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How Stella Obasanjo Died: A Surgery, A Massive Asthma Attack and A Coma...

Posted by This Day Reporters on 2005/10/24 | Views: 15056 |

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How Stella Obasanjo Died: A Surgery, A Massive Asthma Attack and A Coma...


President Olusegun Obasanjo, in the early hours of yesterday lost his wife and Nigeria's First Lady, Stella.

View Pictures of Stella Obasanjo


President Olusegun Obasanjo, in the early hours of yesterday lost his wife and Nigeria's First Lady, Stella.


Stella, who would have been 60 next month, died in Spain after undergoing surgery.


Although Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media Matters, Mrs. Oluremi Oyo, while breaking the news at a press conference, did not disclose the nature of the surgery, THISDAY gathered that the First Lady died of complications arising  from cosmetic surgery to reduce fat from her body.


Addressing State House Correspondents at about 9.30am yesterday Oyo said, "President Olusegun Obasanjo announces with deepest sorrow, the death, in the early hours this morning (yesterday), of his beloved wife and First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo.
"Mrs. Obasanjo died in Spain after undergoing surgery. She would have been 60 years old next month".


Oyo, while holding back tears, and saying that the First Lady's death gives her "deep sorrow", added that "condolence registers have been opened at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, State House, Marina, Lagos and President Obasanjo’s home in Abeokuta".


When asked what kind of surgery Stella underwent in Spain, she said that "I cannot say".
Stella, THISDAY checks revealed, flew into Spain on Thursday from Paris and breathed her last at about 4 am yesterday at Marbella Hospital in Malaga, Spain.


Sources told THISDAY that as a result of complications resulting from the surgery the First Lady had a "massive asthma attack and fell into a coma" from which she did not recover.


Two Spanish newspapers El-Pais.es and L'a Nacion Domingo said she had the surgery at Molding Clinic, near Banus Port before she was transferred to Legal Medicine Institute of Malaya, following post-surgery complications. While the two papers said she died at the Institute, a Spanish Radio Unionradio.net reported that Stella's remains was moved from Molding Clinic to USP Hospital of Marbella (Old Europe Clinic) after her death.


The radio reported that medical personnel at USP Hospital tried resuscitation maneuvers but were not successful "given her advanced state of shock."


The radio said an initial autopsy called 'pre-survey' of the corpse has been conducted and samples taken to the Legal Medicine Institute for final autopsy today.


In a telephone interview with THISDAY yesterday, the Nigerian ambassador to Spain, Dr. Kingsley Ebenyi, gave graphic details of Stella's last moment.


According to him, Stella came into Paris Thursday in her usual vivacity, betraying no sign of illness. She was actually billed to represent the President at the 40th anniversary of  Cardinal Francis Arinze’s ordination in the Vatican City on Saturday.


But the first lady later told the ambassador that she would like to do a medical check up and that she had already made an appointment with the doctor.
Soon afterwards, both Ebenyi and Stella drove to the hospital in the same car. On Friday morning she was taken to the theatre.


The first lady was said to have been hale and hearty after the operation and she spoke with Ebenyi later that Friday.  Stella was said to have given the envoy go ahead to arrange for her hotel accommodation in Rome where she was being expected the next day.


Her condition, however, began to deteriorate that Saturday which necessitated that she remained in the hospital. The hospital later called to inform the ambassador that her condition was getting worse.


At 3am yesterday, the ambassador had woken the President up with a telephone call to inform him that his wife’s condition was deteriorating. Obasanjo who was said to have taken the news calmly then asked the ambassador to get details of what was wrong with her and brief him on the development later yesterday morning.


About one hour later, news came from the hospital that Stella had passed on.
Asked how he broke the sad news to the president, Ebenyi said he could not tell him directly.


"I called him (President Obasanjo) at 3am today (yesterday) to inform him that the first lady’s condition was getting worse. I woke him up from sleep and he said ‘ok’ and that whatever the situation is I should let him know. This morning I was informed by the hospital that she had died. But I couldn’t call the president to break the sad news to him. Instead I called the ADC and told him so it was the ADC that told the president. I did not know how to break such news to him.


"He (Obasanjo) later called me to ask for the details of what happened to her and what really went wrong."
The president was said to have requested that the remains be brought back yesterday but that could not be done as the autopsy could not be performed yesterday being Sunday.


Obasanjo was said to have spoken to the Spanish King urging that the autopsy be done as fast as possible so the body could be flown home today.


The Spanish authorities were said to have assured the president that they would do everything possible to ensure that the body is brought back to the country today or tomorrow.


