Waiting to see Tafawa Balewa’s widow
By; Thomas Adejoh.
The fourth day of January 2016 was like any other day to many people but to say the least, it was a special day for me. It was a day that a rare opportunity came to speak with one of the wives of the late Prime Minister, Late Sir Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Hajiya Jummai Tafawa Balewa. Incidentally she is the only surviving wife of the late Prime Minister who obliged to speak with the New Nigerian Special Team led by the Managing Director, Malam Tukur Abdulrahman.
We drove straight to the house of the late Prime Minister situated along Old Ram Road in Bauchi metropolis. The Senior Special Assistant on Media to Bauchi State Governor, Comrade Sabo Mohammed and the Director of Press in the Government House, Malam Danbaba Umar were our guides. With this team leading us, we had no problem seeing the late Prime Minister’s widow. But all the same, there was a hiccup as New Nigerian team had to wait for a little protocol to be observed. When we later gained entrance into the ancient house of the late Prime Minister, which is just few meters to the tomb of the late Prime Minister, it was an excitement.
The house was renovated by late Head of State, General Sani Abacha’s government. It is a three bedroom storey building. Behind it is another building which house members of the Prime Minister’s family. In fact it does not look like a house of one time number one citizen of Nigeria. However, the entire scenario depicts the simple way of life of the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. When we were ushered into the moderate sitting room where the Prime Minister’s widow lives, no one need to tell you the modest way and manner late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa lived. The furniture were of modern size but not expensive, the dark red rug is as old as 20 years while the painting of the wall was carried out in 1999 just as the foundation of the building is still as strong as it was built.
As the New Nigerian team began the conversation with Hajiya Jummai Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, one can see those signs of humility of a housewife and mother on the face of the 80 year old woman. She was only 13 years when Jummai got married to late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Though 50 years ago; the absence of her husband had created a gargantuan vacuum that is difficult to fill. Oh! How painful it is to looe the bread winner of the family. When she began to recall some of the things that took place on the day her husband was assassinated, Hajiya Jummai revealed that that day was like the normal day and the Prime Minister went about doing his official duties throughout the day. But at about 2am some soldiers stormed the official residence of the Prime Minister and forcefully seized him. According to her, late Prime Minister was not surprised to see soldiers at that time of the night on the day because previous security reports showed that some soldiers wanted to kill all the political leaders in the country, adding that when he saw the security forces that wee hour of the night, he thought they had come to provide more security for him. Unfortunately, they turned out to be his assassins.
Hajiya Jummai said the family also got the news about what was going on in Kaduna that Sir Ahmadu Bello was killed in the same night. “There was serious apprehension among members of the family when we received this news. But nothing was heard of the Prime Minister’s whereabouts for almost one week until they brought his remains to us,” she said.
Hajiya Jummai talked beautifully about the life
and times of her late husband. She got married to
late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa at the age of 13
and they were blessed with seven children but one
died. “We were four in number but I am the only
one that is alive. We spent about 16 years because I
got married to him at the age of 13.” We married in
accordance to Islamic laws and we were happy with one another but due to his official engagement both within and outside the country, he hardly have time for us.
The names of my children include Amina, Sadiq, Yelwa, Haruna, Usman and Zainab. There is no doubting the fact that since the untimely death of the Prime Minister a lot of
things may have happened to members of his family especially in terms of domestic needs. But the most important things she said is that they lived peacefully as husband and wives just as the late Prime Minister was going about doing his work. According to her, “those of us
that were with him, it is difficult to compare his character with the modern politicians; he was distinct both in character and deeds, human, considerate and loving,” she added.
New Nigerian team also visited the tomb of the late Prime Minister where some historical engagements of late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa were on display. In fact the picture of a baby boy who was born on the 1st October 1960
Master Abubakar Nwabuzor was also on display at the exhibition. The visit of New Nigerian team to Bauchi also created an opportunity for them to have the feelings of the
Bauchi State Traditional council about the performance of New Nigerian Newspapers over the past 50 years. Chairman, Bauchi State Traditional Council poured encomium on the
New Nigerian, saying it has to maintain its unique way of reporting events just as it is. “We have high regard for New Nigerian Newspapers,” the traditional ruler remarked.
(Mr Thomas Adejoh died last week Monday, 11 January, 2016 barely a week after this visit to Bauchi. He was untill his death, the Associate Editor News of the New Nigerian Newspapers).