Call her a cat with nine lives and you`re sure saying the truth. That’s honourable Adijat, a member of the Ogun State House of Assembly and Chairman House Services Committee. The woman of substance no doubt corroborates the popular cliché that says he who dares wins. The woman of bravery in case you`re not in the know served meritoriously during the immediate past administration led by Otunba Gbenga Daniel as a PDP stalwart and no sooner she suspected where the pendulum was swinging to than she pitched her tent to the party of the day, ACN where she was eventually voted to represent her constituency once again. After so many cancelled appointments, our News Editor, Faith Irabor finally caught up with her where she spoke on sundry issues you would love to read.
Thank God we are finally doing this interview after countless cancelled appointment?
I`m so sorry about that, let me really first of all say that, let me tender my apology, I`m usually reluctant to give appointments, like yesterday I gave some people appointment to come down here because I thought we were going to sit but unfortunately the US embassy where we had a request for appointment called and said the appointment of most of the members was yesterday and as the Chairman House Services Committee, a committee that has to do with the welfare of the members, I`m like the Chief Protocol of this House, so I had to go with them even when my appointment was not for yesterday, I had to go with them because I had to make sure that things work out fine, everyone is fine and all that. So yesterday I was not in the office and people got here, you know, to discover that I am not here and they will now be calling me, and maybe I might not be where I can pick their calls, can you see what I mean, such people will have another perception of me. So that takes care of why I've not made your date.
Can you tell us about it, how has it been?
Since the beginning of this Legislature, the 7th Legislative House which is now a year and over 4 months now, we`ve not had any international legislative workshop or seminar in fact we`ve not even had local, the only local we had was organized by the House itself, we organized that under this committee the House Legislative Committee because there is something we usually set aside every month to do, that's in-house, so when we felt like okay the money can pay for a workshop for us, we did that in-house, so this is about the first one that we will be going as Legislators, as part of the government because it`s the government itself that is financing this and I`m very sure you would have heard of other states that have been travelling even in Oyo state that even the wives travels, we don`t have that luxury here, you know Ogun State is working on a very tight budget, so we don`t have that luxury and we understand that.
So what are we going to be expecting?
Like when we did the in-house thing, at least my colleagues testified that they were able to learn a lot of things there in terms of legislative processes, you know we have more new members now, we are just 6 returning members, 20 members are new and no one was born with experience, you gather experience over time, it`s a continuous learning process, so we believe by the time we go and come back, we actually have a school that we will be going, so it`s not just sightseeing, we are going to be in class for some days, you know learning about their own process over there, then we can now compare that and see the one that can work for us because we cannot just go and import their own system there, you know there is a saying in Yoruba that it is the seed that can germinate on a particular land that you plant there so whatever we learn there, we'll compare it with what we have here then we can now juxtapose and see the ones that can work for us.
You said you are one of the few returning officers, did you see it coming easily especially because you're from the opposition party I mean the PDP and now ACN?
No, it was count down to the general election so I was not in the opposition when I was in PDP, the PDP was the ruling party in the state now the ACN is the ruling party in the state.
How were you able to adjust?
My lifestyle has been about God, you know allowing God to take charge of whatever I am doing, allowing God to chart my path, you know, and whatever you are seeing at any point in time in me is about God, it's what God is doing, you know some people will say oh you are so wise, you know, the time is not about me, it's not my decision it was God`s decision and whatever I want to do I put it before God.
You did not think of the risk that what if you don`t not win?
Wow! I`m not a desperate politician, at a point during my campaign, I got somewhere and they told me you did this you did that and I said all I did, I did in the interest of this constituency and I stood right in front of them in an open place and said look, all I did, if I had not done it in the interest of my constituency, if I had any thought of making quick money here or because of what I wanted to gain or what I wanted to make or I did anything deliberately to destroy the government of the day, then that God should use the election then to judge me and to God be the glory today, I am back here, so I believe in whatever I do, see I have been through some things in life that have shaped my reasoning, so if I pursue something and it's not working out I believe there is something ahead that is wrong that God doesn`t want me to see that probably there is an evil ahead and God do not want me to go through that or perhaps there is something better for me, so it's in two ways, it's probably there is something better ahead that if I take this then I won`t be able to get that one or there is an evil ahead and God just want to keep me somewhere so that I will not see that evil so I don`t disturb myself.
We are all learning everyday, what did you take from the previous administration that you took as a watch word that is still working for you now and what has changed about you?
My take has always been doing my best you know adding value to the people, I believe it's not money that makes you a wealthy person but the positive impact you have in the life of others so I put impacting into the lives of people first ahead of any other thing, I put it ahead of money, if you put what will affect people before me and put money by the side I will tell you I want to pick that thing that will edge my name in the minds of the people, I want people to talk about me, yes in life you cannot satisfy everybody no matter what you do except you are dead even people talk evil of the dead but if I can sit down and weigh my options, weigh what I`ve done, my actions and I`m justified, and my conscience within me justifies me, you know, I`m good to go; you know there at times you do some things and people will be hailing you but your conscience will not allow you to rest, because your conscience will let you know that what you have done is wrong, but there are time you do some things and your conscience no matter what people are saying, your conscience will be telling you, you`ve done the right thing, along the line they will get to know that what you have done was the best at that point in time.
You are a mother, wife, politician and a career woman, how do you merge up?
