Lagos literally stood still, yesterday, as the President-General, Association of Nigerian Market Women and Men, Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji, who died last Saturday aged 96, was buried at the Vaults and Garden Cemetery, Ikoyi, amidst eulogies. Late Alhaja Mogaji was the mother of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and national leader of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.
Tinubu, who recalled his mother’s last moments, said: “On Saturday afternoon, she had her lunch. After that, she took her drugs and rested. While resting, death came and snatched my mother away. Immediately she died, I felt her void. She taught everyone she came across contentment, love and the act of sharing, especially to the needy. I will miss her lunch even when I am full. I am very happy that she is my mother. She is a very successful mother and a good leader. She departed this world peacefully without taking us through pains.”
He added; “She is so kind and God was also kind to her. She is a good thinker and a compassionate person. She has left a very good legacy for everyone. She did something when I was the governor of Lagos State that really touched me and that was when she asked me to consider three women, who had challenges paying their children’s West African Examination Council, WAEC, fees. As a governor then, I began the policy of paying WAEC fee of pupils in Lagos State public schools. Those are the things that will fascinate anyone about my late mother. There are many lessons that women can learn from her. And one of the lessons is to be resilient, committed and industrious in order to help banish poverty in the country. She is a committed democrat.”
In his words; “She believes in the one-man one-vote campaign. She will vote and mobilize others to do so. Women must also be committed to the education of their children, which is the antidote for poverty in the country. Once we come out of this, the nation will make progress.”
At 8:00am, the Alausa residence of Mogaji became a beehive of activities, as hundreds of party loyalists, relatives and friends to her children thronged her premises to honor her.
Some of the dignitaries at the various events that led to the burial and Fidau prayers include Alhaji Aminu Tambuwai, Speaker, House of Representatives; governors Rauf Aregbesola, Adam Oshiomhole, Ibikunle Amosun, Abiola Ajumobi and Kayode Fayemi of Osun, Edo,Ogun, Oyo and Ekiti states, respectively; Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary of the Commonwealth; Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader, House of Representatives; Mr. Femi Okunnu and Tom Ikimi.
Others were Mr. Femi Pedro, former Deputy Governor of Lagos State; Mr. Tajudeen Oluyole-Olusi, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN chieftain; Chief Rasak Okoya; Mallam Aliko Dangote, President, Aliko Group of Company; Mr. Ademola Seriki, former Minister of State for Interior; Mr. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Speaker, Lagos Houe of Assembly; Mr. Muiz Banire, former commissioner for environment Lagos State, and Amb. Musiliu Obanikoro.
The wives of the south-west governors, led by Dame Emmanuella Fashola, and chairmen of the 57 councils in the state were also there.
The Fidau was conducted earlier in the day at the Central Mosque, Lagos Island, before she was buried at the Vaults and Garden Cemetery.
The corpse was brought into the Mosque at 11:24am, followed by a short sermon.
Alhaji Muritala Giwa, who delivered the sermon, urged Tinubu, Tambuwal, governors and the crowd at the Mosque, to always eschew violence and exhibit good attitude.
Giwa said: “As the late Iyaloja General of Lagos impacted positively on the life of people, everyone should emulate such act.”
Tambuwal described late Mogaji as “a great woman and a great mobiliser of women and an advocate of people’s right.
He said: “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.”
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, who is out of the country on an official trip, in a statement through his Special Adviser on Media, Hakeem Bello, described her death as a great national and personal loss.
Fashola said she was a forthright defender of the people and their right to economic empowerment, adding that this trait had been imbibed by anyone that had the opportunity or privilege to meet her.
According to him, this peculiar trait was evident in the personality of her illustrious son and former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, a leader with the love of the people at heart.
Fashola said: “Alhaja Abibatu Mogaji was a frontliner in the commercial development of Lagos State, particularly Lagos Island, which was formerly dominated by 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.”
Describing the late Iyaloja-General as a great matriarch, Fashola said Alhaja Mogaji did not limit her business and social networking to the confines of Lagos State alone, she always sought the welfare of market men and women and ways of opening up more business opportunities for them.
“This attribute of hers must have informed the unanimous decision of all commercial traders regardless of ethnic, religious or political persuasion to select her as the pioneer Iyaloja/President-General of Nigerian Market Men & Women. A position she handled with utmost responsibility and diligence, he said.