She was one woman whose love for children was not only legendary but simply unquantifiable. In fact, nothing best encapsulates this more than the role she played in the upbringing of Patience Jonathan, Nigeria’s first lady. Indeed, the late Charity Iwari-Oba, foster mother of Patience came into the first lady’s life at a time she needed motherly love the most having lost her own mother as a young girl.
And she played that role effectively until she died on Monday, July 22, 2013. Iwari-Oba who was warmly referred to as Sisi by her children and relatives died in an auto crash along Isiokpo–Elele area on the East–West Road on her way to Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. She was in company of her driver and two others when the accident occurred. She was said to be on her way to check progress on the renovation work going on at her house, which she vacated as a result of the 2012 flooding incident.
The late foster mother of the first lady hailed from the Iwari compound of Oba Dokume House of Okrika in Okrika Local Government area of Rivers State. She was the second wife of Lazarus Iwari-Oba a chief of the same locality.
Since her death, condolence messages have been pouring in from the high and the mighty. Prominent among them is Chibuike Amaechi, Rivers State governor. “The demise of a loved one leaves us feeling hollow and alone yet in the midst of the pain, we must not forget that we are Christians and therefore should not mourn like those without hope,” Amaechi said.
He added that, “it is our firm belief that our beloved Sisi has gone to a better place. Her charity and faith remain a hallmark not just in Oba-Ama and Okrika but everywhere she lived. Seriake Dickson, Bayelsa State governor, and Emmanuel Uduaghan, his Delta State counterpart, in their condolence messages to the first family, described the death of Iwari-Oba as a great blow and an irreparable loss to her immediate family and the nation as a whole. Similarly, Liyel Imoke, the Cross River State governor sympathised with the President and his wife on the death of the mother of the first lady. Imoke described Iwari-Oba’s death as painful and unfortunate.
In the same vein, Titilayo Abubakar, wife of Atiku Abubakar, former vice president, conveyed her sympathy to the first lady. She prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear the loss.