Dignitaries honour Tinubu's mum
Sundays are usually calm in Alausa - the seat of the government of Lagos State. Low traffic as well as shut offices.
But yesterday was an extra-ordinary Sunday. It was the funeral of the mother of the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Alhaja Abibatu Asabi Mogaji died at her Alausa home on Saturday evening, aged 96. She would have been 97 in October.
Since the news broke, all routes to the home have been busy, as dignitaries pay their last respects to the President-General, Association of Nigerian Market Men and Women (the Iyaloja of Lagos and the Iyaloja General).
The presence of a large detachment of policemen and men of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) in their combat-gears, officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), men of the state Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), officers of the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI Brigade), among others, bore witness to the power of the loss.
The late Alhaja Mogaji's influence explains the attention her burial received. Only recently, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, during its 50th anniversary, honoured her, alongside former Military President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, with a doctorate degree.
At about 8.45am, Asiwaju Tinubu, in company of his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, family members and associates, left his Bourdilion Road, Ikoyi, home in a convoy to her late mother's residence in Alausa.
There, he met a huge crowd and praying sympathisers.
Among guests at the home were Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Moslem faithful gathered in the packed premises, praying for the repose of the deceased's soul.
In the room where the late Alhaja Mogaji was laid in-state in a white casket, the former governor, his wife and other family members gathered, tears dropping from their eyes as the reality of their mother's death stared at them.
ACN National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande joined them, expressing his condolences and urging the family to be strong.
There were pushing and shoving, but security agents did their utmost to ensure prayers were done without much distractions.
The full effect of the crowd was felt as the body, at exactly 9.38 am, was driven to the Central Mosque in Lagos. It was one of the longest convoys ever witnessed in the city.
The Third Mainland Bridge brought to mind a typical rush-hour Monday morning. It was packed with hundreds of vehicles taking guests to the mosque for prayers before the final funeral rites.
There was fanfare. Many policemen and LASTMA officials led the way on motorbikes. Sounds of sirens rent the air.
At the mosque, a huge crowd had gathered. Lagos Island residents lined the road through CMS, Tinubu and Broad Street, among others, waving at the long line up of vehicles.
At the mosque were House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola, Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Senator Isa Muhammed, former Lagos State Governor Lateef Jakande, former Supreme Court Justice George Oguntade, and ThisDay Publisher Prince Nduka Obaigbena, among others.
The session lasted less than 30 minutes. Tinubu, dressed in a white agbada and a dark sunshade, waved at the ecstatic crowd as he stepped out of the mosque with the dignitaries.
The Osolu of Oposolu Kingdom, Oba Abideen Adekambi, captured the sentiments of those weeping. He said: 'We love you mama.'
The late Alhaja Mogaji was interred in accordance with Muslim rites at about 12:40pm at the Vaults and Gardens, behind the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Ikoyi - the final resting place of the rich and powerful. Lagos banker Tayo Aderinokun, among others, was buried there. It is a beautiful garden of bright flowers and lush green grass with narrow but clean walkways . The body was brought to the cemetery at exactly 12. 20 pm in a Mercedes Benz marked TOS 7 of the TOS Funerals.
Leading the graveside prayers, the Chief Missioner of Lagos Central Mosque, Alhaji Mujitaba Giwa, who stood in for the Chief Imam, prayed for Allah to be merciful to the late market leader and grant her soul peaceful repose. Speaking in Yoruba, the cleric described the late Alhaja Mogaji as a good citizen who lived a good life and left good legacies behind.
'We are gathered here to bid our mama goodbye. As an individual, she came into this world well, lived well and left well,' the cleric said.
With Tinubu at the graveside were Tambuwal, Governors Amosun (Ogun), Ajimobi (Oyo), Aregbesola (Osun), Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Publicity Secretary Alhaji Lai Mohammed and National Legal Adviser Dr Muiz Banire.
Others are: Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, Lagos Assembly Speaker Adeyemi Ikuforiji, Secretary to Osun State Government (SSG) Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, former Minister of State for Defence Demola Seriki, former Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy Dele Alake, Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Strategy Yusuf Olaniyonu and Lagos ACN chieftain Cardinal James Odumbaku.
Others include members of the Lagos State Executive Council, Local Government Council chairmen and representatives of traditional rulers, party chieftains, traders, youth groups and many other sympathisers.
Immediately after the interment, the party headed for The Blue Roof, LTV 8, Alausa, Ikeja, where a special prayer for the late Alhaja Mogaji was observed. The prayer, which lasted for about an hour, also featured two special lectures - one each in Yoruba and English languages. Alhaji Giwa, who delivered his lecture in Yoruba, said death is certain for all. He advised everybody to live in a way that will make departure a thing to be celebrated than what men and women would agonise over. He urged those present to strive to leave behind, whenever the last hour comes, good legacies and hope for good reward hereafter.
'We would all die, but what would be our reward? ' Giwa asked. He pleaded with those left behind by the late Alhaja Mogaji to keep her legacies alive.
The National Missioner of Ansar-udeen Society of Nigeria described death as a long process, which grows with man as he grows older every day. Death, he said, is the only thing that is certain in life, adding that money, power, connection and fame cannot buy or delay death forever. It is for this reason that every living being must be prepared and live a life that will elicit commendation and not condemnation, said the cleric.
Members of the Conference of Chairmen of Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas, Lagos State (CONFERENCE 57) and their wives wore aso ebi.
Itinerant drummers were everywhere entertaining the crowd and praise-singing some dignitaries.
Two big portraits bearing the picture of Alhaja Mogaji were placed on the right and left sides of the stage.
The stage was occupied by a horde of Islamic clerics from various parts of Lagos - different mosques and organisations were well-represented.
Inside the packed expansive hall, were many other dignitaries, including Chief Akande, Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, former Foreign Affairs Minister and ACN chieftain Tom Ikimi, Lagos State First Lady Dame Abimbola Fashola, Osun State Deputy Governor Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, Alhaji Femi Okunnu SAN, Senator Ganiyu Solomon, Lagos State ACN Chairman Henry Ajomale, Lagos State ACN Publicity Secretary Joe Igbokwe and a large army of party supporters.
Also in attendance were former Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Aremo Olusegun Osoba; Hon. Oyetunde Ojo and wife Folashade; Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola; Mrs. Olufunso Amosun; Mrs. Florence Ajimobi; traditional rulers; white cap chiefs; Baba Adinni of Lagos Sheikh Abou Afeez; Secretary to the Lagos State Government Dr Idiat Oluranti Adebule; Alhaja Fatima Bintu Tinubu; Alhaji Kola Oseni; Mr. Kayode Opeifa; Mr Wale Edun; Senator Ajayi Boroffice; Oba Olatunji Hamzat; Chief of Staff to Lagos State Governor Alhaji Lanre Babalola; Chief of Staff to Osun State Governor Gbenga Oyetola and wife, Kafayat and others.
Giving the vote of thanks, Aregbesola expressed gratitude to all and sundry for their show of love and prayed Almighty Allah to reward them bountifully.