Eulogies continue to trail HID Awolowo
ANYTIME the role of women in contemporary Nigeria’s political history is to be chronicled, it is certain that the name and the role of Mama Hannah Dideolu Awolowo, popularly called and known as HID Awolowo, wife of the progenitor of free education and leader of the Action Group (AG) and Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Chief Obafemi Awolowo, would not only come atop, she would be accorded prominence and a well deserved priority.
Until her death at age 99 in her Ikenne House, Ogun State, on Saturday September 19, 2015, precisely 67 days away from her centenary birthday celebration, HID Awolowo remained active in contributing and intervening in the political affairs of the country, like her husband who passed on 28 years ago.
Her political relevance in the South West became palpably and conspicuous during the 2015 general elections when her home in Ikenne, became the must to visit, for everyone and political parties that have interest in running for the presidency in Nigeria.
The two major contestants in the election, President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) team were left with no choice than to visit the old matriarch to inform her about his intention to run for the president as he also seek the support of the Yoruba through her consent.
Buhari’s immediate predecessor in office, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) team did not leave any stone unturned as they took their turn to intimate HID Awolowo about intention of Jonathan to run for second term in office.
The whole idea behind the visits to mama was simply to notify the Yoruba race of their intention to seek for the number one job. That alone showed the extent of her un-diminished relevance in the country’s political landscape until she passed on three days ago.
It is also on record that Chief (Mrs). Awolowo played active role in positioning the Yoruba race in the political settings of the country until her death. For instance she joined other South West leaders like the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, Olubuse II, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, former Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae; Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, Former Minister Of Mines and Steel Dr Kunle Olajide, Senator Bode Olajumoke, Senator Femi Okunrounmu, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Senator Omololu Meroyi, Senator Tony Adefuye, Pa Olaniwun Ajayi and host of others under the umbrella of Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF) to confront former President Jonathan when it became obvious that the Yoruba were being marginalized in the system.
As a matter of fact, it was HID Awolowo, who set the agenda of a wake-up call that the Yoruba cannot be sidelined under the former President Jonathan’s administration.
She urged that the South West must take cognisance of its enviable contributions that culminated in the then Jonathan led-government.
In making the call to the Yoruba then, she recalled how her husband Chief Obafemi Awolowo made enormous sacrifices, including his readiness to be the second in command under an alliance between the defunct National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) and the Action Group [AG] in the First Republic, saying: “The lack of compromise from the other camp led to the collapse of the arrangement.”
Apart from the unprecedented role she played in making a wake up call to the Yoruba, HID Awolowo was unrelenting in her efforts to ensure that South West politicians forged a common front for the interest of the Yoruba people in the larger Nigeria enclave irrespective of their political affiliations.
On several occasions she made relentless efforts to resolve the dispute between the leadership of the Afenifere, a Yoruba socio-political group.
She usually emphasized that there was nothing wrong in political parties merging but warned that Yoruba must learn from history and avoid a situation that could create further division among them.
In a condolence message, the Lagos State chapter of APC said her death is the closure of a glorious chapter in a progressive family that impacted positively on the lives of many Nigerians.
The party described her as living a fruitful life that will remain indelible not only in the history of the country but on the many lives that were positively impacted through her actions.
The Spokesman of the party, Joe Igbokwe said that Mama Awolowo complimented her husband’s progressive ideals to leave remarkable footprints on the Nigerian polity. It describes Mama Awolowo as a hallmark of matrimonial and ideological fidelity, which served the nation well as she lived her glorious life to an end.
According to the party, “We are saddened that Mama Awolowo died just as the fruits of progressivism yielded after several decades of reactionary dominance of the country’s politics and the corrosive effects it has had on a country that is richly blessed with both human and natural resources. “She was a study in perseverance and patience as she stood solidly behind her husband in the days of dangerous politicking in the country. She remained firm, unshakeable and constant in the many years of struggle for the enthronement of progressive regime in the country and served as a guiding light to the struggle, which yielded handsomely on March 28, 2015. She stood with her husband through the pains and anguish of fighting for a better Nigeria and remains a yardstick for matrimonial fidelity till death.”
In another condolence message, Osun State Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has described the exit of Mama H.I.D Awolowo as “a gap that is very difficult if not impossible to fill because she represented the main rallying point and unifying force for the entire Yoruba race irrespective of political affiliations, class or religion.
“Till her death she remained the only respected common institution voluntarily accepted by all and whose voice and summon could and would never be disobeyed by any son or daughter of the Yoruba ace.
“Mama was indisputably considered by all, including non-Yoruba as the custodian of the rich Yoruba political values, no wonder she was treated as an oracle who must be consulted by all presidential aspirants in the country, seeking to get the support of Yoruba electorates.
She was and she indeed truly played the role of the regent of the Awolowo and Afenifere political kingdom, with the headquarters in Ikenne.
“As it is with our patriarch, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, so shall it be with our matriarch, Mama HID, who would for life be celebrated by the Yoruba race, she would only be mourned because of the difficult gap her exit has caused the race, she would never be mourned for her death because she lived an accomplished life from all definitions.”
The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) also mourned her, saying: “She remains the wife and inestimable jewel of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the avatar of progressive politics in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by the ARG Publicity Secretary, Kunle Famoriyo, the group said the news of her death came as a shock as no one would ever wanted to lose a jewel but we are comforted by the kind of life Mama lived.
She dedicated her life as the critical support needed by her husband in the pursuit of common good and the building of an egalitarian society.”
ARG therefore called on all Yoruba people and indeed all Nigerians to celebrate her lifetime and legacy and pray for the repose of her soul and eternal blessings on all she left behind.
In another message, former governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke said she was the political mother of Nigeria, who bestrode the land like a colossus and angelically.
In a statement signed by his Media Assistance, Olumide Lawal, the APC senator said HID Awolowo was a fountain of knowledge, whose wealth of invaluable experience, would be greatly missed across the world.
According to him, “HID Awolowo was a fulfilled and fantastic nationalist and an iconic leader in her own right, who firmly held the forte like a Rock of Gibraltar for late Papa Obafemi Awolowo many years after his demise. She was a citizen of the world, whose memory, even at the ripe age of 99 never fails, as she recalls events with absoluteness. She was deeply a religious woman, who was there for all, even without notice.