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You are the Director of Education, Ibadan South West Local Government Area, Oyo State. How has it been since you got into the office?
It is a call to duty, which no doubt, must be discharge diligently with my whole heart. By training, I am a community development officer. Our focus is to sensitize people about governmental activities and when there is a call for action, we mobilise. Issues relating to non-governmental organisation (NGO) are not left out. This department has witnessed great achievement and we are not relenting to contribute our quota for the upliftment of the local government and the state at large.
What has been your experience as a woman in authority?
We thank God for the post Beijing Conference, which gave us women the privilege to rub shoulders with men in our various fields and not remain under the armpits of men, like in the olden days. In fact, in this generation of ours, the best person for any job is a woman. It has been observed that women always discharge their duties diligently. Some people also describe us as strict and ready for action when it comes to discharging responsibility. Personally, when it comes to discharging my duties, it is not a matter of bragging, I remain focused and I do my work diligently.
How do you manage the staffers under you?
We are in the era of democracy and if you want to be a leader, you must be a servant as well. So, it is all about leadership by example. If I want them to carry out any assignment, they will see me doing it first; by this they don’t have any excuse not to do it as well. I also encourage participation because I cannot do it all, regardless of my level of education. I still believe in giving positive regard to the opinions and initiatives of my subordinate officers and that has become my style.
In the political sense, do you think the presence of women is really felt in the government of today?
I am a civil servant, not a politician but I think the place of women is gradually improving unlike in the past. The 30 per cent affirmative action, I still believe, is too small for women because we occupy the significant percentage of the population. With this, I believe if not 50/50, 60/40 should be the best option. I do encourage women not to be a liability to any man but to have the economic power and prerequisite qualification which will make them stand out and allow them to contest for any post. This will make them dare any man in acquiring their desired aim.
How was your growing up like?
I was born into the family of Alhaja Awanat Jejelola and late Chief Olaleke Lameed Lawal, the former Chairman of Egbeda Local Government Area, whose legacy has always been my watchword. I was really impacted by him, despite his large home; I mean a polygamous family, it was a very large happy family. Despite various challenges, my parents succeeded in building the home with oneness and I have never regretted I was an offspring of the family.
Polygamous families, for many, are prone to chaos and series of challenges, but it appears yours was different. How did that happen?
Even if it a nuclear family, it is possible to experience chaos. A home is dependant on the largeness but on the attitude of those who make it. My mum is the first wife and you can imagine the kind of challenges she encountered, but she has always been supportive and enduring to sustain and keep the home. In fact, we the children had a solid relationship; some people find it difficult to believe that we are not from the same mother. The family is very popular in Ibadan and there has never been any negative record whatsoever. I believe those that opted for polygamy must have had reasons for it. If you veer into polygamy out of promiscuity and disguise, you cannot get something worthwhile from it. However, if you have the fear of God coupled with equity there is high tendency that the home will be at peace. Although, I have never supported polygamy because many have one way or the other suffered from it. I cherish my own nuclear family because there is absolute peace.
Does that mean you will embrace polygamy because of the awesome experience your parents had?
No. I will never embrace polygamy. Like I said earlier, I love and cherish my nuclear family. I don’t have to embrace or encourage polygamy because I was brought up in it. The world is changing and we are in a different generation. Many homes of this generation might not sustain polygamy because of the many challenges.
Don’t you think your father’s political career spurred you into politics?
(Laughs) Precisely! I am not a politician, but a civil servant. I gained a lot from my father, his political career and service to humanity and the state at large has really helped my career. He was my guide and mentor before he passed away. In fact, some of his associates like the former governor of Oyo State, Papa Lam Adesina, have always been around me. To be precise I am not a politician but a civil servant and I am committed to my service.
What makes an ideal woman?
There is no ideal woman because we are all human. We can never be perfect in all things, we can only strive to attain it. But as women, we need to be focused, discover ourselves and what we intend to achieve. An ideal woman must she takes care of her entire home. Your husband will be interest of the children at heart. Your husband will be interested in your success the more you take care and respect him. I got to know my husband as an NCE holder and to the glory of God, today, I am a PhD holder. I could achieve this through his support and words of encouragement. I also submitted myself to him and never allowed anything to get into my head. The Yoruba culture does not approve of a woman without a head. If you are not under a man, irrespective of whom or what you are, you are a deviant.
Will you say he is the ideal man you dreamt having?
You need to know the kind of man I married. He is God-fearing and interested in my success. My future is important to him and that of his children as well. Some men will not allow their wives to flourish but Alhaji Jubril Alaga’s case is not like that, he shows me love and encourages me at all times. Presently, he encouraged me to obtain a law form because I have always dreamt of becoming a lawyer. I don’t have a doubt that he is my ideal man. He is a good listener and a disciplinarian. I adore him because I see the good qualities I need in him. Our marriage will be 17 years old this month.
What is your take on women who do not want to live under a man?
There are so many things that are attached to this. It could be either as a result of experience, background or environmental factor. But irrespective of any challenges, I want every woman to have it at the back of her mind that it is compulsory for every woman be under the umbrella of a man and they must also ensure to sustain the marriage, no matter how difficult it is. I am appealing to them to develop coping skills in their marital life not for the husband per se but for the sake of the children. I don’t mean that they should compromise happiness because many challenges in the home have caused high blood pressure and various sicknesses to some women. So, if it gets to a situation they cannot control, I’ll advise them to not lose their dignity but to remain focused, empower themselves and train their children because that is their future but I will encourage women to keep their marriages and remain in it if they can develop coping skills.
What does your weekend look like?
I party a lot, but these days I hardly attend parties. Since the completion of my PhD programme, I have had to put a lot of things in order and also present papers. Most importantly, I have to take care of my husband, because he comes home at weekends.
Your favourite fashion designers?
Home of Trendy here in Ibadan is my favourite fashion designer. I think with my meagre salary as a civil servant, I can still cope. Mama T is also a good fashion designer, you know it is ideal to have more than one fashion designer because they can make one crazy at times.