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Nigeria: Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, former first lady, is dead

by Theophile
Former first lady, Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi

Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi (21 November 1923 – 23 August 2021), wife of the late Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, first Nigerian military head of state, has died at the age of 97.

Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, who served as First Lady between January and July 1966, was 97. She died on Monday at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia in Abia State.

Her husband, Aguiyi-Ironsi, was killed in Ibadan, Oyo State, on July 29, 1966, in one of Nigeria’s bloodiest coups.

She reportedly never remarried and had eight children who were taken and cared for by nuns in Ibadan during the Nigerian civil war.

‘Exceptional courage’

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has extended his deepest condolences to the Aguiyi-Ironsi family, and government and people of Abia State on the passing.

“The President affirms that Lady Victoria’s incredible strength and exceptional courage during one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history pedestals her as a mother of the nation, God-fearing and a foremost woman of valour,” a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina, said.

“The President notes that the former First Lady will be remembered for laying a solid foundation for women’s leadership role in the seat of power and as a founding member of the Nigerian Army Officers’ Wives Association; she passionately championed the welfare and wellbeing of families of military officers.

“The President recognises that 55 years after the death of General J.T Aguiyi-Ironsi, Lady Victoria never stopped working for the greater good of Nigeria, and for peace, stability, healing and reconciliation in the land.

“The President sincerely hopes that Lady Victoria’s labours for the country will not be in vain, and joins all Nigerians in praying for the repose of the soul of the departed and comfort for those who mourn.”

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