JOURNEY TO PRESIDENCY - SHAGARI'S REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENTS BEFORE PRESIDENCY.



One Nation One Destiny is a film documentary about Africa's most populous country Nigeria, from the perspective of its first executive president, His Excellency Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari GCFR. He has been in public service since pre-independence. Although he began his career as a teacher after finishing his teacher training in what is now known to be Barewa College. He had taught the likes of Maitama Sule who later became his minister and former Sokoto State governors in the first republic Shehu Kangiwa and Garba Nadama among others. He was later a headmaster in Argungu at the request of Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardaunan Sokoto and ended the teaching career as a schools inspector.


He is the only president in Nigerian who had served and worked with every government which preceded his own since independence and completely retired from involvement into politics and businesses of all kind after he left office, and is still alive. Many Nigerians think they know him, but very few are right about that claim. When he became Nigeria's president, he was the most experienced cabinet minister of his time. He served in eight different ministerial portfolios before becoming president both in full and acting capacity. He also served at every level in government, from local to state and the federal government. Unknown to many, As a member of the parliament in the first republic, Shehu Shagari was Minister of Internal Affairs when Chief Obafemi Awolowo was detained in prison, when he was alleged with plotting to overthrow the federal government, that was when political rivalry was first conceived between the two great men. Both of whom had always been cordial with each other despite their differences. Shagari was also Parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa prior to becoming a minister.


He had also led Nigeria's delegation severally to so many important international meetings since in the first republic. In one of these meetings at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Wellington, New Zealand 1963, Shehu Shagari made a speech which he himself described to be "calm but strong speech", concerning white minority in Rhodesia (Zimabwe), a job which he was able to finish when Zimbabwe got its independence when he was president in 1982. In another visit to Libya in 1963 was his encounter with some students who were demonstrating against King Sayyid Amir Idris, among those students was Muammar Gaddafi, who later became the ruler of Libya. Col. Gaddafi made this known to Shagari when he visited Nigeria in 1982. When he was minister of works and survey in 1965, Shehu Shagari embarked on the following projects: The western avenue road and Apapa dual carriage in Lagos; Ilorin-Jebba, Kaduna-Mando, Sokoto-Gusau,Bauchi-Yola, Maiduguri Gombaru, and Onitsha-Owerri trunk roads; and a number of major bridges. He signed the first major contract in Lagos of Second Mainland bridge, otherwise known as Eko bridge, undertaken by the German firm, Julius Berger.


After the coup of 1966, Shehu Shagari returned to Sokoto where he became a founder and Executive Secretary of Sokoto Province Education Development Fund to do what he prefers, a communal and development kind of service. The fund among other things succeeded in building 102 Islamiyya Schools across the province with the aim to encourage enrollment, they were later converted to primary schools, providing both Islamic and circular education. He was later to be called upon to help in the state government, of the then North Western State, comprising of Today's Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger States, as as commissioner of Training and Establishment to help indiginise the civil service before he undertook another portfolio for Education where he made many significant contributions.


During the civil war, Shagari led the mobilization of young men to join the army and also helped raised £100,000 for "Win The War Fun" for the federal government, making Sokoto the largest contributor in Nigeria. He also was tasked by the federal government to help in enlightening the international community on the civil war. As the international community was hugely convinced by the Biafran propaganda. He travelled to France, Switzerland and Italy where he was also at the Vatican City for the same purpose.

On his return, he was invited to Lagos and appointed as the Minister of Economic Development, Reconstruction and Rehablitation , there he did a lot of work in the old Biafran territory when the war was over. He provided relief materials such as food stuffs, clothing, medication, building materials and so on. Shehu Shagari also at that time negotiated and pleaded for the release of some political prisoners of the former Biafra for the purpose of national reconciliation.


In 1971, Gen Gowon sent Shehu Shagari on a mission to East Africa to mediate between General Idi Amin and Dr. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania on a border conflict between the two countries. Shagari said in his book "I found General Amin rather a very interesting character"' he said General Amin was more prepared to accept Nigeria's mediation between the two neighbors. On his return, he was appointed Minister of finance replacing Chief Awolowo who had voluntarily resigned. That gave Shagari the privilege of launching the Naira and Kobo which replaced the British pounds. As a finance minister attending many international meetings, he met finance ministers like Helmut Schmidt of West Germany, Mr Takeo Fukuda of Japan, Junius Richard Jayewardene of Sri Lanka and Mr George Chambers of Trinidad, who all subsequently became head of states of their various countries just as himself.


After the forceful removal of Gawon from power, General Murtala Mohammed took over. General Murtala set up a committee to probe all Gowon's federal commissioners, which found only Shehu Shagari and Ali Monguno former minister of petroleum unspotted. General Murtala invited Shagari to join his government as Nigeria's High commissioner to the United Kingdom, an offer which Shagari refused, for the reason that he want to go back to serve in the Sokoto local authority and reconnect with his growing family. Shehu Shagari went back to Sokoto and became the first chairman of Sokoto State Urban Development Authority (SUDA), which began the construction of Sokoto general market which he saw finished when he became president. Some of the most celebrated activities of SUDA at that time was the "keep sokoto clean initiative", Sokoto was at that time recorded among the most cleanest cities in Nigeria.


General Murtala's government lived short and he was succeeded by Gen Olusegun Obasanjo. It was during that period that Shagari was persuaded to become the Chairman of Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Company Limited (PAN), a public private car assembly plan still in existence in Nigeria. General Obasanjo quickly set up a constitutional drafting committee and raised the ban on politics. Political parties were formed and Shagari with many others formed the NPN, the party which made him its presidential candidate against his will. He was elected, thus, becoming the first executive president of the federal republic of Nigeria under the new American system of government.


HAPPY 91ST BIRTHDAY!!!


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