It`s not easy, I won`t lie to you It's not an easy thing at all
Because when we got here, you were sipping tea, is it about tea here?
No, it wasn`t about tea and that is the first thing I will take today
How do you merge on?
It's not something that is easy, it takes the understanding of your family, your husband, your children, your relatives, your close relatives.
How do you make sure one part is not lacking?
Like presently my kids are in boarding school, ordinarily at their age as a mother I wouldn`t want my kids to be in boarding but because I also do not want a situation whereby I won`t be around and some people will now turn my kids to something else, I believe where they are they are at least 70 to 80% safer than if I just leave them somewhere, you know I`ve tried the issue of maybe getting housemaid, you know, it has not really worked out well for me and in the school we just made a special arrangement that we can pick them on any week end that we feel like oh let them come home, so that is one of the challenges
You don`t miss them?
Why won`t I miss them I have two girls and the fact is they are my world.
How old is the eldest?
The eldest is ten.
They are my world.
So what`s the best thing she says to you whenever you talk to her on phone that keeps you going?
Let me tell you this, the last week end they came home and on Sunday I had a programme, I had a place I was supposed to go, I was supposed to come to Abeokuta for another meeting and then she was saying she doesn`t want to return to school on that Sunday and I said you have to return and she said no, meanwhile I could have left them but their dad told me already that he was going somewhere, so I knew he might not really have the time to return them, he was the one that went to pick them so I had to leave them at home, when I was leaving the eldest burst into tears crying that I should not go but duty calls, I had to go, I appealed to her, I pleaded with her, at the end of the day she calmed down but immediately my car moved out of the compound she started crying again, after I left, she called me on phone and asked when I was coming back home, and I don`t really like seeing tears on my children because it breaks my heart.
So how do you compensate them?
Oh wow, we compensate them now with outings, maybe summer holidays you know buying things for them but the fact is no matter what you do even without them wanting you to do it nothing can be exchanged for the motherly love that you will give to them when you are there but unfortunately because of the way Nigeria is today that the husband must work, the wife must work if you are not careful even the children must work.
This interview will be incomplete if I don`t ask this question, the issue of the governor ordering the demolition of one of your houses, can you talk about it?
I wouldn`t want to talk about that again.
Is it true?
Yes, it was a 2 bedroom BQ (boys quarter), you know our quarters the way it is structured is 2 bedroom and I have youth corpers and I usually give them accommodation, I accommodate any corper that is attached to my office, you know they usually attach corpers to us like legislative assistants and all that, then I had a cousin that was posted to Ogun State, usually I don`t take male corpers, I only take female coppers, he was posted to Ogun State but not to the House and in as much as he was posted to Ogun State he has to live in my quarters now, I had just 2 bedroom, I was using one, the other was for corpers that were already attached to me before he came in, there was nowhere to live so some of them were sleeping in the sitting room and I just felt for what reason, why, let me just do something behind, a 2 bedroom boys quarter, at least my driver can stay there, even if my driver is not staying there if I have any reason to accommodate anybody even not necessary a corper now, for me I`m a woman, so if you are a lady even if we are 10 if there are enough space we can all stay there, I`m a very caring person so that was what I was doing, I don`t even know whom they were, it was on a Sunday, they came in through the back fence move down a part of my fence and came in through there.
Were you notified?
Like I was saying, no, I was not aware, so when I got to know, my take was if it`s the government they will come in through the main entrance which does not even have a gate, for anybody to have come in through the back fence must have probably been that they have come to do something else and when they did not meet at home they decided to destroy something but since the Urban and Physical Region has come up to say they are the one that did it though not without letting them know that it was wrong, whether they agreed or not I don`t care, if they can do that to me then what will they do to an outsider, you know it is very wrong, even if I was wrong in what I`ve done, two wrongs they say do not make a right, even if they had wanted to pull it down, there must have been a formal notification via a letter but they didn`t even wait for the completion, like I am saying I want to put that behind, I just want to move one.
And what has that taught you?
Wow! You know you learn every day, I have learnt a lesson that I might not be able to tell you now.
You don`t want me to learn from what you`ve learnt no problem?
So what should your loved ones expect from you, the year is running to an end, any project for your constituency?
Well, presently I`m doing my constituency project which is a block of 3 classrooms in one of my wards, Okeare Ibaragun ward, I have forgotten the name of the area exactly now but aside that I`ve done a bit because I believe to whom much is given much is expected, like I set up a free ICT Training Centre, we have shift in the morning and in the afternoon, presently we have 24 systems there for the software, we have the hardware section too, the hardware section takes 10 at a time so for the 2 sections that is 20, the software section is 24, it`s a student to a system, they don`t pay a dime even the handout they are using they don`t pay for it, so last month the first set, because it is a 3 month programme, the first set rounded up, they are about 60 because some of them dropped out along the way, so I think we have 60 of them even when my system had issue it was my student that fixed it, you know, the thought behind that is we have some graduates who do not have any job yet but they can do something with that, outside that now the world is a global village there is no where you are going to apply for job that they will not ask you if you are computer literate, most of our youths are still not observing it so you just go in there instead of just running round you know, go in there do your learning 3 months without paying any kobo, except probably if where you are coming from is far, then you have to transport yourself.
Finally what would want to be remembered for?
For the lives I have touched positively.
It`s been nice chatting with you
You are welcome.