Former first lady, Maryam Babangida, has died after a prolonged battle with an illness believed to be cancer (Ovarian) at the age of 61. Maryam was married to the former military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. A statement from Babangida’s family announced today that Maryam passed on early this morning after a protracted illness. The statement signed by Babangida’s special assistant, Ibrahim Ismail said the former chairperson of the Better Life for Rural Women during her husband’s years in office had been hospitalised for ovarian cancer at University of California Los Angele’s (UCLA) Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, United States. “She died beside her husband, General Babangida who has been at her bedside in the US hospital till her death.” the family said. He got married to the former president (then a major and on the Biafran/Nigerian civil warfront) on September 6, 1969 many years before he became head of state and they had four children: 2 boys, and two girls namely, Mohammed, Aminu, Aisha and Halima. Maryam was born in November, 1948 in her hometown Asaba where she got early education before proceeding to Queen Amina’s College Kaduna for her Secondary education. She finished as a Secretary at the Federal Training Centre, Kaduna and later got a secretarial diploma from from Laselle University, Chicago, USA. Apart from a short stop at a vocation in her line of training, before and shortly after marriage, Mrs. Babangida remained a full time housewife, establishing and nurturing the home front until the youngest had fairly come of age. The family made an epitaphic description thus: She is an incisive thinker and passionate lover of nature, gardening, birds and home decorations, she is “a poet’s dream” and with disarming charm and an admirable deft blend of winning wit, quiet confidence and child-like grace, she has brought the institution of first-ladyship out of the closet to active participation in nation building.