How Mama Awolowo Influenced Papa Awolowo To Join My Regime – Gowon

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A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, yesterday eulogised Mama HID Awolowo for convincing her husband, Chief Obafemi Awolowo to join his government between 1967 and 1970.

According to Gowon, Awolowo who was the founder of the defunct Action Group (AG) and former Premier of the old Western Region joined his government through the intervention of the late sage’s wife, Hannah Dideolu, who passed on recently.

Gowon said: “If not for the intervention of Mama, I am not too sure whether Chief Awolowo would have accepted to serve in my government. We had to go through her to get Papa to join us in government.”

Speaking during the condolence visit by members of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation to Ikene on the passing away of Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, who died on September 19, 2015 at 99, Gowon said that in paying condolence to her, “we cannot do without mentioning her husband, Chief Awolowo, as you all know that he was very instrumental to some of our successes in government in those days.”

He also used the opportunity to appeal to Nigerians on the need to exercise patience and cooperate with the present administration to do the right thing, saying: “There are many problems as there are many Nigerians but there is the need for a lot sacrifice, patience and endurance to resolve them.”

He also commended Nigerian media for the role they have played so far in the course of resolving the challenges confronting the country.

Gowon said: “How did she woo Papa to our side? I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to release Chief Awolowo from prison and he returned to Lagos, certainly to be able to help us secure peace in the Western Region at that time.

“The development made HID Awolowo very excited and she was very grateful and that is what earned my deep respect for her throughout her lifetime.

“But there was also the need to get Chief Awolowo involved in our government because what we wanted at that time was peace, especially when the Western Region was in crisis.

“It is my great honour that God used me to bring him back to his family. What people may not know is that it was through Mama that I was able get the services of Awolowo to join the government at that time and to be the Vice Chairman of our Executive Council and the Minister for Finance and we all knew what he did to ensure that we are able to survive as a nation during those two and a half years of crisis.”

He continued: “Let me tell you something: My hope when I became the Head of State was that at between six months and a year, I would have resolved some of the problems in the country. But I discovered to the contrary, that it was not going to be easy to resolve some of those problems overnight. So we have to be patient with our leaders for them to be able to get things in order.

‘‘She was a very dear wife to her husband. She lived with him and went though the rough days with him. She was there with Papa during the period that he was incarcerated. I am delighted that I saw to it that he was cleared and was reunited with Mama in those days.’’

He added that HID Awolowo’s contributions were tremendous: “I will always thank her for that because if we had not approached her to prevail on Papa to join the government probably he may not have. But he did and I will always say that he did exceptional well and may God bless the two of them.

“She was a wonderful woman. She did not only look after her husband but also took good care of the children. We knew how she lost few of her children in that period. You could imagine the pain of a mother losing her children, but she bravely continued to look after those who were alive and also nurtured them to become important personalities in our society.

“Therefore, we are here to pay condolence to this family for the great loss. I was abroad when this news came to me and the first person I contacted was my wife. The last time I met her I told her that she must make it up to 100 years so that we could dance a centenary dance with her but said: ‘If the good Lord permits.’ Unfortunately she did not.”

Gowon urged the family to sustain the legacy of their parents and to ensure that the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation continues.

Professor of Medicine, Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe said HID Awolowo was a mother of the nation by popular comment and going by the caliber of personalities that have visited her home in Ikene since her demise.

According to him, “HID Awolowo was a caring, loving woman of vision. I want to urge the children to sustain the legacy of their parents, particularly the foundation.”

In her response, Mrs. Tokunbo Awolowo Dosunmu expressed gratitude to members of the foundation as she disclosed that the family has decided to set up the HID Awolowo Foundation under the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation.

Other members of the foundation present during the visit were: Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola, Chief Arthur Mbanefo, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Richard Okafor, Prof. Funmi Soetan, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Prince Tony Adefuye.

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