Little attention has always been accorded the contributions of women in the Nigerian society. From time immemorial, Nigerian women have always striven hard to play a significant role in the evolution and development of our society. Indeed, the modern Nigerian state cannot be discussed without the contributions of Nigerian women. Apart from their reproductive function in ensuring the continuity of the human race and their contributions to Nigeria’s social, political and economic development, some notable women have also exercised prime leadership within their different communities. On this note, we shall x-ray the life and times of two Nigerian women prodigies, Kudirat Abiola and Dr Ameyo Adadevoh. Remember, we have already discussed the unforgettable contributions of Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti, Hajia Sawaba Gambo, Queen Idia, Queen Amina, Ladi Kwali, etc. I will never allow the “labours of our heroes (and heroines) past to be in vain”. Now, read on.
ALHAJA KUDIRAT ABIOLA (1951 – 1996)
Kudirat was born in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria. She was a notable politician. She attended Muslims Girls High School, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, where she was made the Head prefect of her school in her final year. Sources have it that Kudirat did not attend University. She was the second of four wives of her husband, the martyr of our democracy, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola. She had six (6) children. Their names are Yusau Olalekan, Hafsat Olaronke, Abdul Muman, Hadi, Moriam and Khafila. Her husband had several other children. Abiola was a total family man.
KUDIRAT’S LEGENDARY EXPLOITS AND ARRIVAL ON THE NATIONAL SCENE
Kudirat came to limelight as one who fought for the emergence of a just, humane and democratic society and the end of tyrannical rule by the military. It was this same military that mindlessly annulled the freest, fairest and most transparent and credible election which her husband won on June 12, 1993. As a result of this cancellation, Kudirat valiantly protested against violation of human rights of citizens, especially against the illegality of the incarceration of her husband. Kudirat’s participation and energy soon inspired new level activism in Nigeria’s pro-democracy movement. She seized leadership of the struggle, not because of any ambition to be First Lady, as some people had wrongly suggested, but mainly to save her husband from being illegally killed in detention by Abacha; and then much later, to redeem Nigeria out of the grip of one of the most dangerous military dictatorships and rotten governments ever known to man. I was on the streets with her and other genuine Pro-democracy Activists, not turn-coat-bread and butter Activists that vacillate from one government to another.
Alhaja Kudirat mobilized market women, students, Activists, civil society and other human rights communities to fight for the struggle for democracy and human rights. Despite her vulnerability, Kudirat provided clear leadership in the period of general confusion, fear, suspense and misperception, following the annulment of the 1993 general election. She fought on, went ahead, with the conviction of a wounded lioness, that the military’s treasonable action amounted to violation of fundamental rights of Nigerians to freely elect their government. Her participation led to a new level of awareness and activism in Nigeria, while her husband was still in jail on charges of treason.
EXIT OF A LEGEND
On 4th June, 1996, at about 3:05pm, one of the most criminal, brutral, absurd and despicable murders in Nigeria was carried out. A sparkling white Mercedes Benz V-Boot was cruising along the streets of Lagos. As the car slowed down around 7-Up Depot/Bus Stop in Ikeja, Kudirat and her aids were attacked by six men who suddenly opened fire on the German machine. Mrs. Abiola, her Assistant, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan (who had just been released by the Police) and driver were in the car.
The assassins approached her car and brazenly opened gunfire. The vehicle came to a screeching halt as the driver was hit. A bullet flying from nowhere lodged itself in Kudirat’s forehead, penetrating her skull and smashing her brains. She was said to have lost consciousness and was rushed in that state to the Eko Hospital for urgent medical attention. All efforts made by the medical team to save her life failed. Kudirat Abiola died, with a gaping bullet wound on her forehead. She was only 44. Her driver too did not survive the attack. Both were shot at close range. Before the killing, Kudirat Abiola had complained of threats to her life and that she was being trailed by unknown men. No one in authority cared. Because they were the ones doing just that.
That was how the life of this young amazon, this pathfinder of women liberation, this fearless, dogged, courageous and daring rights Activist was murdered in cold blood. She died. But, she is not forgotten. God grant her aljannah Firdaus. Amin.
As David was a savior to Israel, so was Ameyo Adadevoh was a savior in Nigeria, to many Nigerians.
