INTERVIEW: Why We Shouldn’t Lose Hope On Chibok Girls – Funsho Amosun

imageWife of the Ogun State governor, Dr Olufunsho Amosun, celebrated her 50th birthday on Monday. In this interview with journalists at the Government House in Abeokuta over the weekend, she speaks about her projects, life as a governor’s wife and visions for the state, among other issues. DOYIN ADEOYE who was at the interview session, brings the report.

How does it feel being 50 and what is going to change about you now that you’ve attained the golden age?
It feels the same way. But, to be honest, the only point of focus is that I am very grateful to God for the opportunity to attain this milestone, because I know that it is not everybody that attains this age.
I pray nothing changes, aside for the fact that when you attain that age, you become more reflective; you realise that it is actually a privilege to be able to attain the golden age and your perspectives to life changes. Things that might have not been so important to you start becoming important. You just sort of become emotionally more reflective, realising that this is a new phase. But I am just thankful to God, reflecting on where I am, the grace that He has given me, the opportunities, the privilege of good health and I am just thankful to God because he has really been kind to me, even in terms of a husband, lovely children, I can’t just stop counting my blessings and I am just so thankful.

How was growing up for you
I was born on May 2, 1966 to a humble family of Bishop Michael Ayoade Odesanya and Elder Olushola Odesanya. I did half of my primary school education in the United Kingdom and the second half in Ayodele Nursery and Preparatory School, which was in Iyaganku, Ibadan. I then went off to Yejide Girls Grammar School, Molete, Ibadan before I proceeded to the Oyo State School of Art and Science and later to the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, where I studied English Education. And then, I fell in love. I met His Excellency, who then owned an accounting firm and the rest is now history. We have five wonderful children whom we are very proud of.

Your husband has openly said that he is a difficult person to work with and many are also of the opinion that he is a ‘local boy’ which is almost the opposite of who you are. You are sophisticated and western, compared to your husband. Is he really the local boy even as a husband?
My husband is the most loving, practical, responsible and hands-on husband that anybody could ask for and I think that this is what manifests in the way he goes about his duty in loving the people of Ogun State. My husband is in tune with reality and I don’t see him as a local person. I see him as a compassionate, hands-on and responsible husband. After 25 years, I believe that we are one and the same; we complement each other. Maybe we don’t always see eye to eye, however, we always reach a compromise. I don’t think we have ever gone to bed holding on to an argument because he won’t let you.

imageYou are involved in different pet projects aimed at safeguarding the environment, empowering the youths and women, among others. Apart from these, in what other ways do you contribute to the success of the administration in Ogun State?
I would like to hope that, truly, I am complementing or contributing to the success of this administration. I have a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), called the UpLift Development Foundation.
UpLift stands for ‘Understanding People’s Limiting and Inhibiting Factors Today’ and taking it from that aspect, it is about just lending assistance any way you can. So, what drives me is to help the needy, whether the needy is a man, woman, physically challenged person, a child. Once an opportunity opens up to assist, I go for it and I try to the best way that I can.
In that regard, I don’t have a pet project tailored to any particular group. It is intervention in any way that it manifests, and any way that I can complement the administration of the governor, any way I can use the platform as the wife of the governor to improve or assist people that I can. Then I just go for it. So, my pet project if I were to have one is reaching out the vulnerable.

What are those things you have identified as the major needs of our people?
I can’t say that I have identified anything in particular because one of the general problems in the nation as a whole is unemployment and this why, through the green initiative, I have tried to preach to our youths about sustaining the environment where we can actually make a living. There are so many jobs around sustaining the environment and I am trying to stir their minds to be creative and innovative and stop folding their arms.

You recently gathered some boys and girls, young footballers that started in Abeokuta. And many of them are making a headway in football today. Are you still into the vision of catching them young?
Yes, if the opportunity warrants itself again. The last effort we made was in last November. The UpLift Development Foundation has over 20 UpLift programmes, and that means we have more than 20 groups we are attending to and we don’t want to be a jack of all trades and master of none. However, the intervention and the assistance is on a router kind of, unless it is a particular assistance which is for a particular group of people, we tend to think it’s been a long time we’ve reached out to the women or widows.

  1. imageHowever, some are going now. For instance, the UpLifting the aged has been on since the inception of this administration, where we reach out to vulnerable aged, who are over the age of 70 and we give them stipends on a monthly basis just to assist them just to buy their basic needs. So this started this 2012 and is still ongoing.
    Also there is UpLifting the SSS3 students, where the best students in each of our local government area is taken on a leadership programme just to give them further exposure. And that is determined by when they sit for their SSS3 examinations. So things like that are time bound and are done systematically. But when comes to programmes that involves giving hands-on, it first depends on what we have to give and then we take into consideration there is a group that we haven’t reach out to in recent times.

You took a walk last year for the Chibok girls and they are yet to be found. What is your message to Nigerians and our leaders?
The present administration has really focused on security issues, but my message would be that we shouldn’t lose hope. I am concerned about the whereabouts of the children; I am concerned about what they have been subjected to; I am worried that they might not even want to come home anymore, maybe they have becomes wives to these people and brainwashed to believe that that is where they’ll like to live. To be honest, I am lost on that topic; it is something that is very painful but because I have the efforts that the current administration has put into getting these girls back, I think the only thing we can do is to implore mothers across Nigeria to pray on behalf of these children for their safe return.

Source: Nigerian Tribune


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