Acting President And Other Top Personalities Pay Tribute To Murtala Muhammed
Ogheneuvede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said what Nigeria needs is a new nation where men and women are prepared to put the national enterprise first.
He stated this monday in Abuja while paying tributes to the legacies of the late Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed, during the 2017 Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture. The event was organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation (MMF), a non-governmental organisation, founded on the ideals of the late head of states.
Osinbajo, who was the special guest of honour, spoke to an audience, which had in attendance, diplomats, corporate chieftains, leading politicians, religious leaders, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and other major stakeholders in the humanitarian sector.
“What we need is a new Nigeria where men and women are prepared to put the national enterprise first. As it has been re-echoed by the earlier speakers, this is what Murtala Muhammed lived for,” the acting president stated.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who succeeded late Muhammed in office, and doubles as chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, commended his predecessor for his leadership qualities.
Obasanjo, who was instrumental to the setting up the foundation, said: “When the idea of keeping Murtala Muhammed legacies was conceived, we did not know how it will grow but it has grown under the good leadership of Mrs. Aisha Oyebode.” While delivering the keynote address at the event with the them: ‘Managing the Boko Haram Crisis in Borno State: Experiences and lessons for a multi-party, multi-ethnic and multi-religious Nigeria’, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State alleged that Ali Modu Sheriff, his predecessor, played into the hands of Boko Haram insurgents.
He blamed Sheriff for mismanaging the situation that led to the rise of Boko Haram insurgency.
According to him, “I have restrained myself from blaming the previous government for the emergence of Boko Haram, but the fact of the matter is that Ali Modu Sheriff, the former governor, allowed his ego to stand in the way of a dispute between the army and followers of Mohammed Yusuf.
“Ali Modu Sheriff mismanaged the crisis by ignoring the situation, and he played into the hands of the insurgents.” Shettima also alleged that former President, Goodluck Jonathan, did not understand the Boko Haram crisis until March 2013.
The Boko Haram crisis became intense in 2011 when Jonathan began his term as president.
He said conspiracy theories such as – Boko Haram being sponsored by the northerners to destabilise the government encumbered Jonathan from taking proactive measures to end the crisis.
”I think before President Jonathan’s fact-finding mission, he didn’t understand the Boko Haram crisis until March 2013,” he said. The governor said Boko Haram had inflicted damages of about $9 billion on the North-east, and that it would take concerted effort to rebuild the region.
The governor further implored Nigerians no to allow themselves to be used for various sectional interests.
“We must recognise that for every conspiracy theory, there is a group that stands to gain politically. Nigerians, we should free our minds and ask ourselves who stands to gain? “Let us all be vigilant and join hands to support our national government to protect lives and property.”
He described Muhammed as a great leader mostly remembered for his famous address titled “Africa has come of age’ at the Extra-Ordinary Summit of African Heads of States under the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), held in Addis Ababa, the political capital of Africa, on January 11, 1976.
The governor said the speech aptly set Africa’s independence agenda for Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe) and South Africa.
Acknowledging the guests for their solidarity to ‘’one of Nigeria’s heroes past’’, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, Aisha Oyebode said that for those that knew her father intimately while he was alive, they would agree that beyond the mien of the no nonsense military general, he was generous and kind hearten.
She said: ‘’He was more at home in the company of the masses, and understood the pain and suffering of the downtrodden, and used all the power and resources he had to fight for the weak and oppressed within and outside Nigeria.
‘’General Murtala Muhammed truly had empathy, which is why 41 years on, his sacrifice and legacy as a man of the people, is still very worthy of commemoration.
“We at the MMF believe that our theme for this year – Humanitarian Crisis and Response in a Plural State: What Role for Leadership? – is a fitting tribute to General Muhammed’s legacy. More so, this is a very relevant subject requiring careful consideration.’’
Other dignitaries at the event were the Catholic Arc Bishop of Abuja Diocese, His eminence Cardinal John Oniakan, and His Grace, Bishop Hassan Kuka, the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese.
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