By Olasunkanmi Akoni
…as prominent Nigerians pay tribute
Last Saturday came like any other day, but alas, in the evening of the same day, the cold hands of death snatched away a prominent Nigerian, the President-General, Association of Nigerian Market Women and Men, Alhaja Abibat Mogaji, mother of the former Lagos State Governor and National leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The event occured at her residence, No 10 Sunday Adigun Street, Alausa, Ikeja.
She died at the ripe age of 96 and was later buried on Sunday, at the Vaults and Garden Cemetery, Ikoyi, according to Islamic rites.
The burial witnessed the crème de la crème of the society who thronged the Lagos Island Central Mosque, Vault and Garden Cemetery and the LTV ground, Ikeja, venue of the reception where she was described as icon of achievements.
Mogaji in her life time was a frontline leader of Lagos State Market Women Association who dedicated larger part of her adult life to protecting the rights of market men and women.
She earned their respect, having succeeded in mobilising them for greatness and innovation, and giving every market person a brand to associate with.
The highly revered leader threw her great weight into the battle to have a saner market place, where the rights of the market people are not trampled upon, and at the same time not in conflict with the rules of the state.
Under the able and strict leadership of Alhaja Mogaji, Thursday of every week was made compulsory sanitation day for market men and women.
Her campaign to the market places to enlighten the market folks on governmental policies like census, voting, immunization and other economically beneficial programmes of the government spurred the Lagos state government to make her chairman of the Lagos Market Board.
She was honoured with no fewer than 10 different titles by traditional rulers and interest groups across the nation.
Such titles include: President General, Association of Nigerian Market Women and Men; Iya Adinni of Yaya Abatan Central Mosque, Ogba-Agege; Yeye Oba of Ikirun Land; Yeye Oba of Kweme Kingdom, Badagry; Yeye Oba of Osolu Kingdom; Yeye Oba of Lagos to mention but a few.
She also won several honours and awards from organisations such as Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA; National Council of Women Societies; Eko Award 1991; National Youth Organisation and Law Ladies Forum, University of Lagos amongst others. Due to her humanitarian services, she was bestowed with matronship of many organisations like Nigeria Red Cross, Nigeria Youth Organisation, National Union of Lagos Students, Nigerian Society for the Handicapped, and Egbe Omo Eko.
When Saturday Vanguard got to her residence, a family member, who was around when the market leader died narrated her last moment .
“Mama never showed any sign of death lately although in the past, we have had cause to panic after repeated bolts of sicknesses due to old age. But this time around, Mama was hale and hearty till her last moment.
“We woke up that day and she was in her room relaxing.She had her breakfast, an oatmeal and went back to sleep. In the afternoon, after she observed the noon prayer, she called for her lunch. She ate tuwo, a local meal popular with Kwara state indigenes. Not quite long after, between 4 and 5 pm, she called for me as I entered, she just shouted, Allahau Akbar three times and after that, she kept silent and that was it. She never woke up again. We started calling families, friends and other people to tell them what happened.
“I was so shocked, because I have never seen such a peaceful passing away of anybody like that. I thank God that Mama lived a fulfilled life worthy of emulation.”
The Janaza (Muslim prayer for the dead) was conducted last Sunday at the Central Mosque, Lagos Island, where well-wishers and friends had the final glimpse of the corpse before the body was moved for internment. The corpse, was brought into the Mosque at 11:24am during which a short sermon was delivered.
Alhaji Muritala Giwa, who delivered the sermon, urged Asiwaju Tinubu, the son of the deceased, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, Governors and the crowd at the Mosque to always eschew violence and exhibit good attitude in life.
Giwa said “as the late Iyaloja General of Lagos impacted positively on the lives of people, everyone should emulate such act.”
Meanwhile, eminent Nigerians have continued to eulogise the late nonagenarian. Leading personalities in the condolence messages to Tinubu was President Goodluck Jonathan who noted that, Mogaji would be remembered across the country for defending the interests of the poor.
The President in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, stated the late market leader lived a fulfilled life.
Abati said, “President Goodluck Jonathan commiserates with Bola Tinubu and his family. President Jonathan believes that the highly respected market leader will be long remembered across the country for her indefatigable championship of the cause of market women and men.”
Also in his tribute, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal described her as a great woman and a great mobiliser of women and an advocate of people’s right.
”Her socio-economic contribution to the nation will definitely be missed. She has left a vacuum in the nation. She was a special gift to this country. “
The bereaved, Tinubu, who was sharing pleasantries with guests and clad in white traditional attire, described her mother as a good leader and compassionate person.
“I am very happy that she was my mother. She was a very successful mother and a good leader. She did not put anyone in suffering before she departed from this world. She was so kind and God was also kind to her. She was a good thinker, passionate and compassionate. She reminded me of the defect in the society. She left a very good legacy for everyone.
”On Saturday afternoon, she had her lunch. After that, she used her drugs and rested. While resting, death came and snatched my mother away. She taught everyone she came across contentment, love and the act of sharing especially to the needy. She was the one who asked me to look at the face of three women who had a challenge of paying their children’s West African Examination Council, WAEC, fee . It is not the amount of money I pulled out of my pocket but as a governor then, I began the policy of paying WAEC fees of pupils in Lagos state public schools. Those are the things that will fascinate anyone about my late mother.
“Well, immediately she died, I felt her void. One cannot but look at his mother being buried. There are many lessons that women can learn from her. And one of the lessons is that they should learn to be resilient, committed and industrious in order to help banish poverty in the country. She was a committed democrat. She believed in one man, one vote campaign. She would vote and mobilise others to do so.
In his tribute, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state, in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media, Hakeem Bello, described her death as a great national and personal loss.
Fashola said the mother of his illustrious predecessor in office, Tinubu, throughout her life time was a forthright defender of the people and fought for their right for economic empowerment, adding that this trait has been imbibed by everyone, who has had the opportunity or privilege to fall within the ambit of her influence.
According to him, this peculiar trait is evident in the personality of her illustrious son and former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a leader with the love of the people at heart.”
He said:”Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji was a frontliner in the commercial development of Lagos State, particularly Lagos Island, which was formerly dominated by the Lebanese and Greek Merchants.
“She was one of the pioneer traders who ventured into the capital intensive and risky business venture of importation of consumer goods, thereby breaking the monopoly previously enjoyed by the foreign tradesmen and her business acumen attracted the attention of Multi-National Enterprises operating in Nigeria then, who had no option but to register her as a business partner and distributor of their consumer goods in Nigeria.”
Governor Aregbesola of Osun State in his tribute said “she was a good Muslim. A good mobiliser and a very good organiser. She was a leader and mobiliser of women. A philanthropist, charitable and compassionate mother. She mentored us so much.”
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has commiserated with the national Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on the death of his mother, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji.
In a condolence message signed by Mr Peter Okhiria, his Chief Press Secretary, Comrade Oshiomhole said “I commiserate with you, my leader, and indeed with the entire Tinubu family, on the passing of your beloved mother, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji. I wish to offer the condolence of the people and government of Edo State and my personal commiseration over this loss.