More condolences poured in Thursday for the widow of the late political sage, Mrs H.I.D Awolowo, whose only surviving son, Oluwole, passed on Wednesday in London at the age of 70. Beside the condolence messages, scores of sympathisers thronged the Ikenne, Ogun State, country home of the late Obafemi Awolowo to condole with the family.
Among the early callers was President Goodluck Jonathan who was represented by his Special Adviser on Policy and Strategy, Mr. Oronto Douglas. He described the deceased as a great Nigerian.
Jonathan in the condolence register wrote," A great son of Nigeria is gone. Adieu our leader and brother."
The president followed the visit with a statement by his spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, in which he paid glowing tribute to the deceased, who until his death was the vice-chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc., publishers of the Tribune titles.
In the statement, the president described the death of Oluwole as sad and painful, noting that he was a distinguished evangelist, humanist and community leader.
He said he was a worthy and honoured member of the Awolowo dynasty who diligently served God and humanity to the best of his abilities.
He commended his steadfast, life-long commitment to upholding, maintaining and continually improving the Tribune newspapers, which ensured that the Nigerian Tribune and its sister publications have remained an objective voice of reason in Nigeria’s media space.
“On behalf of himself, his family and the Federal Government, President Jonathan extended heartfelt condolences to Chief Awolowo’s immediate family, the matriarch of the Awolowo family, Mrs. Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo, other family members and Ogun State people,” the statement said.
On his part, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in a statement said the late Oluwole was a peaceful person, who did his best to keep the kite of Awolowo's heritage flying through decades after the death of the late sage.
He remarked that his death is a loss not only to the Awolowo family, but also to all the supporters of the late sage.
"Decades after the death of his father, Chief Oluwole Awolowo did his best to keep the kite of the African Newspapers of Nigeria, publishers of the Nigerian Tribune, flying. He will be remembered as a man of peace, who was committed to his family,” Atiku added.
Bauchi State Governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, also described the death of Oluwole as most unfortunate and a great loss to the newspaper industry considering his contribution to the survival of the industry over the years.
Yuguda said the news of the death came to him as a shock, adding that as mortals, we must all die someday.
Also describing the death as “very painful”, Edo State Governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, in a statement, said: “We share in the grief and pain of the Awolowo family at this very difficult period, knowing how closely-knit the family is.
“Oluwole upheld the Awolowo name till the end and kept the dream of the sage alive through his prudent management of the Tribune newspapers. He will always be remembered for his forthrightness.”
Former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, in a condolence letter to the Awolowo family, mourned the death of Oluwole, whom he called an “illustrious Nigerian.”
“By this development, Ogun State and indeed Nigeria have been robbed of the invaluable services of a thorough-bred personality whose contributions to societal development are very remarkable.
“He will certainly be missed for his commitment and dedication to the development of the society. It is my prayer that God, in His infinite mercies would give you the fortitude to bear the huge loss and also grant the soul of Evangelist Awolowo eternal repose,” he said in the condolence letter he personally signed.
Former Abia State Governor, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, described the demise of Oluwole as a big loss to the nation.
In a statement, Kalu said: "I am personally pained on the death of my colleague in the media industry. He was a forthright man with an unbeatable level of simplicity. He was a patriotic Nigerian who believed in justice, fairness and equity.
"He upheld the legacy of his father, Chief ObafemiAwolowo, by fighting for the downtrodden in the society all through his life.”
In his tribute, former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, said:" It is sad, but in everything, the Bible tells us to give thanks. We thank God for his life. May God Almighty grant him eternal rest."
The Bishop of Remo Diocese (Anglican Communion), Rt Rev. Olusina Fape, in his tribute, said the death of the publisher was a great loss to him and the diocese.
"His death to me as a person is a great loss. His encouragement and work in the ministry, especially the part he played where he was still much active at Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Anglican Church (OAMAC) here in Ikenne, would be missed,” he said.
At the Awolowo home in Ikenne, mourners also paid tributes to the late publisher.
Among those who called to condole with the Awolowo matriarch were former governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga Daniel; his wife, Olufunke; the Alakene of Ikenne-Remo, Oba Adeyinka Onakade; representatives of the Ooni of Ife, led by Apetumodu of Ipetumodu, Oba Elijah Adegoke; Mr. Olaniwun Ajayi, Justice Owolabi Sonoiki (rtd), Chief G.O.K. Ajayi and wife.
Some other callers included: Prince Bola Ajibola, Professor Timothy Ogunlesi, Ogun State Secretary of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Abimbola Awofeso.
Daniel in a statement described the deceased as a peace builder and an unassuming leader, adding that the late Oluwole contributed his own quota to the society.
Senator Adegbenga Kaka, representing Ogun East Senatorial District, said the deceased was a gentleman, harmless and was kind to all.
"He was erroneously judged throughout his life by the incomparable standards set by Papa Awolowo without due consideration for his outstanding virtues. May his soul rest in peace," he said.