Deju Elumoye and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, led prominent Nigerians to console the family of the late Premier of the Western Region and nationalist, Chief Obafemi Awolowo over the passing of Mrs. Tola Oyediran, eldest daughter of the sage.
Mrs. Oyediran, who was billed to celebrate her 80th birthday on December 1, was said to have passed yesterday.
She was the Chairman, Board of Directors, African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN) Plc, the publishers of Tribune titles, and was married to the former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. Olukayode Oyediran.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, in a statement said the President urged the family to take solace in the investments of the deceased in making life better for others.
Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, in his tribute, contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, described the late Tola Oyediran as not only “an embodiment of humility and virtue, but also demonstrably exhibited independent-mindedness, foresight and managerial acumen in all tasks thrust upon her.”
Abiodun added: “She was also a great Nigerian in her right and stood as a rock of Gibraltar behind her very successful medical doctor husband and former Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan, Prof A.B.O. Oyediran. Her successes as a home-maker cannot but be an irreparable loss to her immediate and extended family members and and indeed a very painful exit for them.
“Mrs Oyediran was a central figure during her father’s travails as a political figure and after the demise of Papa and Mama Awolowo. Her role in keeping the legacies of Chief Obafemi Awolowo as Chairman of the African Newspaper of Nigeria, publishers of the Nigerian Tribune titles and family businesses are a testament to business acumen and genuine love for her iconic parents.”
While thanking God that Mrs Oyediran devoted her days on earth to serving God and humanity as a business leader and pastor, Abiodun prayed for the repose of her soul and asked the Almighty to grant the deceased family and associates the fortitude to bear the loss.
In their reaction to the news of her demise, the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, in a statement titled: “Farewell Mrs Tola Oyediran”, issued by its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said it was devastated by the news of her demise.
According to Afenifere, Mrs Oyediran, who would have been 80 on December 1, passed on suddenly without illness.
“Mrs Oyediran was a lovely person who radiated warmth and love to all in her lifetime. Her death is a big blow we have to accept as we cannot change the will of God. We can only pray for God to take good care of the family she left behind. Eternal repose we pray for her soul,” the group said.
In the same vein, the Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, described her death as a great loss to the Yoruba nation.
Olajide, while consoling the entire Awolowo family, her husband, children and grandchildren, said she was a patriotic Nigerian who contributed immensely to the development of the Yoruba race.
According to him, “The death of the eldest daughter of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, is a tragic loss to the Yoruba nation. She was a very patriotic Nigerian, accommodating woman, dedicated housewife and good daughter of Yoruba nation.”
In his tribute, the All Progressives Congress’ National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu extolled the virtues of the departed soul, expressing his sadness by the news of the passing away of Chief Awolowo’s daughter.
His statement, signed by his spokesperson, Mr. Tunde Rahman reads: “I’m deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Mrs. Tola Oyediran, the first daughter of our late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
“Mrs. Oyediran’s humble, amiable and graceful disposition endeared her to many of us. She represented the Awolowo family positively through her excellent moral conduct and shared her father’s welfarist political philosophy.
“As Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tribune Newspapers until her death, she helped take the Tribute titles to a new height through her emphasis on professionalism and integrity in all their editorial offerings.
“She died close to her 80th birthday. We thank God for her life and important contributions to Nigeria. I commiserate with all those she left behind, particularly her children, grandchildren including my Special Assistant, Damilotun Aderemi, and the entire Awolowo and Oyediran families. May God Almighty comfort them over this loss.”
Asiwaju Tinubu also extended his condolences to the management and staff of Tribune newspapers, the governors of Ogun and Oyo states, Prince Dapo Abiodun and Mr. Seyi Makinde, respectively, as well as the government and people of the two states over the demise of their illustrious daughter.