Twelve years ago, Nigerian and international media were awashed with the reports of the demise of Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs Stella Obasanjo, in the Southern Spanish town of Marbella. The cause according to reports is a failed liposuction performed on the First Lady.
Over the years, many first ladies have come but none has been outstanding as Mrs Stella Obasanjo. Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo described her as a sage and would continue to miss her
“I won’t say much about her today because I have already written much about my late wife in the book, ‘My Watch’ and part of it says, she will be dearly missed by me, my family and the Abebe family,” Obasanjo during the 10th remembrance of his late wife.
Aside this accolades from her husband, here are four things that made her a favourite for many Nigerians.
1. Little or no Controversy during her time as the First Lady
One thing that stands Stella out of all First Ladies Nigeria has had since the return of democracy is the near absence of controversy around her personality.
She maintained a high class of a first lady, unlike the little known Fati Abubakar, her predecessor. Not that she didn’t wield political power, but she did that with an aura of elegance that was appreciated by those working in the Presidency.
2. No power struggle
The office of the wife of the President in Nigeria is always coloured with power struggle or political interference. Experience with Turai Yar’Adua, Dame Patience Jonathan and the current First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has made many to conclude that there will always with a power struggle in the seat of power. Especially between the President’s handlers and his wife.
This was never experienced during her time, not because Obasanjo is a strong man but because Mrs Stella understood that the real power lays in the bedroom. One she used to the admiration of many.
3. Highly appreciated by other world leaders
Highly appreciated by many, including leaders of other countries, is a fact that cannot be disputed. Mr Yinka Kareem stated while reviewing Stella: Her Journey & Her Legacy, that: “she came, she handled and she conquered.”
To Nigerians, she is loved by many across the geopolitical spheres of the country.
4. A good back-up for her husband
Mrs Stella was always a good back-up for her husband even while in power. This she did very well and created a more nationalistic outlook for President Obasanjo, even at a time national integration seemed lacking.
She saw an opportunity to consolidate this role and did so with the establishment of the Child Care Trust. The Trust is to tackle the problems of poverty, unemployment, nutrition, health and education as they affect children across the country.
On whether the trust achieved its goals is another topic, but having something of such at a time President Obasanjo is always out of the country on diplomatic missions means more than just a charity.