President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Ibrahim Babangida, former head of state, on his 78th birthday, saying the country will always look up to him for guidance.
In a statement issued by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, on Saturday, the president also thanked the former head of state for playing the role of a statesman to the country.
“On behalf of the federal executive council, my family and all Nigerians, please accept my warm felicitations on your 78th birthday,’’ he said.
“On this special day of your life, the reminiscences of your courage and invaluable service to the army in protecting the sovereignty of the country come to the fore. Thank you for the role of statesman you are playing in the affairs the nation.
“As you age gracefully, the country will continue to look up to you for guidance and wisdom. May Allah continue to increase your health and grant you the strength to give your best to your family and the nation.”
Babangida was Nigeria’s eighth head of state, who arrogated to himself the title of ‘’president’’. He came into office through a coup which sacked the regime of Buhari, then military head of state in 1985.
His regime was characterised by assassinations, notably the murder of Dele Giwa, publisher of Newswatch magazine.
He was nicknamed ‘Maradona’ for his reputed sly and cunning. On August 6, 1993, he ‘’stepped aside’’ as military president following a nationwide unrest over his annulment of the June 12 elections, which MKO Abiola is believed to have won.