..Sen. Bode Olajumoke’s Sponsorship, a rewrite of Nigerians’ belief in parties’ affiliation and community service
These were girls sponsored by Sen. Bode Olajumoke for the just concluded 2022 BeMore Summer Bootcamp 4girlsnaija, an initiative of the Wife of Ondo State Governor, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu.
No gainsaying, Sen Olajumoke is a renowned politician under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party in Nigeria, same way Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, rings bell in the ruling party, right from the days of ACN.
Nigerian politicians are not known for extending generosity outside their political party’s umbrella, it’s rare to see a politician supporting the good cause/projects of the opposition, even if it’s crystal clear that it’s for the betterment of the general masses.
The 78 year old former Senator in Ondo State has made and is making a history as he did what left many Nigerians speechless, by keying into the vision of Bemore Empowered Girls foundation of the wife of Ondo State Governor.
Just with a brief introduction of what Bemore Initiative stands for, baba was wowed to hear about it, a process we thought might be difficult to scale through due to the usual political sentiment(I’m not your party member)being operated in Nigeria. But alas! Daddy asked few questions (in 2021) and less than 24hrs, he concluded on sponsoring 16 girls from four communities in Ose Local Government Area of the state.
It was like a nightmare. To further prove that he’s against political bigotry, baba gave a stern warning for the selection process; strictly for the indigent girls without giving attention or consideration to their political or religion’s antecedents. Baba ruled out political party’s influence, even his own party; no religion or communities’ heads influence but direct to the secondary schools to screen girls.
To crown it all, daddy said the 16 beneficiaries should be divided among the four
communities, equally, without preference for his own community, and must be across quarters. Daddy was convinced to let his community have higher number from the 16. Rather than accepting the suggestion, he magnanimously offered to sponsor extra one to make a total of 17 girls for the 2021 edition.
It’s on record that, prior to the 2021 edition, Ose girls had suffered from lack of sponsorship and consequently, exclusion from the programme being a non-governmental but individual’s and organisation’s sponsored project.
With the enormous benefits attached to the Bemore Summer Bootcamp, no State government would have been able to cater for it , annually, and in this large number.
As preparation for the 2022 edition commenced, the BEMORE Empowered Foundation’s team buckled up in search of sponsorship.
Me was like, this baba won’t answer us again jare, he’s not APC Chieftain, bla bla..na like that I held ‘daddy Bassey’s‘ letter for sponsorship (Our dogged BeMore Technical
Coordinator, who had already fallen in love with Sen’s approach), we kept meditating on what magic to use to approach Senator again for sponsorship. This was when I learned that what you’re thinking or assuming as a likelihood feedback or reaction from someone to your action, most times, differ from his/her mind set. We reason differently to life’s issues, and daddy having traversed the world and seen how governance was being run in other advanced countries, indeed, had a different mind set from a typical Nigerian
The anxiety increased as preparation was on top gear, sponsors were trooping in for girls from other LGAs, my wonderful Ose was yet to see one. These girls were already aware that Bootcamp was an annual event during the visit of BeMore team to their schools to pick beneficiaries last year, and were all eager to come and experience it.
The problem that seemed unsolvable and like a mountain was surmounted with a demonstration of generosity by the Founder of BeMore Initiative, during her visit to one of the communities in Ose.
Fortunately, a few number of last year’s beneficiaries in those communities were aware that their Grandma would be visiting. To my amazement, all the 5 girls from Senator’s community appeared at the occasion and their Grandma was so excited. At the end of the programme she gave them a parting gift of N5,000 each, and took picture with them.
This gesture got to our caring grandpa and opened door of opportunity for another set of 18 girls who participated in the just concluded Bootcamp.
To the amazement of many, using last year’s guidelines to select new beneficiaries,
Senator Olajumoke gathered both old and the new beneficiaries for a meeting in his home town, with their parents in attendance. What baba did was asking the old beneficiaries to narrate their experiences at the camp to prepare the new ones for the task ahead of them. Baba was dumbfounded as the girls downloaded all they acquired bit by bit. He
was further convinced about the initiative that it was never a wasted investment.
He said:”I have teary eyes listening to these girls”. He opined that Bemore’s concept through the innovative summer bootcamp would bridge the gap in advancing female education created due to age long denial of access to formal education of girls which his elder sister suffered during her time.
Most of the old girls asked him for an opportunity to attend the Bootcamp one more time.
He disappointed critics who challenged his support for the project, by attending the 2022 opening ceremony where he publicly corrected them that he had no intention of defecting to the ruling party, but BeMore project was a positive thing which was for the benefit of the society, regardless of political parties affiliation.
He said: “I encourage positive initiatives, I have no doubt about what Arabirin has started, it’s a good one. I saw the demonstration and testimonies of these girls in Imeri, and I had teary eyes when I heard the skills they acquired and the experiences they garnered at the bootcamp.
“Like I said, people are asking why am I doing this? But I’m a solid man, I didn’t join politics because of anybody, I joined out of my conviction to improve my environment”. There are so many individuals who are financially capable to sponsor this project in their localities but due to political bigotry deny innocent girls this opportunity which is a way of giving back to the society.
My wonderful 2022 set were crying while leaving the camp. They were transformed, well equipped and grounded. More knowledgeable than they came. More exposed to the modern world. Now cherish education than anything; one even begged to stay back with me in Akure, I quite understood her, no one would taste good life and wished not to continue with it, but I passionately appealed to her to please ensure that she completed secondary education, and passed SSCE; I introduced myself vividly to all of them, my background, educated and current status. They were encouraged and took my number, my phone didn’t rest since Sunday night till now..hello ma! This is Yemisi. .hello ma! This is Deborah Bemore girl and so on and so forth.
I told them they were lucky, when I was in their age, I had no such opportunity. If there was any, it went to those whose parents were politically connected.
But, Senator Olajumoke has ever been a rare gem in the history of Ondo and Ose politics who touched almost every family by either paying for school fees, or every other issue. I told him I would emulate him for that.
Till next year before another Bemore Summer Bootcamp, but its impacts resonate daily, with over 30 homes lighted with Solar home system in Irekari axis of Ose Local Government, through the magnanimity of Sen. Olajumoke, history will never forget him and the Founder, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who vowed to light 1,000 homes through the BeMore Girls.
This is first of its kind project that directly impacted the vulnerable families in rural areas. I had access to computer system after my secondary school when I visited my big sister in the city.
Now, BeMore is changing the narrative in my locality with the distribution of laptops to girls who participated in the Bootcamp. A visit to one of the secondary schools to select beneficiaries for this year’s edition, the Vice-principal passionately pleaded with Bemore team to select from SS1 downward.
Reason was that the school has been using 5 laptops collected by last year’s beneficiaries to train other students in computer system and now they’ve completed their SSCE and left with their laptops.
Finally, I’m happy to announce that two of our girls who are skilled in footballing were discovered at the Bootcamp and got cash gift each from Her Excellency; They’re available for further coaching @Sunshine Queens @Manchester United Team, here are future
football female champions from Ose. Many talented girls were wasted in our communities due to lack of platform like BeMore Empowered Foundation to showcase their talents.
Asides the main objectives of the initiative, promoting girls’ interest in Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ± Entrepreneurship (STEM+E) to bridge the gender gap in these fields, BeMore also serves as a platform to discover talents in public speaking, dance, music, Artworks and sports.
Long Live Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu
Long Live Sen. Bode Olajumoke
Long Live Bemore Empowered Girls Foundation
Long Live Ose
Mary Agidi writes from Alagbaka Akure