By Iyabo Lawal and Charles Coffie Gyamfi (in Ikenne)
• Yemi Osinbajo leads presidential delegation to Ikenne, Ogun State
• She drew her last breath in my arms, Tokunbo Awolowo Dosummu confirms
AS hundreds of sympathisers troop to Ikenne, the home country of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to condole with the family over the death of Chief Hannah Dideolu Awolowo, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have described her demise as a great loss to the Yoruba race and Nigeria.
The matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty, died on Saturday at the age of 99. She would have been 100 years old on November 25, 2015 (67 days’ time).
Among eminent Nigerians who were at the Awolowo family’s house at Ikenne yesterday were leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Senator Biyi Durojaiye, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola, his Ondo State counterpart, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and Chief Ebenezer Babatope. Others were Senator Gbenga Kaka, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Abba Folayiwo, Wale Osun, Iyiola Omisore, Yinka Odunmakin and Coreen Solarin.
Osinbajo led the delegation from the Presidency. In the team were Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, Babagana Kingigbe and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal.
The SGF, while delivering Buhari’s message to the family, said: “I was with the President when the Vice President broke the news of our mother’s transition and you could see from his countenance that he was disturbed. As believers, we believe death is the beginning of good things to come and we are consoled by the fact that we know our mother, our grandmother, our great grand mother, our sister, our aunt has gone to be with the Lord.
“Having reached a ripe age, we can only celebrate and thank God for her life, we are not supposed to mourn. However, we know death, no matter how old you are, is a thing of sorrow not of joy because nobody would want to lose a loved one.
“We are comforted by the fact that the deceased lived a fulfilled life. Mama fulfilled the saying that ‘behind a successful man, there is a successful, strong, courageous and bold woman,’ I think Mama was that. Mama lived an exemplary life.”
Buhari, however, expressed regret that the late matriarch did not live long enough to see the transformation the nation would witness through the current administration with the active participation of her son-in-law and grand daughter.
“Has she waited one or two years, I am sure she would have left this world a very happy woman indeed because the fulfillment of what she stood for and what her husband stood for would have finally come to fruition.”
Others, who spoke, including Osinbajo, described the deceased as a symbol of Nigeria womanhood, courageous, great mother and a great icon, who contributed much to the well being of womanhood and the nation as a whole.
Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu, one of her children, recalling how their mother passed on, said they attended a meeting in connection with her 100th birthday ceremony which was scheduled for November 25. She said that at the meeting, she (HID) was hale and hearty.
“She came in and she was praying for us, we were singing as she was praying. So it was words of prayers that she left us with and there was no sign at all that she was going to leave us.
“As we were preparing for her 100 years birthday, at that meeting, I was going through some of the letters that Papa wrote to her from prison and the accolades that he poured on her, there were many. Papa also acknowledged in the letters that mama in her own right was a powerful woman and a woman of honour.”
Asked if the deceased was going to be buried on November 25, a date scheduled for her centenary birthday, she replied: “We are looking into that. If anybody asked me if mama will not last till her centenary birthday celebration, I would have argued. I am still trying to come to terms with her loss. She drew her last breathe in my arms.
“I feel very disappointed that she was gone before her 100 years birthday celebration, I thought she would have the opportunity to witness the outpouring, accolades the people have for her and for her to know how much she means to the people.”
Jakande, a very close associate of the Awolowo family, in his brief remark stated: “For me it was a big loss, a very great loss, but I thank God for her life. I thank God for what she had achieved. I call her jewel of inestimable value. She did what everybody aspires to be. She stood by her husband. And we will miss her a great deal.”
For Osoba, former Ogun State governor: “We are celebrating mama because mama lived well and died well. We thank God for her life. I am going to miss her. I am sure mama is in heaven with papa.”
Osoba, who was a close associate of the late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his entire family said, “mama was a great cook.”
Bababtope said of the deceased: “She was the wife of our leader and mentor, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. I had quite an interesting time with mama. She was an exceptional woman, during her days in the UPN, she gave us the very best in terms of advice. She gave us all the support that we needed.”
The Vicar of Our Saviours’ Anglican Church, Ikenne – Venerable S.O. Enike, yesterday led a church delegation to the family of Awolowo.
At the end of the 22nd choir anniversary of the church, Ven. Enike told the congregation: ‘‘Irrespective of what you must have heard, we want to announce officially that Chief (Mrs.) H.I.D. Awolowo, Yeye Odua, Iya Ijo, died yesterday (Saturday). Mama and her children, great grandchildren, met around 10 a.m. She spoke at the meeting, and greeted the children and grand children. Mama took Iyan and Obe Egusi (pounded yam and Egusi (melon) soup), later she went to sleep, and passed on to glory.”
Ven. Enike added: ‘‘We thank God. We were looking for 100 years, but she died at 99 years.”
The vicar announced that former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel and the Bishop of Remo Anglican Diocese, Rt. Rev. M.O. Fape visited the family to commiserate with them. He said he saw the body of the deceased before it was taken to the morgue.
The guests were received at the Efunyela Hall by Dr. Tokunboh Dosumu and other members of Awo dynasty.
As at 2.30 p.m., hundred had signed the condolence register.
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