The death of Ms Hawa Yakubu, a former Minister of Tourism and former Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central, may not only have come as shocking news to MPs, it has also brought a sense of unity in the House.
Talking to the Times in Parliament yesterday members, across the political divide, were unanimous in recognising her contributions to the country’s democracy credentials.
The MPs, most of them clad in red to mourn their late former colleague, described her death as a great loss to the country.
Ms Yakubu, second Vice Chairperson of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) died on Tuesday morning in London where she was recuperating after undergoing medical treatment in South Africa.
She twice represented her constituency in Parliament, first as independent member between 1993 and 1997 and on the ticket of the NPP from 2000 to 2004.
Abraham Ossei Aidooh (NPP-Tema West) and Deputy Majority Leader described late Yakubu and the late John Achihuwor. (Navrongo Central) as the gem of democracy in the first parliament of the fourth republic.
“When I first met late Yakubu on a political platform, she was like a magnet to me, she represented the voice of freedom,” Mr Aidooh said.
Minority Leader, Alban Bagbin described her as a liberated woman and a role model – vibrant, hardworking, assertive and ambitious, saying when she entered Parliament in 1993, she excelled in her work.
Moses Dani-Baah (PNC-Sisala East) described late Hawa as a friend and relative whom he got to know in the 1970s as a sincere, honest and hardworking woman.
Pele Abugah (Paga/Chiana) said the death of Hawa was a great loss to the country as a whole and the North in particular, explaining that she was ambitious, courageous and a mother to all irrespective of one’s political affiliation.
Gifty Kusi (MP – Tarkwa-Nsuaem) and acting Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus said Hawa was her mentor when she first came to Parliament, adding, “When I heard about her death I broke down and wept.”
Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu – Minister of Finance and Economic Planning noted that Hawa was an advocate of women’s empowerment who practically worked to achieve results.“It is unfortunate we have lost her at this stage, she is hard working, we have missed indeed.”
Fuseini Inusah (NDC-Tamale Central) expressed his condolences to the bereaved family adding, “I have not heard anything adverse about Hawa Yakubu since I got to know her.”
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, Hawu 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.
The NPP boycotted the 1991 Parliamentary elections and therefore did not have any representation in Parliament.
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.
Hawu 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.