Ghanaians from all walks of life have expressed shock at the death of Madam Hawa Yakubu, a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central.
They said her loss was a big blow not only to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of which she, until her death, was the First National Vice Chairperson, but also to all and sundry because of her affable and philanthropic nature.
Reports from Bawku, where she was the MP from 1993 to 2000, was one of general mourning and sombre mood among the residents who said they had lost a mother, a philanthropist, a role model and a political stalwart.
The Chairman of the NPP, Mr Peter Mac Manu, who was in London at the time of the death of the ex-MP, told the Daily Graphic that the demise of Madam Yakubu was a great loss not only to the party but also to the entire nation.
He said Madam Yakubu, who died on Tuesday, championed the cause of women in all stages of her life and stood for the values of freedom of speech, property-owning democracy and support for the poor and vulnerable in society.
Mr Mac Manu said the party received with shock the unpleasant news of the demise of a great and an illustrious daughter of the nation and an astute woman politician.
“Indeed a great tree has fallen, the nation has lost a fearless, brave, articulate, sympathetic, charismatic and a mother who would be fondly remembered by all,” he added.
He said the family was awaiting the post-mortem report, which would be ready within the next 48 hours before she would be flown back to Ghana for her burial, an arrangement which had always been her wish.
A statement by the Convention People's Party (CPP) said her death was a big blow to Ghanaians in general and women in particular.
“The CPP recalls the major role she played on the local and the international political scene, with her influence stretching from Liberia to Nigeria, where she was a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, chairing the important Transportation Committee,” the statement signed by the National Chairman, Dr Edmund Delle, said.
It expressed the hope that the youth in Ghana would emulate her good works and build upon her legacy.
In Parliament, MPs described the death of Madam Yakubu as shocking and the loss of a political gem.
All the MPs came to the floor of the House with red bands around their necks to mourn their departed former colleague, with some of them wearing mourning clothes.
Various MPs who spoke to the Daily Graphic were unanimous in their description of the deceased: “She was generous and an astute politician who worked hard to make sure that she achieved whatever she believed in”.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic at Bolgatanga, the Regional Director of the Department of Women at the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs, Madam Paulina Abayage, described the death as very devastating.
“Women in the north are naturally not supposed to be heard but she (Hawa) stood out tall against that status quo and gave voice to the voiceless and mentored a lot of people, including myself,” Madam Abayage said.
Residents of Bawku could be seen in groups discussing the unfortunate demise of the woman, popularly called the “Iron Lady” due to her tough and vocal stance on issues of national concern.
Mr Amadu-Karim, a personal secretary to the late Hawa Yakubu from 1992-96 and also her campaign manager in the 2004 general election, also described the death of the former MP as a great loss to the party and the country.
Madam Hawa Yakubu's political life began in the 1970s but it was not until 1992 when she stood and won as an independent candidate in the parliamentary election in her area that she came to the limelight.
In 1979, Madam Yakubu joined Paa Willie, Adu Boahen and R. R. Amponsah to form the United National Convention (UNC). She contested the 1979 elections and lost.
She sought political asylum in London after the December 31, 1981 coup, had a long spell in Britain and Nigeria and came home in 1991 to contest the 1992 elections.
She contested as an independent candidate for the Bawku Central seat and won, becoming the lone voice in Parliament from 1993 to 1996 - the House was dominated by the NDC and its partners in an alliance.
When the NPP decided to contest the general election in 1996, she stood on the party's ticket and again won the seat.
She won the seat in 2000 and when the NPP assumed power in 2001, she was appointed Minister of Tourism, a position she later resigned to take up membership of the ECOWAS Parliament.
In the 2004 elections, Madam Yakubu lost her seat in a keen contest to Mahama Ayariga of the NDC.
A native of Pusiga in the Bawku District, she was in active politics and this was not surprising because her mother was the women's organiser of the CPP in her district.
Madam Yakubu was elected unopposed to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1979 Constitution, and the only one out of five people to be elected, with the rest getting their positions by appointment.
She attended Navrongo Secondary School and continued to the Accra Polytechnic to study Catering. She went back to the Navrongo Secondary School to work as the Domestic Bursar.
While there, she doubled as a Housemistress for the girls.
She is survived by three children.
Story by Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah
& Donald Ato Dapatem