From Mathew Jwantu, Minna
Former military president General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, a.k.a Maradona, yesterday marked his 78th birthday low-key.
Only prayers from family, friends and well-wishers were heard of, MKR gathers.
The former military president looking radiant and cheerful also received prominent Nigerians mostly his former aides and childhood friends, among whom were Justice Alfa Belgore, Supreme Court Justice Musa Dattijo, Colonel Aminu Is a Kontagora, Colonel Abdulmumuni Aminu, Colonel Habibu Shuaibu, former governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu and Senator Sani Musa.
The birthday prayers were offered by both the Chief Imam of Minna central Mosque Alhaji Ibrahim Fari and the Chief Imam of Wushishi central mosque Sheikh Habibu Wushishi.
They both prayed for good health and long life for the celebrant.
General Babangida after the prayers flanked by his children Mohammed, Aminu, Aisha and Halima, and her husband cut the 78th birthday cake.
The former military president in a brief remarks expressed gratitude to God for sparing his life to see the day and also prayed for continued peace and unity of Nigeria.
He later sat in one of the sitting rooms where he received guests that came to rejoice with him.
However pressmen who were at the uphill residence to felicitate with the former military president were not allowed to ask him questions on any issue.
In the meantime the former military president has been described as a national asset that has benefited the young and the old in the country and outside.
Meanwhile, Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger has congratulated former head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida, on his 78th birthday.
A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mary Berje, in Minna described Mr Babangida as an advocate of Nigeria’s unity.
Mr Babangida, who was Nigeria’s head of state between 1985 and 1993, turned 78 on August 17.
Mr Bello said the former president remained a staunch peacemaker and dogged patriot who has remained committed to the corporate existence of the nation.
He said the elder statesman has carved a niche for himself in the annals of Nigeria’s history as an enigmatic leader among various political actors.
Mr Bello commended the former military leader for his positive disposition and outstanding contributions to the progress and development of the country and the state.
On his part, Immediate past governor of Niger state, Aliyu, made this known in Minna on Saturday in a congratulatory message to mark the 78th birthday of the former military president.
Dr Aliyu said “in and out of government General Babangida has been of immense benefits to both his immediate and distant societies” a quality he said that has endeared him to many Nigerians.
According to Aliyu, General Babangida had been offering valuable advice to both the state and national governments which has translated to delivery of dividends of democracy to the populace and good governance.
While congratulating him on his 78th birthday Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu said “Nigeria and indeed all Nigerians will continue to draw from your fountain of knowledge to make the society a better place to live in”.
He also challenged other Nigerians in the category of General Babangida “to emulate his good virtues so that posterity will have positive stories to write about them”.
Also in a 78th birthday congratulatory message the senator representing Niger east senatorial zone Senator Sani Musa described General Babangida ” as a bridge builder, a nation builder, peace maker and nationalist” who has continued to “champion the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria”.
Sani Musa in the message also said that General Babangida “has remained an inspiration to many, especially young politicians who continue to draw inspiration from his leadership qualities and charisma.
“General Babangida is indeed a leader whose influence traverses the shores of Nigeria, While he was the president he played a great role in the unity of Africa
“We are proud of him, and will continue to celebrate his iconic leadership and lifestyle,” Senator Sani Musa said.