Professor Pat Utomi has said that while the late ex-President Shehu Shagari was in office, he always stepped outside to smoke.
According to Utomi, the late ex-President who was a stoic smoker, regardless of his addiction, revered the office of the President and never took a smoke inside it.
Professor Utomi who served during the Shagari administration disclosed this on Monday, at a conference tagged “Never Again Conference’, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s Civil War, in which he described Shagari “as a true nationalist.”
“I somehow got lucky, a young fellow coming back from graduate school, thinking he could change the world and then I got identified by the Vice-President (the late Alex Ekwueme) and one day he says to me, ‘President Shagari, yesterday, approved for you to replace Prof Odenigwe’. I said, ‘what does that mean?’ And I ended up in government.
“From my office at Dodan Barracks. Most of us don’t remember, but President Shagari was a chain smoker, but he never smoked in public and he respected the Office of the President so much that he never smoked inside that office.
“To smoke, President Shagari would come out – to smoke. And I would come out; and Aba Dabu and I would corner him and start chatting him up. And I saw a true nationalist in that man, that history and the newspapers probably will not capture enough.”