PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
BEING TEXT OF A SPEECH
THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
SENATOR (DR.) ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON
GUEST OF HONOUR
ON THE OCCASION OF THE
60TH BIRTHDAY & LAUNCHING OF A BIOGRAPHY
BRIG-GENERAL JOHN NANZIP SHAGAYA (RTD)
THIS DAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2002.
I want to thank the organisers of this event for the privilege extended to me to grace this occasion as Guest of Honour. This, to me, is an honour which I am indeed very appreciative.
We are gathered here to felicitate with our friend, brother, uncle and father on the occasion of his 60 birthday anniversary. We have also gathered to witness the public presentation and official launching of a biography – The Quintessential Patriot – a well researched compendium on the life, times, thoughts and philosophies of one of Nigeria’s most outstanding patriots, Brig. General John Nanzip Shagaya (Rtd), the Dan Buram Langtang II.
I must say that I have not had a personal relationship with General Shagaya but as someone who has followed and admired his successful career, I am convinced that at 60 years of age, our host has contributed to the development of this country far more than many of his generation. Little wonder therefore, the calibre of audience that have gathered here tonight to celebrate with him.
Let me also note at this juncture that even though you have received many congratulatory birthday messages before this hour, you should please reserve a space for my own congratulatory message. Because, to me, the attainment of sixty years of age at a time mortality rate is unimaginably high is one of the most precious gifts from God. Therefore on behalf of my colleagues and honourable members of the House of Representatives, I wish you many, many years ahead. Happy Birthday!
Ladies and Gentlemen, as we celebrate with this great patriot from Langtang, Plateau State, I wish to recall the thoughts of one of the most scholarly and gifted Nigerian soldiers, the dynamic General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on Shagaya: “Shagaya stood out clearly among his peers that he immediately recognised whom we were. Secondly, he was well informed. So you could easily pick him amongst his colleagues and other soldiers because of his knowledge and his brightness. He never wasted time to show the entire officers that he was a serious minded officer”
These are the attributes of our host. An accomplished soldier, an astute administrator and businessman and now a politician. It is indeed my utmost desire that my dear friend and brother, General Shagaya, will bring these virtues to bear on his political life.
I want to say most sincerely that I share the ideals and thoughts of General Shagaya on proper prison reforms which he pursued vigorously while serving as Internal Affairs Minister from 1985 to 1989 but I am particularly challenged by his thought on political stability and how to achieve it. He once said and I quote: “Every Nigerian must join hands to move the nation forward. We must all work at enhancing those conditions that will make for a peaceful, prosperous, stronger and more united nation. This is only achievable in an atmosphere of mutual trust, understanding and respect”. I agree with you.
Perhaps, I should add that in achieving political stability, certain basic values
namely respect for the rule of law and separation of powers must not only be
pursued, but must be imbibed and propagated. All these cannot be achieved unless we adhere strictly to the process of democratisation. And this, to me, is the greatest challenge before us today, that is, how do we ensure speedy democratisation of the various structures of democracy in our country. I have said this several times on different occasions and at various fora that the Nigerian scenario today is that of a country that has achieved democracy but whose democratisation process is very, very slow. I have also said that without democratisation, good governance will be elusive. And I have described democratisation as a process whereby basic institutions of democracy are not only created but are also strengthened and allowed to function. Such processes, in addition, ensure that basic democracy cultures are cultivated and imbibed.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate a life of excellence, I want to urge us to think more about this democracy and how to sustain it. We must learn to place the nation above self, above ethnic sentiments and above personal grudges. These are the ideals that our dear General Shagaya lives and stands for. And it behoves on us to give them more meaning by applying them to our lives.
I thank you all.