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We thought my mother was praying when she died — Tafawa Balewa’s son Usman

Usman Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, a retired senior public servant in Bauchi State, is without doubt one of the youngsters of Hajiya Jummai Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the one surviving spouse of Nigeria’s first and solely Prime Minister, the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who handed on not too long ago on the age of 85. He spoke with DAVID ADENUGA about his mother’s passion and life-style.


Your mother, Hajiya Jummai Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the one surviving spouse of Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, handed on not too long ago on the age of 85. What impact has the loss had on you?

Her death is devastating. She has been my information and mentor. I lost my father at a really early age and she took over each position as a father and a mother. She inculcated the worth of honesty, onerous work and religion in us earlier than her demise.

Tafawa Balewa's wife
Tafawa Balewa’s spouse

The place had been you when you heard about her death?

I was proper by her bedside on the hospital in Lagos the place she died. I was even holding her arms 10 minutes earlier than she handed away.

Wherein hospital did she die?

Premier Hospital on Victoria Island


What was she recognized of earlier than her death?

She was recognized of coronary heart failure.


 However she travelled to India this 12 months for medical therapy. Didn’t she get higher?

She was in India for a while. When she got here again, she was higher, so we thought she had recovered. However you understand when your time reaches, there’s a technique to go, so her well being saved deteriorating.

Who sponsored her journey to India?

She truly travelled twice to India this 12 months. The primary journey was sponsored by the previous Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, with assist from the state government. The Federal Authorities additionally contributed its quota to her second journey to India, along with the previous speaker and the state government.


 How shut had been you to your mother?

Among the many male youngsters, I was the closest to her.


 What are your fondest recollections of her?

I don’t wish to heap praises on her because she is my mother. However loads of people who trooped into our compound then had stated Hajiya was a sort hearted woman. Hajiya is a woman who cares concerning the needy and can go all the way in which out to help even when she doesn’t have sufficient. She has touched lot of people’s lives.

She was so beneficiant that these days when we (her youngsters) gave her presents, she would give them out to these in want. I can’t rely the number of orphans she introduced up. That was the place her happiness lay; seeing different people pleased.

As I advised you earlier, she can also be prayerful. She prays fervently. When her second approached, we heard her praying. She was praying on her sick mattress when she died. That was about two minutes earlier than she died round 5pm on a Sunday night.

We thought she was nonetheless praying; we didn’t know she had handed away. She had an oxygen masks on her face however we may hear her audible voice reciting the title of Allah. After a while, she simply saved quiet and we thought she was sleeping.

I, my elder brother and younger brother went out thereafter. We had been pleased that she was lastly recovering; we didn’t know she had handed away. It was the physician who confirmed her death. All efforts to revive her proved abortive.

 What had been her hobbies?

Hajiya beloved watching India films and soccer. She supported Manchester United Soccer membership, which is the membership my younger brother additionally helps. She took to Man United because of him. She stopped attending ceremonies on account of her age and poor well being.

 How did she handle to care for her youngsters after the demise of her late husband and former prime minister, Tafawa Balewa?

From the proceeds she obtained from her landed properties, she took care of her youngsters. At occasions, the federal and state governments assisted, and a few people of goodwill additionally contributed.

 What number of youngsters did she depart behind?

We are seven in number, other than those who have handed away. We are 4 females and three males.

 How was she in a position to make sure peace, been the one surviving spouse in a polygamous household earlier than her death?

My father made certain he united everybody earlier than he died, so that they had this ingredient of respect amongst themselves. She occurred to be the second spouse among the many 4 wives my father married. Earlier than the opposite wives died, you wouldn’t know if there was a friction between them, as they had been in a position to deal with their mutual relationships whereas all the kids lived in peace.

 What did she hate probably the most?

She hated dishonest. What she at all times advised me was to by no means cheat anyone. I’ll always remember her for that.

What are the stuff you assume that people don’t find out about her?

What people don’t know is that Hajiya was very protecting. She at all times made certain her youngsters had been secure. When she got here again from India, she made certain she referred to as everybody of us. There was a time I travelled to Abuja, instantly my flight landed, it was her name I first receive when I switched on my cellphone. She truly monitored my flight (laughs).

Has being the son of the late PM Tafawa Balewa actually opened doorways for you?

Probably not. It’s a lengthy story. What I like probably the most is when people say my father is an efficient man. Whereas I was resident in Abuja, there was this mosque in Zaki the place I noticed ablution. The Imam,

although not from Bauchi, there was no Friday he wouldn’t name for prayers for the late PM. That may be a nice honour. However when it comes to  his title opening doorways for me, it has not.

What was Hajiya favorite music?

Largely, she listened to Hausa music. She was very present too. She listened to extra of news although.

 What did she use to inform you about Nigeria?

She was not pleased with the model of management within the nation, however she at all times prayed that sooner or later, it could get higher. She wasn’t pleased with the scenario of issues within the nation. To her, it was mind-boggling to listen to that someone can steal N10,000 to not speak of billions of naira. She was once unhappy to listen to this sort of factor.

What did she inform you about your late father who died whilst you had been nonetheless very young?

There was a time I was attempting to be a truant in secondary school. She used to inform me to observe my father’s instance. She stated he usually trekked from

Bauchi to Katsina to go to school. She advised me that he went by means of lots for the unity of Nigeria. She additionally advised me about his integrity. She stated her husband had each alternative to complement himself however he feared that sooner or later, he would die, and what would he inform Allah in heaven? She stated one of many values her late husband imbibed in his family was honesty.

What particularly would you determine as your mother’s core contribution to humanity?

There have been some leaders who use to come back to hunt recommendation and counselling from her on sure issues. She helped loads of orphanage houses, largely ladies. She supplied a number of humanitarian providers to them. She simply assisted with out caring to know the place they got here from.

Have you ever ever thought of following in your father’s footsteps by going into politics?

I did, however I obtained scared. Now I’m a retired public servant. I was in service for 27 years and retired final 12 months.

How massive is your polygamous household, as your father was believed to have many youngsters?

We are solely 16 left. Some have handed away.


” We thought she was nonetheless praying; we didn’t know she had handed away. She had an oxygen masks on her face however we may hear her audible voice reciting the title of Allah. After a while, she simply saved quiet and we thought she was sleeping.”


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