Sheu Shagari: Saint and sinner?

Lasun Alagbe
A day after the death of former President Sheu Shagari, tongues have started wagging over his place in history.
In recent times, more Nigerians have been defying the logic that you don’t query a man in death. The continued misrule on one hand, and the licence offered by the social media, on the other, now provoke people to ask unusual questions.
Among other posers, for instance, Lagos-based lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, has undertaken a deep excursion into history, trying to establish the good and the bad of Shagari. Like some other people have observed, Ogunye sees in the late head of state, a modest and honest man who, however, surrounded himself with several corrupt aides – ministers especially. He recalls the corrupt adventures of the likes of the late Umaru Dikko and Adisa Akinloye.
Some commentators have given Ogunye kudos, while some insist the dead should be left alone. But, in the critical tribute he titles SHEU SHAGARI: A GOOD MAN BUT A BAD LEADER,  he insists that facts must always be established so that the living can learn from the (mis)adventures of the departed.
In another case, a journalist and critic, Afolabi Gambari, earned mixed reactions when he, on Facebook, saluted Shagari as a statesman worthy of emulation. To some people, the memory of the deceased does not deserve such a 100 per cent adulation. One of them recalled the electoral malady perpetrated by his government in 1983 – the way Ogunye also did.
The fact is that the argument will linger for a long time and will always come back whenever Nigerian leaders are being discussed. Many will not pardon Shagari for, arguably, laying the foundation for the economic hazard on which the military built nothing but disaster. Indeed, it will be very interesting to hear what the powers that overthrew his government them will say about him now.
Well,  no matter how hard you hit Shagari, call him a saint and a sinner, you still recall that he never exported crude oil only to import petrol; and the naira that became more or less a chaff during successive regimes, until it now exchanges for some 365 to a dollar, was less than a naira to the dollar as of the time he was being booted out in 1983.
Rest well, Shagari, the sinner but the saint of Nigerian politics.
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