Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, who served as First Lady between January and July 1966, was 97-year-old when she died on Monday at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia in Abia State.
She married Aguiyi-Ironsi as a 16-year-old student of Holy Rosary Convent School, Okigwe. Her husband was killed in Ibadan, Oyo State, on July 29, 1966, in a coup, and she never remarried.
Victoria had eight children who were taken and cared for by nuns in Ibadan during the Nigerian civil war. She would have been 98 on November 21, 2021.
President Buhari Mourns Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi
In a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari described the deceased as a God-fearing and foremost woman of valour who never stopped working for the greater good of Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari extends deepest condolences to the Aguiyi-Ironsi family, and government and people of Abia State on the passing of Chief Mrs Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, wife of the first military Head of State, Major General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi.
“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.
“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.”
Her death is coming shortly after another first lady, Hadiza Shagari, wife of former President Shehu Shagari, died of COVID-19 complications at the Gwagwalada Isolation Center in Abuja.