The expectation was high following the boasting of Ogun State government that all the governors across the country as well as Presidency would be at Gateway International Stadium, Sagamu venue of one of the programmes specially designed and lined up for the funeral of the late HID Awolowo.
Amosun had reportedly insisted on holding a special programme single-handedly funded by his government where all the governors and President Muhammadu Buhari were proposed to be drawn to the venue to pay their last respects.
The Secretary to the State Government,Taiwo Adeoluwa while addressing newsmen on the final burial rites of HID Awolowo had boasted that President Muhammadu Buhari and 35 governors had been invited for the final burial rites of the late matriarch of Awolowo, Chief (Mrs.) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo .
According to Adeoluwa, the State government had invited all 35 state governors and secretaries to state government to join it in the special fanfare organised for the celebration of the late matriarch at Sagamu International Stadium on November 23. Adeoluwa revealed that the day was set aside for the people of the state to celebrate and honour the departed Yeye Oodua of Yorubaland.
But, on that day, the programme which was billed to start by 12 pm and end 4 pm started without the presence of either the Presidency or the governors. Only nine of them sent their representatives to the programme.
The only saving grace for the governor was the short stay by the Minister of Solid Minerals , Kayode Fayemi and former national Chairman of All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande while, the governor heaved a sigh of relief following the full attendance by the Head of the defunct interim national government, Chief Earnest Adegunle Shonekan.
Vanguard gathered that, though, few governors, especially his colleagues from the neighbouring states would have honoured his invitation, but the sudden death of the governorship candidate of their party, APC, Prince Audu Abubakar was said to have stopped them .
Abubakar, who died shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission had declared the election inconclusive prompted the stakeholders in APC to hold emergency meetings on how to solve the political logjam. Unexpectedly, the VIP seats at the venue were subsequently occupied by other people who ordinarily might not have been allowed in the state box and it’s surroundings.
The children and grand children as well as great grand children attended. Vanguardgathered that wife of Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo refused to speak for Presidency and she reportedly insisted that she came as a grand child of the deceased. She was also reportedly asked to speak as wife of Vice President which she reportedly refused and spoke as ‘just a child in the Awolowo family.’
The situation at the venue showed that, the programme was poorly attended especially by very prominent personalities invited.
Vanguard gathered that apart from the governors that were being expected, other important personalities include former President Olusegun Obasanjo , former governor Gbenga Daniel and royal fathers such as the Awujale of Ijebuland and Akarigbo of Remoland were conspicuously absent.
An unconfirmed report had it that, some of the governors did not honour Amosun’s invitation due to not -too-cordial relationship between him and his colleagues. Meanwhile, the Ogun State Government had named the Plainfields Estate, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta and the yet-to-be completed government-owned Model School in Ikenne after the late Chief (Mrs.) Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo.
The estate and the model school named after the late matriarch are part of the projects embarked upon by the current administration in the state in the past four years. Amosun in his keynote address at the programme tagged “Ogun Celebrates HID Awolowo” said that naming the two projects after the late matriarch was part of the moves to immortalise her.
The governor said that the two projects named after her would preserve the memories of the late matriarch of the Awolowo family. “The state Exco met today and we agreed we’ll name some projects after mama; the ones that will be lasting,” Amosun said. He described the late Mama Awolowo as a rare gem who played a vital role in the stability of the Awolowo family and Yorubaland.
Earlier, prominent Nigerians had paid glowing tributes to the late matriarch. Those who paid tributes include; head of the defunct interim national government, Chief Ernest Shonekan who said: “She was a great pillar of support to her husband, especially during his political travails,” Shonekan said.
A chieftain of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo noted that Yoruba land and Nigeria at large would miss her greatly.
Also, the former military administrator of Ekiti State, General Adetunji Olurin (retd) said that the free education policy initiated by the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1955 enabled poor Nigerians to have access to basic education. Olurin however noted that the support and backing given the late sage by his wife, HID Awolowo contributed greatly to the success of his programmes.
He further described her as “a strong housewife, a diligent supporter of her husband. Our mama was a very strong-hearted woman; very dedicated to the society and her community.” In her response, the eldest child of the late matriarch, Reverend Omotola Oyediran commended the Ogun State Government for organizing the programme and thanked Nigerians from all walks of life for attending it.
Oyediran assured Nigerians that the family left behind by Mama HID Awolowo would not disappoint Nigerians. “I don’t know what to say because really this is awesome. This is exactly what mama wanted. You have all demonstrated to us that you appreciate what mama and papa meant to Nigeria. We’ll not disappoint Nigeria.”
The event was spiced up by Juju maestro, Chief Ebenezer Obey, Fuji musicians, Adewale Ayuba and Sefiu Alao as well as gospel singer Tope Alabi among others.