President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said he could not afford to miss the ceremonies marking the last rites for Chief H.I.D. Awolowo, wife of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in Ikenne, Ogun state.
The President commended the late HID, saying she earned a special place in the consciousness of Nigerians as well as encomiums pouring for her from home and abroad.
He spoke to family members, friends, associates and other prominent Nigerians at the Ikenne home of the late Premier of the defunct Western Region, where he had gone to pay condolence, he explained that the deceased deserved the attention she was receiving from home and abroad.
Buhari noted how she effectively took care of the home front while her husband was busy around the country and throughout the world.
He praised her family and urged all of them to stick together as they have done.
Buhari said: “Let me appreciate those who have come to participate in this ceremony
When I was in the car, I discussed it with the Governor of Ogun state that the late Mrs. Awolowo and all the nation is doing for her.
“While chief was all over the country and the world, she was effectively managing the family. So, she earned this. May her soul rest in perfect peace.
“And for you that have for weeks been gathering friends, associates and facing all the logistic problems day and night, I congratulate you for a very successful burial of the late Mrs. Awolowo
“I came back last evening from Iran and I had to make sure I do not miss the last rites for Mrs. Awolowo because she earned it.
“This is the third time I have been here and I hope the family will try and continue to hold together as they have been doing.”
Speaking earlier, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state expressed delight at the presence of the president in Ikenne, noting that it was an honour not only to Mama H.I.D, her family and womenfolk but to the whole of Yoruba race and the nation.
Speaking for the family, the eldest child of Awolowo, Mrs. Oyediran welcomed the president to Awolowo’s house and thanked him for the honour.
She said there had been outpouring of love on the late matriarch of the Awolowo family everywhere they had been to as a demonstration of how well loved she was.
According to her, “Judging by the life that mama led, little did we know that she was so loved by all Nigerians and you all have demonstrated it this afternoon. So, we warmly welcome you into our midst.”
While thanking the president and various state governors in the south west who have been part burial activities, she stated: “You have been extremely wonderful to this family.
“When we got to Lagos, we thought that was it. When we got to Ibadan, it was a complete standstill and when we got to Ogun, the governor was dancing with us all the way from Shagamu to ikenne with all the beautiful ladies with us here this afternoon.
“So, I want to thank you and to use this opportunity to wish your government progress and the good work which you have started, I pray that the good Lord will continue to support you and you will not fail in Jesus name.
We all believe that there will be a change.”
In her vote of thanks, Ambassador Tokunbo Dosunmu, revealed that the late Mrs. Awolowo had in the last 20 years discussed her funeral, telling her family that it was not an affair for them alone but the whole world.
She said the way the final rites had gone would have been beyond the imagination of the deceased.
She stated: “It must be so wonderful to grow old, old enough to be able to talk about one’s funeral in a matter of fact way.
“For the last 20 years, I think mama has been discussing her funeral and what it would be like and where the damask was on which she wanted to lie and all sorts of things like that.
“And she used to say one thing. She said ‘my funeral is not yours alone. I belong to the whole world.’
HID goes home
Meanwhile, Our Saviour Church, Anglican Communion, Ikenne Remo Diocese in Ikenne area of Ogun State was yesterday filled to the brim as the crème de la crème in all walks of life thronged the Ikenne country home of Obafemi Awolowo as the Matriarch of the Dynasty, Chief Hannah Dideolu Awolowo was buried.
The seat of power and authority was temporary moved to Ogun State as President Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Senate; Senator Bukola Saraki, 16 Governors, sizeable number of members of the Federal Executive Council for Heads of State, movers and shakers of the business world all pay their last respect for the late HID Awolowo.
Governors of Oyo and Osun State; Abiola Ajimobi and Rauf Aregbesola respectively who came late to the programme had to struggle for seats within the Church while the Governors of Imo and Sokoto State, Rochas Okorocha and Aminu Waziri Tambuwal respectively had to forgo the luxury of office as they were packed on a seat.
The Governors of Kaduna and Edo States, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Adams Oshiomole also came late and had to leave the Church premises as there were obviously no available spaces for them to occupy because they also came late.
Security operatives, Journalists were all accredited and wearing tags as many, including Aide De Camp of Governors were prevented from entering the premises.
Cars were packed about I kilometre away from the venue as people with invitation were seen trekking to the venue while other were prevented from the premise of the Church.
In his sermon titled ‘God’s promised rest’, the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria, Revd. Nicholas Okoh described corruption, armed robbery, human trafficking and other vices as the yolk and burden of the society which everybody is not free from.
Reading from the Mathew 11 vs 28-30, the Reverend said the only way to be safe from the self inflicted problems of terrorism and indiscipline which has degraded facilities and taken away our resources is to answer God’s call for peace and tranquillity.
He said, “Today, what can we classify as the yoke and burden of our society and family? Let’s just take a sample; criminal behaviours such as armed robbery, kidnapping, raping, human trafficking, baby factor and so on, they are all things that would weigh the conscience of the society real down.
“Corruption of all description, including indiscipline, unemployment and terrorism are also taking their turns.
“We run into the trouble of having a generation of young people who are whiling away. Devil has taken away our peace, it has also taken away our money; we are making a very investment to combat terror, this is self-inflicted problem that we going through.
“You can talk also of other yokes inflicting us as a people, talk of ill health, sickle cell, diabetes and cancer is ravaging the land.
Again, we have broken homes and it is really of consequences, these are all yokes on the conscience of the society.
Is there anyone of us who can exclude himself from the yokes and bondages? in all sincerity, we are all heavily burdened.”
Speaking about the life and time of HID Awolowo who would have turned 100th yesterday, Revd. Okoh said, “Mama was a happily married wife, devoted so her husband so much s that she earned from her indomitable husband, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“The iconic description ‘Jewel of inestimable value’, it is not every woman that a man of that calibre can describe like that, it wasn’t done for television sake, it was done based qualities of the mama, having been with her in all the political travails of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“The woman stood still and was a source of strength and encouragement, little wonder the man was indomitable.
So, She was such a great wife.
“Mama was a courageous woman, having lost three of her children while alive; she was not overcome by grief, she still looked forward with determination and fortitude, it is a good example of motherhood to those who are aspiring to marry and for young women who are married and those who feel marriage should be all about that money and money alone.”
In a brief remarks of behalf of the President, President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki described HID Awolowo as an iconic woman who stood firmly by her husband during the trying periods.
He advised the Children left behind to carry on with the good works of the family.
The remains of HID Awolowo was later interred beside her husband at the Awo’s Mausoleum within the Awolowo compound.
Journalists and other dignitaries except the immediate family members and the Bishops were allowed into the graveside as she was lowered to the grave around 1.40pm.
Meanwhile President Muhammadu Buhari who arrived the Awolowo family shortly after the private interment went straight into Efunyela Hall where other dignitaries were waiting.
He was received by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo while media men were prevented from covering the session which lasted for about 30 minutes.