Former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd) has reacted to the demise of the ex-head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.
As earlier reported on Tuesday by Naija News, Shonekan died in Lagos at the age of 85. He was said to have breathed his last at Evercare hospital, in the Lekki area of Lagos state.
In a personally signed condolence message on Tuesday, released by his media aide, Kassim Afegbua, the former Nigerian leader described Shonekan as “an uncommon patriot and one of Nigeria’s finest brains.”
IBB as he is fondly called said that Shonekan’s contributions to the economy, his investment and boost in the agricultural sector and his budget management approach will never be forgotten.
Babangida, however, expressed sadness over the death of the former Interim Head of State and prayed that God should grant him eternal rest.
He said: “The shocking news of the death of one of Nigeria’s finest brains and patriots came to me this morning with helpless awe. I hadn’t the faintest idea that Chief Ernest Shonekan would depart this sinful world too soon, even at 85.
“He was a man, a leader and an uncommon patriot who had a presence of mind and whose understanding of Nigeria was profound and remarkable. It is indeed a personal loss to me.
“Chief Ernest Shonekan was one of our cerebral minds during our time in government. He was the architect of our principle of the free-market economy which helped to open up the system for robust participation by the private sector.
“The liberalization of the economy, the investment and boost in the agricultural sector and budget management approach were part of his brainchild. I recollect very vividly how he used to give us tutorials on budget, planning and management of national resources, each time he was invited to our session.
“At each budget year, Chief Shonekan would be invited to critique our budget proposals and gave us further input to enrich the final budget. He was a man of ideas and ideals. He was prudent and preached so much about fiscal discipline.
“It was therefore timely for us to appoint him as Head of the Interim Government to help stabilize the polity at a most trying period of our country’s political evolution. He was a calm personality whose managerial skills were foretold in the way and manner he managed a lot of blue-chip companies.
“As Head of the Interim Government, he was able to consult with a broad spectrum of the Nigerian populace in charting a roadmap out of the political impasse at that time. His brilliance and meticulous interrogation of situations helped in large measure to forge ahead during the period. I owe personal gratitude to him throughout his sojourn on earth as we maintained a very robust mutual relationship after his exit from the corridors of power.
“Given the achievements we recorded during our time in government in the area of infrastructure, economy and social rebirth, I owe a word of gratitude to him for his experienced intervention in helping to dissect our policy frameworks each time we called upon him to do so.
“He was an engaging personality whose sense of patriotism was total. He was friendly and sociable. He understood the economy and made so many projections that helped us to bail the country out of the economic conundrum. We benefited from his immense knowledge, experience and brilliance.”
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