Wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has said she is not defined by her office as the First Lady but by the various interventions that she has made to impact on humanity.
Mrs Akeredolu said this on Thursday while playing host to the staff of Globus Bank Limited, Alagbaka Branch, Akure, who paid a courtesy call to her office at Alagbaka Akure, Ondo State Capital.
The First Lady said, “I belong to the school of thought that sermonizes the hashtag, #womensupportingwomen, and that has been my life. Check my trajectory and you would see that I am following the footsteps of my mother and grandmother who were very strong women and played leadership roles in their communities. So I’m not doing these things because I am a First Lady; that is who I am.
“I believe that a woman has a better understanding of the issues affecting women, either positive or negative. I also believe that a woman should be able to speak for fellow women for things to be better given the low status of many Nigerian women. And I am speaking generally because the issue cuts across. From that pepper seller on the street to the professor. We have to change the low rating attitude towards women in this country. First of all, the education for behavioural change should even target women themselves.”
The Governor’s wife who also re-emphasised that neither the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria nor the Bemore Empowered Initiative depends on government to fund its programmes, said she has been able to sustain her programmes through innovative fund raising skills.
In her words, “I champion quite a number of initiatives, and people find it incredible when we say that these programmes are not sponsored by the government of Ondo State but by well meaning Nigerians.
Starting with the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) which was established in 1997, I have been on cancer advocacy for over two decades before I became a First Lady. And up to now, we have sustained our mode of operation and funding strategies.
“If you are a founder of an NGO in this country and you have not honed your skills in fundraising, you are not likely to survive after one year. As of now, maybe one or two states have seen cancer as a serious issue. You can then imagine how futile it would be to think of depending on government for sponsorship. It required somebody who was already operating on that space to create the awareness that we now have about breast cancer in the state.”
While also commenting on the impacts of the Bemore Empowered Initiative, Mrs Akeredolu said Bemore was an experiment that has turned out to be amazing. According to the First Lady, “Another programme that has been widely successful to our greatest surprise is the Bemore Empowered Initiative.
“It’s like Bemore wants to overtake BRECAN, but then, BRECAN is my first baby. However, Bemore is widely successful and we are very happy about that. It is a citizen-driven programme but you have to pay for it because of what it entails and start-up packages. What Bemore does to the girls is to set them on a journey of self- discovery, on a journey of self awareness, and on a journey of having the ‘I can do’ spirit. It is amazing the level of transformation we have seen in these girls. It was an experiment that has turned out to be simply amazing.”
The Governor’s wife who said the Foundation for Wives of Ondo State Officials and Female political appointees (FOWOSO) was a unique idea conceived to empower women mentally and financially, stressed the need to invest in girls to fill the gaps which exist in the fields of science and technology, ICT and solar technology, saying, “We have seen the gaps. The gender gap in Science and Technology and especially in the areas of ICT and Solar Technology. And myself having interest in these areas, I am confident that we can make a difference.
“Much as we try to bridge the gaps, I believe it is a woman who would appreciate this deficiency in respect to women’s participation and engagement in the field of technology. And the beauty of these two areas these days is that they are gender-neutral.
Earlier, the team, led by the Branch Head, Mr Biodun Olutunmise, who thanked the First Lady for the warm reception, said the bank wants to be part of Mrs Akeredolu’s successes and activities, while also asserting its resolve to add value.
“We have been monitoring your activities, both as individuals and as a bank, and we must say they are really great. We therefore want to be part of your successes and activities. We want to identify with you, solicit your support and also add value to what you are doing. Though we are very young as a bank, yet we are ambitious to be the most preferred financial intermediator in Nigeria. And we are working on this goal.” Olutunmise said.
By Debo Akinbami