Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Babangida Arrives, Weeps

Babangida arrived in a chartered German aircraft marked CS-DPF at 5. 45 p.m. but without the body of the deceased. The retired general sobbed profusely as he alighted from the plane and was unable to acknowledge greetings from sympathisers.

The Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umaru Farouk Bahago, received him at the tarmac but he could not respond to his greetings as he broke down in tears.

Babangida and the dignataries left the airport 15 minute later, in a convoy with other sympathisers to his Hilltop home in Minna.

At the airport were, Governors Emmanuel Uduaghan,Aliyu Shinkafi, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Aliyu Babangida, Aliyu Shinkafi, Chief Tony Anenih,

Alhaji Aliyu Akilu, Alhaji Umaru Ndanusa, Maj-Gen Hamza Abdulahi (rtd), Justice Alfa Belgore, Brig.-Gen. Raji Rasaki (rtd), Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Senator Jim Nwobodo, Mr Nduka Obaigbena, Alhaji Yahaya Mohammed, Prof. Charles Soludo, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Alhaji Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Emir of Minna, Alhaji Umaru Farouk Bahago.

Meantime, the former Head of State, General Abdusalam Abubakar, also shed tears on arrival at the Babangidas' residence for the first time to condole the family members over the demise of former first lady, Mrs. Maryam Babangida.

Gen. Abubakar, who is a neighbour to the Babangidas, had been in Niger Republic on an international peace mission trip for over 20 days and had to cut short the trip to pay his last respects to the deceased.

The former Head of State, who was driven straight to the Babangidas' residence was moody as he stepped into the compound.

As he alerted from his vehicle, and stepped into the compound he was greeted by other sympathisers and before walking into the sitting room, tears rolled down his cheeks as he shook his head in total disbelief to the shocking death of Maryam.

After condoling with the family, he refused to grant interview to newsmen who waited for his reaction over the death of the deceased, saying, "I will be back; I will see you people later."

However, Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi, has described the late Maryam as a mother and a role model to everybody, especially the womenfolk

Answering questions from newsmen at the Babangidas' residence, the governor, who is an in-law to the family having married Aisha, the first daughter of the deceased said, "she was a mother to us, it is a pity that she died when the nation needed her services most."

He prayed God to grant her eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Similarly, Minister of Interior, Alhaji Mustapha Shetima, who was a minister under Gen. Babangida's regime, described the former first lady as "very simple, straight-forward and always ready to assist," adding that she was an example for all women to emulate.

Speaker of Niger State House of Assembly, Alhaji Musa Ma'ali, described the death of the former first lady as a great loss not only to Niger State but indeed, to the country.

Former Lagos State Govovernor, Brig. Gen. Raji Rasaki flanked by Former Education Minister, Prof. Tunji Adeniran (l) and Publisher This Day Newspapers, Mr. Nduka Obaegbina at the Minna Airport. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

He noted that late Maryam contributed her quota to the development of the country and state even after her husband had left office as military president, adding that, "for this reason, the state legislators will take a decision on how to immortalise her, especially because of her regular advice to us."

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