The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and eminent Nigerians have described former head of state General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who would be 70 years old today, as the father of the nation’s democracy.
The chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, said at 70, General Abubakar has remained the reference point on good governance, diplomacy, and conflict resolution, not only in Nigeria but the world over.
In a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, yesterday and made available to LEADERSHIP, Governor Aliyu said the forum was proud of General Abubakar’s landmark achievements and remarkable leadership qualities, which he has wonderfully exhibited in accelerating the growth and development of Nigeria and the African continent as a whole.
Making reference to Abubakar’s dogged commitment to ethical rebirth as symbolised by the handing over of power to a democratically elected civilian government in 1999, the forum said this helped to open a new vista of hope for a dynamic and vibrant generation of Nigerians and to nation-building.
“We are equally proud of General Abubakar as our ambassador of peace beyond Niger State and Nigeria, especially his intervention as the head of the United Nations Missions to Congo Kinshasa in the year 2000, the Sudan and Chad in 2004 and the restoration of peace in those countries,” the statement added.
The forum prayed God to grant General Abubakar excellent health, courage and many more years of selfless service to Nigeria and humanity.
He is a soldier for democracy — Atiku
For his part, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar described General Abubakar as a soldier for democracy in Nigeria.
General Abdulsalami, who succeeded the late maximum ruler, General Sani Abacha, handed over the reins of government to former President Olusegun Obasanjo on May 29, 1999, after a successful conduct of democratic elections.
Atiku, in a statement issued by his media office in Abuja, said that although General Abdulsalami exhibited great valour as a general in the Nigerian army, his greatest feat as a soldier is the building of a solid foundation for democracy to flourish in Nigeria.
The former vice president, while eulogising General Abdulsalami on the occasion of his 70th birth anniversary, noted that it was not by sheer coincidence that the Fourth Republic has witnessed the longest
stretch of democratic governance in Nigeria.
“I think much of the credit for the growth of democracy in Nigeria should go to the then outgoing military government, having planted the seed of democracy in honesty and a firm commitment to nurture it,” Atiku said. “General Abdulsalami is not just a General of the Nigerian Army; he is a General for democracy in Nigeria. His greatest feat is how he successfully planted the seed of democracy in Nigeria.”