing me to rise up to the rank of a General, and to become the Chief of Army staff and subsequently a Military president”. Babangida is quoted as saying by Daily Times.
In his speech, President Jonathan recalled that he was an undergraduate when Shagari was president, noting that the elder statesman was a role model for all Nigerians.
“It is not easy to endure 90 winters, especially in a country that attaining 50 is not even easy. Even at the age of 90, Alhaji Shehu Shagari is still very, very committed to contributing his quota to the development of Nigeria,” Jonathan observed.
Looking at the faces around the celebrant, President Jonathan admitted that he was happy because of the unity and love for the country among her past leaders.
“I am happy because in Nigeria, former Head of States come together. One of my happiest days was when all the Head of States attended the council of states meeting,” he said.
The celebrations was attended by various head of states in Nigeria on Wednesday in Sokoto. See photos from the event HERE.