I am very happy because it has been a long journey since I was invited by the late Chief Wuraola Esan. Chief Esan was an Iyalode of ibadanland and Nigeria’s first female senator. She told us when we were first made chiefs that we should not relent in making meaningful contributions for the progress of Ibadan. She said when I look back, I must see you behind me. And, we did it together. I am happy and I am very proud of the late Iyalode. She invited us to support her in the task. She didn’t say that we should not do our work but she wanted our contributions.
The position comes with huge responsibilities; what will you do differently as the Iyalode?
I want all the women to come together and take part in the tasks that we have to do. We want them to be ready to help wherever and whenever they are needed. We want the women, both young and old, to support the economic, cultural, traditional and particularly educational advancement of Ibadanland and even Oyo State and Nigeria at large. We want them to help us encourage our girls to go to school or learn a trade.
As a retired matron at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, how do you want to bring your experience to use?
A Universal Basic Education (UBEC) report says that 60 percent of the total out-of-school children in Nigeria are girls, what must be done to bring them back to school?
We should connect with them and find out what they want for themselves. We need to know from home to home what is their opinion about roaming the streets. We should find a way to get them engaged appropriately. It is either you go to school or learn a trade. It is good to learn a vocation. I was once a teacher; I am not happy about the way things are going in the society today. I am not happy that our girls are walking around doing nothing. By so doing, they will become a problem to the government and the society at large. They should look for something to do. Government must adjust the budget and put more money into education. They must block wastage. Government must increase awareness through campaigns. They must also provide facilities to improve the level of education. The higher the level of education, the lower the rate of theft, cultism, kidnapping and insecurity. On the inauguration day, when Governor Seyi Makinde announced the stoppage of payment of fees in primary and secondary schools in the state, I was very happy. With that, parents will be able to send their children to school.
Assuming you are in a one-on-one meeting with Governor Seyi Makinde and you are asked to make a demand, what would your request be?
I would tell the governor that I am not happy at all that our girls are roaming the streets. I will tell him to ensure that they are better engaged by returning them to school or through vocational training. If they are engaged, they will not take to vices. We should help them to grow properly. Some of them hide; they will not like you to see them doing wrong things. It is better for us to ask them what they want to do for themselves. This is the time the government should increase the percentage of women in the cabinet so as to allow them to make more impact at the grassroots level. The women don’t have to be partisan politicians; they must look for educated women to go to the grassroots and improve government activities. When Governor Makinde, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, appointed a female Secretary to the State Government in addition to the female Head of Service, I was joyous.
Today, we hear of fathers having carnal knowledge of their own daughters and mothers who ask their daughters to go into prostitution, why?
We are not happy about it; it is not good. Government and all stakeholders should ensure that female children are productively engaged. We are not talking of paper qualification alone; they can learn a trade. Some of them go and steal. Is stealing a profession? Maybe a father who is raping his daughter is mentally sick. It is a sin.
Can you draw the line between fashion in the past and now?
As a child, I was brought up properly by my parents. We started by going to the convent school and you must be properly dressed. The etiquette was there. As a young lady, you cannot dress anyhow or sit or greet anyhow. The home, the school and the environment determined our dressing sense and we had good role models. Today, there is a lot of deterioration in discipline. When we were in primary and secondary schools, we had instructions on how to do our hair and the type of shoes you would wear. Until you get to class four in secondary school you cannot wear wristwatch then. Today, you see boys and girls hug themselves in front of school. Parents forge birth certificates for their children to be admitted into schools.
What must be done to up the stake again?
In those days, people like Professor Bolanle Awe, a world class historian; Chief Folake Solanke, first lady Senior Advocate of Nigeria and late Mrs Wuraola Esan, first female senator were appointed based on merit. They did not belong to any political party and they performed well. Our governments should go outside the party to ensure that qualified people are appointed into offices.
We cannot do it alone. We need to get women who will sensitise the traders on acceptable level of hygiene. From time immemorial, one of the qualities of Iyalodes are stern discipline and economic buoyancy. If you get to their compounds it would be tidy but the colonial masters came and set up markets. They put sanitary officers from local government areas there to enforce hygiene thereby taking the role from the Iyalodes. Now, we want the council authorities to be more alive to their responsibilities. For instance, meat sellers should have show glass and drainages should be well maintained in the markets.
Share one of your happy moments with us?
The time when I got married was a memorable time. It was then I had a child in London. My husband used to help me to care for the baby. He bathed my daughter and fed my children for me. That made me very happy.