There were immediate condolence messages from top government officials with the Governors of Kogi, Imo, Gombe and the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State being the first set to sign the condolence register at State House in Abuja.


The President had returned to Abuja from Ota Ogun State Saturday evening and has remained in his residence.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr. Ahmadu Ali, one of the early callers that signed the condolence register at State House Abuja, had while paying tribute to the first lady Ali said: " The mother of the nation is gone. May God grant her peace and paradise Amen. May Allah give Mr. President the fortitude to bear the loss".


The National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President Lt Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (Rtd) wrote, "Rest in peace". Former Minister of Finance, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma said, "We have lost a good and close friend". The Economic Adviser to the President, Prof. Ode Ojowu stated, "I asked God to help my president to come out of this crisis stronger.


Help us as those who work with him to dedicate ourselves and help Nigeria".
 Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki described Stella as a motherly figure who inspired women in Nigeria and across Africa.
"On behalf of the government and the people of Kenya, and on my own behalf, I extend our heartfelt condolences to your Presidency personally and through you to all Nigerians," Kibaki said in a statement.


Kogi Governor Ibrahim Idris, the first Governor to sign the condolence register, had in an interview with newsmen said, "I am still very Shocked". Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo State and Danjuma Goje of Gombe state also called at the State House to condole Mr. President.
In Rivers State, Governor Peter Odili said with Stella’s death, "a beacon of hope for our women and children has been extinguished." The governor directed flag be flown at half-mast while condolence registers be opened at Government House, the State secretariat and local government headquarters.
"We pray that Almighty God will give her husband, our dear President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, her children, the Abebe and Obasanjo families and indeed the Government and good people of Nigeria the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss," the Rivers government stated.


Governor Chris Nwabueze Ngige of Anambra State yesterday cut short his medical vacation in Houston, Texas, United States of America.
He said "the death of the First Lady is a tragic loss to the nation because she has been a moderating influence in the Presidency."


He added that "To those of us who were close to her, it is an irreparable loss. To our President, it will be the loss of a very friendly and soothing companion."
Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State described yesterday as a Black Sunday.
In a personal condolence message to Obasanjo Tinubu said, the government and people of Lagos State received with shock, the news of the untimely death of your wife, confidant and soul mate, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, the First Lady, adding. We shall miss her warmth, her comradeship, her generosity and her candour".
He said "the government and people of Lagos State share your grief. We share the sadness. We share the irreparable loss."
Governor Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State in a statement issued on his behalf by Mr. Yemi Olowolabi (his Chief Press Secretary) wrote, "the Governor of Ondo State sorrowfully sympathise with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Nigerians on the tragic demise of the First Lady and founder of Child Care Trust, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo. Her death is a tragedy of monumental proportion which has left Nigerians mourning and wondering. Without any doubt, she was a woman of virtue with unequaled zeal and passion for humanity. Either as the First Lady or as Initiator of Child Care Trust, Mrs. Obasanjo exemplified hope for the burdened and a soothing balm for those in anguish".


Describing the First Lady's death as a rude shock to him and the entire people of Ekiti State, Governor Ayo Fayose, in a condolence message said, "we have always seen and admired the First Lady as very supportive of Mr. President. She was very loving and held in high esteem by all".


In a statement issued on his behalf by his Chief  Press Secretary, Mr. Idowu Adelusi, Fayose added, "our government and the entire people of Ekiti State are deeply touched by the death of the First Lady and therefore pray that God should help 'Baba' to bear the loss".


Governor Sam Egwu of Ebonyi State described the death of the First Lady as sad and irreparable.
In a statement in Abakaliki Egwu said that with Stella’s death, the President has lost a soul-mate and confidant, adding that the late first lady was an activist for the poor and a symbol of hope for the down-trodden.


In the statement, which was signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Chief Onyekachi Eni, Egwu said Stella’s death has robbed Nigeria and the international community of a committed crusader against HIV/AIDS and a passionate advocate for the less privileged.


The Adamawa State Government expressed great concern over the double tragedy that struck the nation early yesterday.


The State Commissioner for Information Hon. John Ngamsa said "The news was so sad, painful and bitter. The loss of the First Lady, the national mother and wife of the national father, during this trying period is obviously very unfortunate because it is anticipated that the future is supposed to be for both the deceased and her husband Obasanjo as they are ageing and also facing the challenges of governance."


Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State described the untimely death of Stella as shocking.
A statement signed by Chief Press Secretary (CPS)to the governor, Mr. Lasisi Olagunju described the First Lady as "a mother with a great passion for the children and the under-priviledged ones and has touched the lives of many Nigeria's children."


Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State said the death of the First Lady was a national loss
Saraki, according to a press statement from his Chief Press Secretary, Bisi Abidoye expressed shock and anguish at the incident and prayed God to grant Obasanjo, her immediate family and the nation the fortitude to bear the loss.


 The governor described the Stella as a symbol of motherhood who used the privilege of her position to tend to the underprivileged children and call the attention to their needs.
He said the nation would miss her dearly for her contribution to the rights of the children on the society.
The government has opened a condolence register at the Government House for sympathisers to commiserate with the first family.


Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo state described Stella’s death as a rude shock.
Ladoja expressed regrets that Stella had to die at this point in the nation’s history when she was rendering selfless service to the nation.


The Governor in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy said the nation would greatly miss the deceased contributions to the country as a woman as well as a mother to the needy and the homeless.


Ogun State Government yesterday described the sudden demise of the first lady, as a monumental loss to the nation and Ogun State in partical.


The state governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, said in her six years as Nigeria’s first lady, Stella  demonstrated total commitment to the upliftment of the status of Nigerian children through her Child Care Trust Fund and was a firm pillar of support for her husband.


Daniel in a statement issued by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Niran Malaolu, said "it is a sad day for Nigeria. It is a sad day for Ogun State."
The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Muktar Shagari urged the president to bear the loss, assuring that the whole nation is with him. "I will like Mr. President to know that today all Nigerians are with him.


 We are praying for him and we are praying for the late First Lady. She was an amiable person, a likeable person, a very strong pillar to Mr President and the nation. This to us is a great loss, a great tragedy.
All I can say is that we will continue to pray so that her soul will rest in peace".
Also, yesterday, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade described the death of Stella as a great loss to the nation.


Stella was the Yeye-Oranmiyan of Ile-Ife before her death.
Oba Sijuwade who is currently in London in a statement by his Image-Maker, Chief Funmilola Olorunnisola said that, the royal majesty has despatched a delegation to Obasanjo.


In his own condolence message, the Leader of Oranmiyan group of Alliance for Democracy (AD)in Osun state, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola described the death of Stella as a terrible blow to Nigeria health care system.


Aregbesola in a statement in Osogbo yesterday said that, the death of the first lady should now direct attention to the poor state of tertiary health institutions that cannot take care of the needs of the citizens.


The Turaki Vanguard, a political Movement championing the 2007 Presidential ambition of Vice President Atiku Abubakar has described the news as very devastating and shocking to all members of the organization and the nation at large.


The National Director, Directorate of Media and Communication of the organisation, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said "We are very much touched because this was a woman that stood firmly by the President when he was framed up and put into prison right here in Yola. Other women in her position, could have deserted their husband and probably look out for other places to survive, but this woman was frequenting Yola and showing concerns, contacting people over the plight of her husband", adding that the late Chief Stella remain resolute with faith and struggles until her husband was released and became President again."


"Turaki Vanguard wants to let the President understand that as a child of God and a good Christian, he should grapple with the reality that nothing happens in this world without God’s knowledge. That this has happened, he should take courage particularly considering that one day, we shall all die, but the mystery of our death is something we may never be able to tell."


In her own reaction, the Yeye-Oba of Lagos and wife of Governor Tinubu, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu expressed shock and disbelief over the sudden death of the First Lady.


Mrs. Tinubu said she was with the First Lady when she visited Lagos State recently. As usual, it was an occasion to learn more about life from a sister, a friend and a supporter of my programmes. She was always ready to assist to ensure the success of programmes that would enhance the role and quality of women in our country.


The Peoples Democratic Party  expressed shock while praying God to grant her soul peaceful repose.
The party in a statement in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. John Odey, said, "We are deeply grieved by the sudden death of Her Excellency and pray God to grant her soul peaceful repose. We pray for the husband, family, and the entire nation to be consoled on this irreparable loss."


The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) commiserated with Obasanjo.
In a letter signed by its President, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the NLC said the loss was not only to the First Family but also to the people of Nigeria, for whom she demonstrated great affection and compassion.


While praying for the repose of her soul and for God to give the family the fortitude to bear the loss, the NLC said, "We must take solace in the good life that she lived and the positive way she impacted on Nigeria and Nigerians."
It said "Nigerians will remember the First Lady for her humane, personable, philanthropic and public-spirited disposition. She brought these qualities to bear on her duties as First Lady and complemented the President so well. The Child Care Trust that she founded will remain a worth legacy and monument to her passionate concern for Nigerian children and the underprivileged.


"It is fitting to recall Mrs. Obasanjo's contribution to the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria. She was very visible in the agitation for the freedom of many Nigerians, including Mr. President, who had been illegally imprisoned for their forthright opposition to tyranny."


 

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