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Shagari To Buhari: I Forgive You

Posted by FROM SAXONE AKHAINE, KADUNA on 2004/08/01 | Views: 2625 |

Shagari To Buhari: I Forgive You

TWENTY one years after Major-General Muhammadu Buhari sacked him from office as the Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari yesterday formally forgave the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party.

TWENTY one years after Major-General Muhammadu Buhari sacked him from office as the Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari yesterday formally forgave the presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party.

General Buhari had led the military junta that ousted Alhaji Shagari from power in December 1983.

The former President's display of largeheartedness was in Kaduna, at the weekend during the launching of his biography, 'Tarihin Shehu Shagari' written in Hausa language.

Significantly, Shagari ensured that former Heads of State, General Yakubu Gowon and Buhari, and other notable leaders were seated at the Conference Hall of the Kaduna International Trade Fair Centre before he offered his forgiveness to Buhari.

He said: "I must take this opportunity to declare that I do not in anyway hold malice to anyone, including those daring combatants who overthrew my government.

"This is simply because I am absolutely certain that no sane person would risk his own life unless and until he firmly believes in the cause he was pursuing.

"I trust that they sincerely believed that what they were doing was right and proper. There are indeed many who view it differently. However, each side, in a free country, is indeed entitled to his own opinion, period."

Alhaji Shagari, who pointed in the direction of General Buhari while making his remission, added: "Let bygones be bygones. Let us all join hands in the service of our dear fatherland, Nigeria."

Shagari's pardon for Buhari is coming in the trail of an apology demanded by Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka from former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida.

At an event in Kaduna last week, Soyinka had urged Babangida to apologise to Nigerians for annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential election that Chief MKO Abiola was poised to win, if he (Babangida) was desirous of contesting the 2007 election.

Chief Abiola, an acclaimed friend of Babangida, eventually died in prison on account of his determination to claim the mandate given to him by the electorate

Soyinka, the Nobel laureate in Literaure, himself had two weeks ago, earned an apology from former head of state, General Gowon, who had imprisoned him in 1969, following his activities during the Nigeria Civil War.

But in a shift reaction yesterday, the leader of civil society groups in the North and President of Civil Rights Congress (CRC), Malam Shehu Sani faulted the culture of apology and pardon being granted retired military Generals, whom he alleged ruined the democratic and economic foundations of the country for decades.

Malam Sani specifically criticised the apology demanded by Professor Soyinka from General Babangida, saying, "it is a general view of the Human Rights Community that on no account should any former military ruler be supported to rule Nigeria again."

Among the dignitaries at the book launch yesterday were the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Muktar Shagari, who represented President Olusegun Obasanjo; retired Brigadier-General Jafa'aru Isa, who represented the Vice President Atiku Abubakar; the Acting Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Stephen Shekari; and Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu.

Others are Alhaji Yahaya Gusau, a former Minister of Finance in the First Republic; Alhaji Ibrahim Tahir, Senator Iya Abubakar, Senator Sarkin Dalhatu Tafida; the Emir of Zauzau, Dr. Shehu Idris, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, Chief Joseph Wayas and representatives of Rivers and Bayelsa State governments.

In a goodwill message, President Obasanjo urged Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of promoting the unity of the nation, which ultimately will lead to political and economic development.

He said: "This is an eventful occasion which has brought three former Heads of State together. We have General Gowon here, who fought to keep Nigeria one; we have former President Shagari, who also served as a Minister under Gowon and had as his slogan, 'One nation, one destiny' during his administration; and we also have General Buhari, who also promoted the unity of the nation under the government.

"And with Obasanjo whom, everybody knows received the surrender-instrument after the Civil War and handed it over to Gowon, at the head of present democratic government, he will continue to promote unity and togetherness in Nigeria."

Fielding questions from journalists, Malam Sani noted that "the issue of apology, particularly that of Babangida, should have been best made at the Justice Oputa Panel. And unfortunately for him and other Generals, that opportunity was missed because they didn't see it as an important event."

Also criticising former Minister of Special Duties under the defunct Abacha government, Alhaji Wada Nas on his utterances against Obasanjo's administration, Sani remarked that "if you are to compare Obasanjo with all former military dictators, including Abacha, which Wada Nas served, I can tell you clearly that Obasanjo is more humane and democratic than all of them."

He argued that "my uncle, Nas has forgotten history, that the regime, which he served, Abacha government, hated the North most... Let him come out and say what that regime had done to the North and the country in general, which is positive."

He urged Nas to remember all the atrocities the Abacha government committed, "including the unjust murder and imprisonment of Nigerians."

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