Amid overwhelming glamour on the ground and a bright sky above, the matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty, Chief Hannah Idowu Dideolu(HID), yesterday made her glorious and final exit.
The remains of the late Mrs. Awolowo, who passed on last September 19 at 99, were interred beside her husband Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo’s, inside the 28 years old Awo Mausoleum within the sprawling family compound in Ikenne, Ogun State. The Awo matriach would have been 100 yesterday.
Her surviving daughters – Mrs Omotola Oyediran and Dr. Olatokunbo Awolowo – Dosunmu and a handful of relatives witnessed the interment.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon, Head of the defunct Interim National Government Chief Ernest Shonekan, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade and businessman Aliko Dangote, saw off the iconic woman and Yeye Oba.
President Buhari, who arrived the Awolowo compound at 2:18 pm, proceeded to the Efunyella Hall where he spent a few minutes with the children of the late Mrs Awolowo before heading to the mausoleum by 2:49pm to see the resting place of Mama and her husband, Pa Awolowo. He left two minutes later.
Security Operatives – soldiers, policemen, Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC) – were in their hundreds but they seemed overwhelmed by the crowd of dignitaries surging to bid Mrs Awolowo a final bye.
Earlier in the morning, her remains encased in a gold- plated casket, arrived at Our Saviour’s Church (Anglican Communion) by 9:55 am in a horse – driven cart, accompanied by six horse riders, 18 music band squads from the NSCDC, Amosun, Mrs Oyediran, Dr. Awolowo-Dosunmu, grand-children and relatives.
The church and its surroundings came alive with the sight of eminent Nigerians who had joined Mama’s family and 34 bishops for the funeral service in Ikenne just like when the late sage and first Premier of Old Western Region passed on in 1987.
The body was received into the church auditorium where Tinubu, Obasanjo, Vice President Osinbajo, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha were already seated for the funeral service as the bell rang at 9:57am.
In his sermon, Arch-Bishop, Metropolitan and Primate of Anglican Church, Nigeria, the Right Rev. Nicholas Okoh, described Mama as a great wife who stood by her husband.
Rev. Okoh said Mama had fought the good fight of faith and finished victoriously, adding that the rest she deserved now is in Christ and quite different from the worldly and ephemeral.
Eulogising her further, the Anglican Primate lauded Mama for her courage in time of adversity, saying even when she lost three of her children, she still stood firm in the Lord.
He urged Nigerians to emulate the late Mrs Awolowo’s strong heart and firm belief in God.
Dr Saraki, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the church service, described the late Mrs Awolowo as a virtuous woman who stood steadfastly behind her husband and also remained relevant since the death of Pa Awo in 1987.
Saraki enjoined the children to sustain the good name and legacies of the Awolowos.
Tinubu, who arrived in Ikenne in the company of some governors from the North, at 9:46am, said they were in the town to celebrate the worthy life of Mama HID, whom he also described as a great mother and pillar of progressive politics.
Tinubu said: “We are here to celebrate her, a wonderful mother and an icon who stood for progressive politics. She was a mother to me.
“Mama HID and my mother (Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji) were great friends. They both struggled together for the independence of Nigeria and progressive politics in this country.
“We will continue to thread on the path of progressive politics played by Mama and her husband, the late sage, Baba Awolowo.”
Okorocha, who extolled the late Mrss Awolowo’s virtues, told reporters that the late matriach of the Awolowo family lived a good life worthy of emulation by Nigerian women.
Dignitaries at the funeral service are: Governor Segun Mimiko(Ondo), Senator Anthony Adefuye, members of the Ogun State Executive Council, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Senator Gbenga Kaka and former Governor Gbenga Daniel and his wife, Olufunke.
Others are former Governor of Lagos State Alh. Lateef Jakande, former Police Inspector General Tafa Balogun, Senaror Biyi Durojaiye, former Ekiti Governor Segun Oni, frontline banker Otunba Subomi Balogun, former Oyo Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, Chief Olu Falae, Sokoto Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Edo Governor Adams Oshiomhole and his wife, Hon. Patrick Obaghiagbon, former Ekiti Governor Niyi Adebayo, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi, Mines and Solid Minerals Dr Kayode Fayemi and Works, Housing and Poer Minister Babatunde Fashola. THE NATION