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General News of Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Source: Ghanaian Times

"Iron lady" is no more

Hawa Yakubu, the second vice chairperson of the New Patriotic Party, is reported dead in London. She is believed to have been in ill-health for sometime, and reportedly died yesterday morning at home where she was recuperation after undergoing treatment in a South African hospital.

The "Iron Lady", as she was affectionately called, was before her election as second vice-chairperson of the NPP, the Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, a seat she lost to Mahama Ayariga of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Hawa Yakubu was born in Tarkwa in 1948, to Mr. Yakubu Awiraba and Hajia Azore, both from Pusiga in the Bawku District.

On the death of her father, Hawa was torn between continuing her education and getting married in obedience to the wishes of her uncles, but her mother was steadfast and insisted that she attained the highest on the education ladder. Through determination and zeal, Hawa completed Navrongo Secondary School and pursued a catering course at the Accra Polytechnic after which she returned to her alma mater as matron.

Her political career started at an early age when in her twenties, she was elected unopposed to serve on the local council. She served as a member of the Constituent Assembly that wrote the 1979 constitution, being the youngest member.

After the events of the December 31, 1981, military coup, Hawa took refuge in London with her two sons, Felix and Derek, a situation which led to the collapse of her first marriage. This was after her son, Felix had fallen from a storey building and died.

She re-married and had two girls, Amanda and Dieudonee. After a long spell in Britain and Nigeria, Hawa returned to Ghana in 1991 and contested the 1992 elections as an independent candidate and won in the Bawku Central, launching her effectively into the forefront as a role model for women, and a distinct voice in the first Parliament of the fourth Republic which was made up of mainly NDC members.

As a strong member of the opposition in the minority, she became the voice of the voiceless, and emerged an icon in that Parliament. Her role in Parliament made her a much sought-for person, culminating in invitations worldwide to participate in conferences on various subjects. The active role she played in connection with her pet subjects of women’s empowerment, children’s rights, campaign against female genital mutilation, good governance and conflict resolution saw her being elected to serve on many international committees. She was Executive Committee Member of Parliamentarians for Global Action and Coordinating Committees of the Inter Parliamentary Union.

Hawa Yakubu was appointed Minister of Tourism in 2001 and 2002. Until she lost the election in 2004, she was one of Ghana’s representatives to the ECOWAS Parliament, in Abuja, Nigeria. News of her death has been received with such shock and disbelief, that people were reluctant to confirm it.

"It is a sad day for Ghana; she will be greatly missed," said a disconsolate admirer.

"Iron Lady" Hawa Yakubu is dead Accra, March 21, GNA - The death was reported in London on Tuesday of Madam Hawa Yakubu, First Vice President of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Madam Yakubu, popularly known as "Iron Lady" for her resilience, forthrightness, determination to fight, died in a London Hospital after a battle with cancer.

She was a former MP for Bawku Central, Minister of Tourism and Member of the ECOWAS Parliament.

Madam Yakubu, a native of Pusiga in the Upper East Region, was born in Tarkwa in the Western Region on March 24, 1948 to Mr Yakubu Awinaba and Hajia Azore.

She attended the Zebilla Middle School, Navrongo Secondary School and Accra Polytechnic where she obtained a certificate in Institutional Management. She recently obtained a Master's Degree in Leadership and Governance from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.

Madam Yakubu's political career started in 1979 when she was elected into the Local Council, which in turn elected her to the Constituent Assembly that wrote the 1979 Third Republic Constitution. Although her mother was an activist of the Convention People's Party (CPP), she joined the late William Ofori-Atta when he formed the United National Convention (UNC) for the 1979 election won by Dr Hilla Limann of the pro-Nkrumah People's National Party (PNP).

She fled to London when the Provisional National Defence Council came to power on December 1981 and lived in the United Kingdom and Nigeria before returning home in 1991.

Madam Yakubu contested the 1992 parliamentary election as an independent candidate in Bawku Central, which she won. She lost the seat in controversial circumstances and after conceding defeat, left for Cotonou, Benin, where she worked as Executive Director of the GERDDES, an NGO that observes elections. She returned in 2000 to win back the seat but lost it again in 2004.

She had four children, two sons (Felix and Derek) during her first marriage to Mr Amadu Ayebo and two daughters (Amanda and Dieudonne) during her second marriage to defunct Nigeria Airways pilot Hodge Ogede. Felix passed away in 2000.