1966 Coup a tragedy that births many tragedies for Nigeria – Buhari
By Abdull-Azeez Ahmed Kadir & Amos Tauna, Kaduna
President Muhammadu Buhari has described as a great tragedy the 1966 coup when Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewam Chief Samuel Akintola and others were killed and led to other tragedies that bedeviled Nigeria leading to the civil war and beyond while calling on leaders in the country to work towards uniting the country in realizing the dream of the nation’s founding fathers.
Speaking in Kaduna today at 50th anniversary commemoration of the death of late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, President Buhari noted that the country is characterised with poverty, corruption, insecurity and other social vices, stressing that the present leadership must be guided by what the founding fathers stood for.
Represented by Governor Ahmad NAsir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, Buhari said “Sir Ahmadu Bello was a colossus. He took on and discharged with considerable aplomb the immense task of governing and leading the Northern region. He was clear-eyed about the challenges confronting the region he led and he try to address them while uniting the diverse people of the area” and the institutions he established testify to his success. The circumstance of his death does not obscure the quality of leadership and service he rendered the President asserted.
“The events of January 1966 were a monumental tragedy and they set in motion other tragedies that severely battered our country. The assassination of the revered Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Okotie Eboh, Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari and several other political and military leaders pushed Nigeria to a new dangerous place which culminated in a civil war. I lived through this event as a young officer. My generation can testify that peace is an important value and that it is better to talk through our differences than come to blows” he enthused.
President Buhari enjoined leaders at various levels to work hard to serve the people and ensure the restoration of the country in all spheres of life, which according to him was the philosophy that the late Sardauna lived and died for. He noted that the late Sardauna ruled the people with confidence, justice, fairness and contributed to the overall development of not only the North but the entire country and therefore urged leaders to lead with integrity and honesty for a better society.
“Ahmadu Bello led his region with competence, integrity and fairness. He contributed to the overall development of Nigeria through his leadership by example. He did as he said and did not say one thing and did another. Ahmadu bello represented the essence of truly transformational leadership. I urge all of us with public leadership responsibilities to learn the lessons from the event of today. When you lead with honesty and integrity in the service of humanity, the society never forgets you. Even if you are killed, and even if you leave no wealth behind.
“It is our duty to unite our country, pulling together the talents of the diverse people of this land, push our country to heights that it can definitely attain. From independence to date, the world has spoken of Nigeria’s potentials, it is time to make those potentials real. To transform potentials into accomplishment, we must reverse the legacy of poverty, we must make the investments that will enable our country to use its population as an engine of growth and prosperity”
Buhari said there was the need to build skills, make plans to ensure access to capital, security and strengthen law enforcements, and “anything less amounts to paying lip service to the examples set by Sir Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory”
Speaking on the way he met the country on assumption of office, the President said “amidst the dismal state in which Nigeria was handed over to us, things are worst in certain places than in others. In a country besieged by poverty, insecurity poor infrastructure, high unemployment, declining education and poor health care indices, the people have given us as elected officials a marching order to clear the rot and make this country better and fitter to fulfil the legitimate aspiration of our people and the potentials the world as ascribed to us over fifty years. Let us embrace our responsibility, to serve our people diligently, unite the country and do our utmost to secure it and inspire our people to the feat of creativity and development. That is what Sir Ahmadu Bello did all his life. That is what you will expect all of his inheritance; the Northern State Governors to do”
He Prayed for the repose of the souls of all those killed in the 1966 coup.