Buhari, others mourn as HID Awolowo dies at 99

By Ajani Okanlawon

HID AwolowoPresident Muhammadu Buhari has received with immense sadness, news of the passing away of Chief (Mrs.) Hannah Idowu Dideolu (HID) Awolowo.

The Yeye Odua died at the age of 99 at her country home in Ikenne, Ogun State on Saturday shortly after a meeting held to plan her 100th birthday.

Born November 25, 1915, the wife of the late premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was a little over two months to clocking one century.

A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina says: “On behalf of the Federal Government and people of Nigeria, President Buhari extends sincere commiserations to the children, grand children and great grand children of the ‘Jewel of Inestimable Value’ on the death of their famed matriarch, just a few weeks before her hundredth birthday.

“The President joins them and millions of admirers of her late, revered husband, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in mourning Chief (Mrs.) Awolowo who will be long remembered and celebrated as the famous spouse and pillar of strength of the late nationalist, political leader and sage.

“President Buhari believes that Chief (Mrs.) Awolowo will always be honoured too for the indelible legacy of very significant, behind-the-scene contributions to communal, state, regional and national development which she has left behind.

“The President prays that God will comfort Chief (Mrs.) Awolowo’s family, relatives, friends, associates and admirers, and grant them the fortitude to bear her irreparable loss.

“He also prays that the Almighty will receive the late matriarch’s worthy soul and grant her eternal rest from her long, earthly service to her renowned spouse, family, community and country.”

Governors Akinwunmi Ambode and Adams Oshiomhole of Lagos and Edo states respectively also expressed shock and sadness over the death of Mrs Awolowo.

Ambode in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, said he was one of her many followers looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday.

“Mama would have clocked 100 on November 25 this year. It was going to be a milestone, not just for her, but for our great country. She was the matriarch of the Awolowo family, a well respected dynasty in the history of Nigeria.

“Mama’s demise at this time is painful, especially coming at a period when Nigeria is gradually enjoying democratic bliss, which her late husband, Chief Obafemi Awolowo fought for till his death.

“We however take solace in the fact that she lived a fulfilled life. We celebrate her for what she stood for, uniting the Yoruba race for a common course and keeping her family together since the demise of her husband.

“She was the pillar behind Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s legacies. She was the backbone of the brand of progressive ideas that defined the politics of the South West in the First Republic and in subsequent Republics,” Ambode said.

The Governor prayed for the peaceful repose of her soul, urging her family to draw strength from the legacies she stood for while she was alive.

“On behalf of my family and the good people of Lagos State, I want to express our heartfelt condolence to the family of Mama Awolowo, the people of Ogun State and Nigerians on this great and irreparable loss,” he said.

Oshiomhole, in his condolence message, described the late HID Awolowo as an avatar and a “pillar of Christian propriety and fountain of humanism, who was always eager to dispense goodwill to all”.

In a letter signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Peter Okhiria, Oshiomhole, said “the Awolowo family and indeed the good people of Ogun State and Nigeria have lost a good woman, the compass of the Awolowo family, the towering figure who stood strong behind her children, an enigma who ensured that the name of Chief Obafemi Awolowo continued to ring out loud, long after his exit.

“Mama HID was a pillar of Christian propriety and fountain of humanism, always eager to dispense goodwill to all who came to her. However, much as we mourn her, we believe that she deserves to be celebrated in deserved tribute to her laudable life as a mother, devout Christian and an exemplary Nigerian.

“Although Mama was advanced in age, we appreciate the depth of the grief of her children and family, knowing how affectionately close and tightly-knitted the family is. Our hearts are with the family at this difficult period.

“I wish to convey to my brother, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and indeed the good people of Ogun State the deepest condolence of the people and Government of Edo State as well as my personal commiseration on this sad loss.

“Our consolation is the cherished memories of her worthy sojourn on earth and her indelible legacies as a wife, a mother, the ‘jewel of inestimable value’ who upheld the Awolowo family name till the end, a woman never mired in controversy, an avatar.

“I pray God to lay His consoling hand on the entire Awolowo family even as we join in prayers to our Heavenly Father to grant her soul eternal rest in His bosom.”

In his condolence message, former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, described her as a woman of charm, humility, generosity, courage, resilience, industry and vision.

According to the two-term governor, HID was so strong a personality and so magnetic impressing herself indelibly on the minds of not only her family and kinsmen but her race and the nation in general.

His words: “Kind, compassionate, strict but loving, caring and sensitive, Mama was a great humanitarian and strong believer in service to the community. Undoubtedly, she was born into a man’s world, arguably to play a man’s role.

“Mama’s support ignited the flame of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s long held visions as she was ready to spend her life side by side her husband in their patriotic, humanitarian and political dreams”.

Rather than mourn, Daniel said, “we should celebrate her life so full of love and the way we can best honour her is to pray Almighty God to grant her eternal rest and the family the strength to bear the great loss.”

HID was until her death chairperson of the African Newspapers of Nigeria, publishers of the Tribune newspaper titles.

A statement by her eldest child, Omotola Oyediran, said: “With gratitude to God for her remarkable and illustrious life, the entire Awolowo family announce the glorious home-calling of our dear Matriarch, Yeye Oodua, Hannah Idowun Dideolu Awolowo this afternoon, September 19, 2015.

“Mama died as gloriously as she lived, she spent the day in the company of her children, grand-children, great grand-children and close family members.

“She shared a precious few minutes with them when she went in to pray for them as they met to plan her centenary birthday.

“They sang her a befitting song as she came in and she continued to pray for them.

“She died a couple of hours later as she had always wished; surrounded by her children, grand children and great grand children.”

Oludolapo, wife of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,  is a grandchild of the deceased.