40 years after: Buhari says Murtala’s death signposts loss of Nigeria’s greatness

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that the country has lost its momentum to greatness with the assassination of a former Head of State, Late General Murtala Mohammad.


Speaking at the Murtala Muhammed 40th Memorial Lecture in Abuja, President Buhari said that the late leader was loyal and dedicated to one Nigeria.

Appraising his legacies, President Buhari tasked Nigerians to always demonstrate the virtues of loyalty, honesty and determination like Muhammad rather than mourn his death, saying doing so will make Nigeria better.

He said that Nigerians 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.


Buhari also listed two major developments among Murtala Muhammed’s legacies to include movement of the capital to Abuja from Lagos and the creations of seven new states.


Though he stated that the deceased was his senior in the Army, he said that 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.


“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.”


The Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (Rtd.), expressed great joy for being associated with the late Murtala Muhammed early in life.

He commended the efforts of the foundation and advised its leadership to embark on aggressive media campaign with a view to educating members of the public on its activities and achievements so far.


The guest speaker at the event, Mr David Richards, who spoke on the topic, ‘Regional Security and State Building: Portents and prospects.’, noted that inter-state and intra-states rivalries had continued to make the world unstable for mankind.


Richards, who is a former Chief of Staff and professional head of the British Armed Forces, therefore challenged leaders to find lasting solutions to socio-political crises across the world.


The Chief Executive officer of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, saluted President Muhammadu Buhari for embarking on the crusade against corruption in the country.


Muhammed-Oyebode also commended the efforts of the Buhari-led administration towards the fight against Boko Haram insurgency in the North Eastern states of the federation.


She was hopeful that the abducted Chibok schoolgirls would soon be rescued in view of the successes being recorded by the Nigeria Army and other security agencies in the country. 

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