By Donu Kogbara
EARLIER on this month, my cousin, Chief Mrs. Zainab Marwa, the Igolo Oha 1, went to meet her Maker. She was related to me via my mother and her branch of the family was highly successful.
She herself was a famed beauty in her heyday and a smart, energetic and much-loved two-time First Lady. Everyone who knew her well thought well of her.
One of her brothers, Jude Agbaso, was a one time deputy governor of their state, Imo. Her other brother, Ochoudo Martin Agbaso, MFR, is one of the most dynamic businessmen in this country.
Please find below a tribute that Martin shared with me:
Chief Mrs. Zainab Marwa was born to Nathanial and Charity Anne Agbaso in Imo State as Salome Chioma Agbaso. She was raised as a devout Catholic. From birth it was widely known and pronounced that she was a special and gifted soul. This would prove true in her life as she excelled in all her endeavours from a very young age.
As a teen she met and fell in love with a dashing young Army Officer by the name of Lt. Mohamed Buba Marwa. They were married when she turned 18, her beloved husband gave her the muslim name of Zainab which was his late mothers name.
She has gone by this name for the past 48 years. Mohamed Buba Marwa would later rise in the ranks of the army and politics with her strong partnership and support. She has always been his backbone.
They are blessed with four accomplished children (Barr. Abubakar Marwa, Lt. Col.Mohamed Marwa, Barr. Mariam Marwa-Abdu and Barr. Zainab Marwa- Abubakar).
At the tender age of 26 she was the zonal representative of the Nigerian Army Wives Association hereinafter to be called NAOWA, Ikeja Zone. She later became the president of NAOWA’s Borno chapter where she re-stablished the then defunct organisation.
She initially did this by pumping in funds raised from a workshop she conducted with all the wives of the state governors and NAOWA presidents nationwide in attendance. She also raised money for the less privileged and established a women’s skills acquisition centre.
Due to her husband’s posting to Washington D.C, she relocated back to the United States with her young family. Never one to rest on her oars, she soon became the representative of the Nigerian Army wives in the Greater Washington D.C Army Wives Association.
Chief Mrs. Zainab Marwa was later to return to Borno State, this time as the first lady at the age of 35 when her husband became the governor. Her achievements in this role include but are not limited to the following:
• In Borno she became head of Better Life For The Rural Women and established four major cottage industries namely, textiles industry, cosmetic industry, pottery industry and opened shops for the sale of the produced materials to raise funds in seeking to cater to the plights of the needy and women.
• She established a women’s centre in all the local governments.
• She kicked off a public awareness campaign for the benefit of vaccinations and the use of ORT which cut down infant mortality rate in the state.
She opened mass literacy classes in all local governments.
• She launched an anti-drug drive campaign in the state.
Due to all her accomplishments she was recognised in her state of Imo by giving her the chieftancy title of Igloo Oha 1 which means the northern star that outshines the moon that illuminates the earth, a most befitting title. She was then to become the first lady of Lagos State where she continued to assist women.
After leaving public service she turned her energies to her calling of philanthropy. She has over the years worked on a range of projects to include working on the Out for Behavioural Changes Campaign, acting on behalf of children with Down syndrome, various anti drug drive campaigns. She also from time to time lends her experience and technical know how to various other movements.
Chief Mrs. Zainab Marwa’s greatest legacy are her four wonderful children. She spent most of her time when she wasn’t championing causes close to her heart in the company of her 10 beautiful grand kids.
Her body will be laid to rest in Emekuku Owerri (my mother’s maternal village) tomorrow.