Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend wrote the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnagwagwa, over the demise of former President Robert Mugabe, saying both Zimbabwe and Africa owe the deceased a debt of gratitude.
Mugabe passed on at the age of 95 on Friday in a Singaporean hospital after a protracted illness.
The president's personal letter to the Zimbabwean president, which was made available to reporters yesterday, described Mugabe as a highly intelligent and courageous leader who fought and sacrificed a lot for the liberation of his people and other Southern African countries from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid.
Buhari who said Africa had lost one of its finest sons, also described Mugabe as a pan-Africanist and true patriot who led his country to greater heights after independence until economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by western nations crippled the economy of the country.
According to him, unlike some African countries where xenophobic attacks are being carried out against other Africans, the blacks were duly accommodated in Zimbabwe after the country obtained independence.
He urged the Zimbabwean president to accept his condolences on behalf of the people and government of Nigeria.
The letter read: "It is with sadness that I learned today of the passing of Robert Mugabe, former President of Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabwe and Africa owe huge debt of gratitude to this highly intelligent and courageous leader who fought and sacrificed so much to liberate his country and free his people from minority occupation.
"He was also in the vanguard of the fight to free several countries of Southern African from apartheid and colonialism. He was a true pan-Africanist and true patriot. African has lost one of its finest sons.
"He led his country to greater heights after independence until the economic sanctions imposed by western countries on account of expropriation of land occupied by white Zimbabweans crippled his country economically.
"As we witness xenophobic attacks against Africans in African countries, it is right to recall that Africans all over the continent were made to feel at home in the newly independent Zimbabwe.
"As we join Zimbabwe to mourn the departure of the great leader, please accept on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria and my own behalf, our sincere condolences. May his soul rest in peace."