Ameyo popularly referred to as “Dr Adadevoh”, was the first of four children born to Professor Babatunde Kwaku Adadevoh (deceased) of the renowned Adadevoh family of Anyako Royal House, Ghana and the Crowther/Macaulay family of Lagos, Nigeria and Deborah Regina McIntosh of the Nnmadi Azikiwe (President of Nigeria 1963-1966) and Smith/Wilkey families of Lagos, Nigeria, on 27th October, 1956, in Lagos, Nigeria.
She began her academic career at Mainland Preparatory Primary School in Yaba, Lagos in 1961. In 1962, Ameyo’s parents temporarily relocated to Boston, Massachusetts in the United States of America where Ameyo spent two years in school.
Upon the family’s return to Nigeria in 1964, she continued her education at Corona School, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria, until 1968, and then began secondary school at Queens School, Ibadan, Nigeria, where she finished in 1974, with a distinction of honours in her West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Exams. In 1980, at the age of just 24, Ameyo qualified as a medical doctor with a Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from the University Of Lagos College Of Medicine. Upon graduation, she finished a one year mandatory Houseman-ship at Lagos University Teaching Hospital and subsequently completed her National Youth Service Corps assignment in 1982, at the Eti-Osa Health Centre in Lagos, Nigeria.
Adadevoh later married Afolabi Emmanuel Cardoso on 26th April, 1986, and their union was blessed with a son, Bankole Cardoso, on 17th August, 1988.
ADADEVOH’S UNFORGETTABLE EXPLOITS AND ARRIVAL ON EMERGENCE ON NIGERIA’S CONSCIOUSNESS
In 2012, H1N1 (swine flu) had spread to Lagos, Nigeria and Dr. Adadevoh was the first doctor to diagnose and alert the Ministry of Health. Less than 2 years later, she was again the first doctor to identify another most contagious virus – Ebola. Ebola ravaged the world, even America.
On July 20, 2014, one Mr Patrick Sawyer, Nigeria’s first Ebola patient, left quarantine in Liberia, and flew to Lagos, Nigeria, to attend a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He collapsed at the airport in Lagos and was immediately rushed to First Consultants Medical Centre (FCMC), the private hospital where Dr. Adadevoh then worked. Under normal circumstances as an ECOWAS official, he should have been taken to a government hospital, but the doctors at all government health facilities were then on an indefinite strike so he was taken to FCMC. This was God’s hand to save Nigerians.
The first doctor at FCMC who saw Mr. Sawyer diagnosed him with malaria. When Dr. Adadevoh saw him during her ward round the following day, she suspected Ebola, despite the initial malaria diagnosis and the fact that neither she, nor any other doctor in Nigeria, had ever seen Ebola patient before. Dr. Adadevoh questioned Mr. Sawyer about having contact with anyone with Ebola, which he denied. Being the thorough Clinician she was, she immediately contacted the Lagos State and Federal Ministries of Health and got him tested for Ebola.
While waiting for the test results, the patient and other Liberian government officials began insisting that Dr. Adadevoh discharge Mr. Sawyer so he could attend the ECOWAS conference. She bluntly refused. They threatened to sue her for kidnapping and violating his human rights (holding him against his will because she did not have a confirmed diagnosis), but this amazon of a liberator continued to resist their relentless pressure. She insisted that “for the greater public good”, she would not release him. Adadevoh immediately created an isolation area, despite the lack of protective equipment, by carving out a wooden barricade outside Patrick Sawyer’s door. Her heroic efforts saved the nation from widespread infection. Neither Nigeria, nor Lagos state were ready for Mr Sawyer. Dr Adadevoh and her team did what they could do with the limited resources and supplies they had in the hospital to treat Mr. Sawyer. Eventually, Sawyer’s Ebola diagnosis was later confirmed, and he died at FCMC.
AND THIS HER PAINFUL PREMATURE EXIT
Dr Adadevoh herself surrendered to the Ebola Virus Disease whilst in quarantine and passed away on 19th August, 2014, in Lagos, Nigeria. Her body was decontaminated and cremated by the government in response to the curtailment of the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease. Her family obtained her ashes and held a private interment ceremony in Lagos on 12th September, 2014. Dr Adadevoh, Nigerians will never forget you. You died for her. You paid the supreme price. God bless your soul. Amen.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Leadership is a mindset in action. So don’t wait for the title. Leadership isn’t something that anyone can give you – you have to earn it and claim it for yourself”. (Travis Bradberry).
Hope Nigerians are reading, digesting and awaiting the next explosive discourse of Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., LL.D, PhD.
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