Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari yesterday declared that but for his death, late Nigerian Head of State General Murtala Muhammed would have restored the country to a position of greatness.
Murtala Muhammed Wanted to Restore Nigeria to a Position of Greatness ~ Muhammadu Buhari says
Murtala Mohammed, Nigeria’s Former Head Of State, Assassinated on February 13, 1976.
President Buhari, while extolling the virtues of the late Head of State who was assassinated in 1976, challenged Nigerians on the need to always demonstrate the qualities of loyalty, honesty and determination to make Nigeria better as demonstrated by late Murtala.
President Buhari noted that the country mourned the death of Murtala because he was on his way to putting Nigeria back to the path of order and discipline, after years of drift, corruption and near despair.
Speaking at the General Murtala 40th Memorial Lecture which held in Abuja, President Buhari said Nigerians, irrespective of their age brackets, should always exhibit the good virtues of General Mural rather than mourn his death.
“The country mourned, and rightly so, because Murtala had been on his way to putting Nigeria back to the path of order and discipline, after years of drift, corruption and near despair.
“It would not be overstating the case to say that Nigeria lost its newly- found momentum with Murtala’s demise” he stressed. According to him, Murtala’s motto was to get the job done as quickly as possible, saying that no one could doubt his inspirational qualities or call into question his love and dedication in the service of Nigeria.
We are here to honour a national hero and patriot, not to mourn him, and to take a few lessons from his achievements, his love for Nigeria and Nigerians, from wherever they came; his intense professionalism; his impatience with incompetence and lack of patriotism; his loyalty to friends and colleagues. His life, short though it proved to be, was marked by an extraordinary passion, energy and determination to do better, and to make Nigeria better.
These are values that young and old alike should all remember and celebrate,’’ he said. On assuming the role of Head of State in 1975, Murtala set out with a single-minded determination seldom seen in Nigerian leadership. Decisions were on fasttrack. President Buhari also stated that two major developments were prominent among Murtala Muhammed’s legacies and these included the move of the capital to Abuja from Lagos and the creations of seven new States to make.
The President, who noted that late Murtala was his senior in Army, said he developed a great liking and respect for him on account of his professional excellence, competence, straight forwardness and genuine interest and concern for up-and-coming officers like him. According to him, Murtala’s motto was to get the job done as quickly as possible, saying that no one could doubt his inspirational qualities or call into question his love and dedication in the service of Nigeria.
“Of course, no one is without flaws. He was a man in a hurry, and sometimes this could make him appear abrupt or even moody. But what he could not tolerate was incompetence and idleness.
“By the time Murtala was given Command during the Civil War, the Federal side was on the defensive. The rebels had over-ran the then Mid-West, and reached as far as Ore, just 100 miles from Lagos.
“By dint of sheer bravery, improvisation and resourcefulness, he mustered a rag-tag group of soldiers, integrated them into an entirely new division, knocked them into fighting shape, recovered Mid-West and ventured across the Niger. Alas, there were terrible casualties on both sides. But, Murtala’s motto was to get the job done as quickly as possible; sacrifice and loss were part of the risks of war,’’ he said.
Meanwhile the former Defence Minister, Theophilous Danjuma, who stunned the audience with a revelation concerning the coup, noted that he was listed among those to be eliminated if the coup had succeeded.
In-fact, he said Dimka and his group listed him as number three of those to be killed, but added that when they showed it to Gen. Ilyasu Bissala, the latter brought his name forward to number two, meaning he would have been the next to Murtala, who was the prime target.
His words, “That I live today is by the special grace of God. From that moment 40 years till date have been moments of emotions for me, in-fact, I have considered them as divine.”
The Executive Secretary\ CEO of the MMF, Mrs. Aisha Muhammed- Oyebode in her welcome remarks lamented the decay that set into the civil service, fraught with corruption and sheer commercialisation of public service, the vices that her father fought to a standstill in his service to the country.
But she was happy that the Buhari administration was currently waging a relentless against corruption, just like her father, challenging the President that the only he could sustain the legacies left by Muhammed was to ensure that her did not relent in the fight against graft until it was won.
Mrs. Muhammed-Oyebode, who was 12 years old when Murtala was assassinated, described her father as a zealous believer in African liberation, noting that he was a simple and radical idealist and “We are imbibing the zero tolerance for corruption and are promoting the ideal as a way of expressing our distress by the commercialisation of public service.
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