Tribune Publisher, Oluwole Awolowo, dies in London at 70

Oluwole Awolowo

Mr. Awolowo reportedly died in a foreign hospital on Wednesday evening.

Oluwole Bolade Akanni Awolowo, scion of the powerful Awolowo political family, publisher of the Tribune titles in Ibadan,  who was famously called “unbreakable,” out of childhood excesses, passed on Wednesday at the Wellington Hospital, St Johnswood, London, following complications arising from a car crash that occurred on September 30, 2006.  He was 7o.

According to a statement published on the website of The Tribune,  Mr. Awolowo died at  7.40 p.m. Nigerian time, on Wednesday, “He had been in and out of hospital, home and abroad, since he was involved in the ghastly accident seven years ago on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway,” the statement said.

The paper said despite his health challenges following the accident, Mr. Awolowo devoted his life to the service of God and was deeply involved in evangelical activities. In the past four years, he authored a christian column, OBA’S LECTERN, in the Sunday Tribune, the statement further said, adding, “He fought a good fight and has gone to rest with his Maker.

“We ask for prayers at this most trying time for the Awolowo family and for the ANN Plc.”

Also from Lagos, a Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere Renewal Group, issued a statement  saying:  “The entire Afenifere family mourns the passing away of the scion of our illustrious leader’s family, Chief Oluwole Awolowo.

“His death is a big pain and loss to all of us who are followers of the sage. We pray that the Almighty will strengthen our Mama and the entire family in this difficult moment. May his amiable soul rest in perfect peace,” the group said in a statement by its spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin.

Born in Ibadan, as the second son of the late nationalist leader, Obafemi Awolowo, on 3rd of December in 1942, the deceased lived a life of intense rebellion, and iconoclastic temper, prompting his father, the late premier of western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, to dub him “unbreakable.”  As a young man he announced himself a socialist, joined the youth wing of the NCNC, led by the late Chief Nnamdi Azikwe, in opposition to the party his father formed, the Action Group, AG, which was something of a taboo in Nigeria’s First Republic.

He followed this up in adulthood by taking membership of the United Progressive Grand Alliance UPGA, and helping elect the famous Lagos politician, TOS Benson who was something of a political enemy to his father.

Unlike his other siblings who took to active academic pursuits and professional calling, the deceased had just a diploma in Business studies from the Leeds College of Commerce.

He had a stint as a career business development officer at both the Nigerian Bottling Company and later the Nigerian Television before veering into real estate, haulage, and dealership of petroleum products.

He eventually reconnected to the political tendencies of his father in 1979 when he ran as a candidate of the Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN and was elected into the Lagos State House of Assembly to represent Apapa Constituency.

After the Buhari coup of 1983 sacked the civil order, he became weary of politics, and, backed by his mother, the powerful matriarch of the Awo family, Hannah Dideolu, who was also his greatest influence and supporter, he became publisher at the family-owned African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc that publishes the once influential Tribune titles.

During the elliptical days of the transition of “President” Ibrahim Babangida from a martial to civil order, Mr. Awolowo was made a delegate to the Constitutional Conference in Abuja, and subsequently became a member of the Transition Implementation Technical Committee, Abuja.

Seven years ago, he survived a near fatal car crash from which he was dramatically saved, but never fully recovered and that continued to set him on a perennial commute to a doctor’s visit abroad. In his later years Mr. Awolowo grew more settled, living a religious life. He pursued and acquired a bachelor’s and masters degree in theology.

One of his close friends, the poet and public commentator, Odia Ofeimun, who was one-time private secretary to Mr. Awolowo’s father, the grand patriach himself, remembered him Wednesday as a ‘genuine and incredibly warm person.” He told PREMIUM TIMES that he was worried how the mother would take the news.

Mourning in sighs and broken thoughts, Wednesday night, in Lagos, Mr. Ofeimun repeatedly chorused: “unbreakable, unbreak, unbreak, what a shame, he was a good man, a great friend, he is gone.”



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