Recently, there was widespread outcry on the social media over the unfortunate disconnection of the house of former President Alhaji Shehu Shagari by an electricity distribution company. Many people lamented the action as well as the seeming neglect of the one-time number one family by the concerned authorities.
It is a well-known fact that the federal government is responsible for the basic needs of past presidents. Whether that also extends beyond their lifetime, by which authority and for how long, it is not sufficiently clear to the lamenting citizens, as the concerned authorities keep mute in providing the necessary information.
It is probable that these questions may likely fall within some of the gaps as regards legal provisions on the welfare of Nigeria’s past presidents after their death. In any case, the unfortunate incident may likely trigger thought and likely policy provisions to prevent future occurrence. The timely intervention by the Presidency over the matter is however commendable.
Important as the incidence and its aftermath may be, there is quite more important matter, which is supposed to engage the attention of Nigerians as regards to either conscious or unconscious neglect, the late president suffered from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
It has been the usual practice by the federal government, like elsewhere around the world, that whenever a senior citizen, like a former president dies, steps are usually taken to immortalise him. It is usually a mark of honour and appreciation for his service to the nation and humanity. The common and easiest practice has been to name certain public institutions/places after him.
It is unfortunate that more than two years after his death, the government has not done anything to immortalise him despite the promise by President Muhammadu Buhari. I believe Mr President has likely forgotten, but one must be puzzled by the insensitivity of the ministry or agency concerned, thus leading to this expensive oversight.
It was on record that after the death of late Chief Alex Ekwueme, Vice President to late Shagari, he was accorded state burial and immediately immortalised by naming a federal university after him by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. However, more than two years after the death of his boss the same administration has consciously or sub-consciously failed to take any step towards immortalising him.
If there is anything worth lamentation by the citizens, it should be this unfortunate neglect not the regular payment of electricity bill for the house of former President Shagari.
On its part, the Sokoto State Government has started doing its part by upgrading the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto to a university and retaining the name of late President Shagari (Shehu Shagari University of Education Sokoto). This is commendable.
But still, I wish to suggest that the Sokoto State Government’s House be named ‘Shehu Shagari House’. The Government should also facilitate the taking over of the Shehu Shagari World Institute for Leadership and Good Governance by the Sokoto State University, Sokoto in addition to instituting/ endowing a Professorial Chair of Political Science in the same university, in his name.
I will like to humbly suggest to the federal government to consider naming the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos and Kaduna Airport after the late president.
May Allah forgive late President Shehu Shagari his mistakes, continue to bless his family and grant him Jannatul firdaus.
Attahiru Ahmad Sifawa, Sokoto State University, Sokoto