Cover Stories, Interviews

‘Being in public office is not a jamboree’ – Lagos Deputy Governor

RECENTLY crowned Most Stylish Deputy Governor at the Season 5 of ENCOMIUM’s Black & White Ball 2014, Her Excellency, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire turned 55 a few days back.  And in this no-hold barred interview, she reveals to ENCOMIUM Weekly her duty as a wife, mother, deputy governor and more.  She also talks about her challenges in life and love for African prints…

adejoke adefulireWe want to start by saying happy birthday to you.

Thank you.

How do you feel at 55 and what would you say you are grateful to God for this attainment?

I feel great, happy and grateful to God Almighty. Because I am one of the people God has blessed with amazing grace. I am highly honoured, humbled and I give all glory, adoration and thanksgiving to God Almighty for the opportunity and privilege given to me at 55.

You look younger and prettier than your age, what is the secret?

The secret is God’s abundant grace because when someone enjoys God’s grace everything works for that person perfectly.

Aside God, what else do you do to look this young?

It’s God and nothing else. It was God, it is God and it will always be God.

Are there no exercises and some things you are doing to look this young?

Yes, I do keep fit and do some exercises. But I also have the good fortune of having a good husband who keeps me happy, a good principal that did not give me any stress and the people of Lagos are wonderful. So, when you have all of these, you will always be happy and when you are always happy you will be young and prettier than your age.

Would you say your new age has changed anything in you?

Not really. Aside the fact that I have passed the stage of having children, and awaiting for my children to start having their own children. I am still physically fit and still do a lot of work. I am still very active.

Are you saying you can still do some of those things you used to do some five, 10 years ago?

Not what I can do at age 10, but I can still do a lot of things in a matured way.

adefulire newWhat avoidable mistakes have you made in the past and in what areas?

I can’t think of any one now because, before taking any action, I’m always very careful.  I don’t always want to regret any actions that I have taken that will not make me happy. That is not to say that I have not committed some mistakes in my life but they are very few because I am a very careful person. I think through my decisions before taking actions.

Is there any area of your life that you will like to make some adjustment now?

Yes, to be closer to God. I am happy that I know Christ and my Redeemer liveth. I want to serve God more diligently and be closer to Him. I also want to start mentoring people and preach the gospel. I will like to share my life experience with people, especially the younger generation. I want people to know the way God has helped me and tap into the anointing. I want them to know the way they too can demonstrate their capacity. The grace that I received from God I want to share with people.  I also want to share with people on how to be more dedicated and committed to work.

What are the challenges of life that you have had?

The one I can recall now was when I had one of my children that has serious challenges at birth. It was very devastating. It gave me a lot of stress and concern but today God has been faithful and wonderful. The challenge is now over. God has done what I think cannot be possible. I give Him all the glory.

What lessons would you say life has taught you?

Life has taught me first to be myself, to be focused, to be efficient and effective. Being in public office is not a jamboree and it’s not about show-off.  We are servants of the people and as much the people entrust their lives in our hands, we should be diligent enough not to disappoint them.  We should be diligent enough to serve them to the best of our ability, to demonstrate leadership skill and competence. So, life has taught me to be dedicated to duty, to be compassionate, to respect the people’s feelings and rights and to impact people’s life positively. It’s very important to know that every opportunity comes with responsibility.  So, if you as a public officer doing something that will not in any way impact on the lives of the people positively you better stop.  As challenging as the work of fixing Lagos might be, we are happy working for our people.

You happen to come from a respectable political family in Lagos, how much of this would you say has adefulire latextrubbed off on your own political career?

Certainly, my father prepared the political platform.  No doubt about that.  And I am grateful and mindful of that.  My father is a very good man and my mother a kind-hearted woman.  I am happy and give thanks to God that I am one of their children.  They impacted on me a lot.  I got my political tutelage from my father, I got my kind heartedness from my parents. My father, right from the time I was sworn in as member of Lagos House of Assembly in the Third Republic, will always tell me before going into politics, I must define my aims and objectives in politics.  He told me to set my agenda in politics and remain focused. That under no circumstance should I allow myself to be distracted from my set agenda.   I thank him very much for being my guiding angel in politics. He was always there for and is still praying for me. I also thank God that I have not disappointed him in any way.

I also have another father of repute, people call him my godfather, that I will forever be grateful to. I am talking of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.  It is my prayer that God will continue to bless him and give him good health and long life to continue to provide the leadership he has been giving to this country. His type is not very common. He has that rare talent of detecting potentials and discovering talents in people. I thank him very much for investing in me.  God has used him maximally to assist me and hundreds of my generation.

I also want to thank my boss, principal, brother and leader, the governor of the state, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, who has also contributed in no small measure to my growth as a public servant and a visionary leader. God will continue to bless him too and enrich him with more knowledge and wisdom.

You’ve worked with both Asiwaju Tinubu and Governor Fashola as commissioner before your present position.  Which one would you say has impacted on you most between the two of them?

Both are leaders in their own right. They have done very well for the people of Lagos State.  But Asiwaju (Tinubu) is a leader of leaders.  Many of us are grateful to him today for believing in us and giving us the opportunities that he gave to us. We will forever be grateful to him for that.  As I said before, he is a leader of leaders. He has invested so much in many of us that I pray that he lives long enough to see his investment in all of us come to reality. That a day will come for him when he will sit back and see the good seed he has planted in us come to germinate into good fruits.

Governor Fashola is a leader and impacted so much in us. Aside from making our generation proud, he is a good teacher, team player and a friend.

What is your typical day like?

My typical day is like any normal day. I wake up in the morning, do my prayers, praise worship and some dancing. After that I do my domestic work of making sure that my husband’s breakfast is prepared before he goes to work and resume office for the day’s work.

adefulire CopyDo you still prepare his meal?

Not every time, just once in a while particularly when he insists I do it. But most of the time I just supervise the preparation of his food.

How easy is it for you to combine your responsibilities as a deputy governor with that of a wife and a mother?

That is not difficult at all. It’s what I have been doing for years. And as I often say, as woman if you cannot manage your home, it will be very difficult for you to manage a public office. You must be able to draw a line of distinction between yourself and your husband. Your husband is the head of the family, you are his helpmate and the wife. You are not in any competition with him.  Rather, you must be in cooperation with your husband. The moment you start to compete with your husband, you are heading for trouble. At times, I get home late and apologise.

What do you do?

I will appease him in a way that will make him forgive me.

We hardly see you and your husband together at social events until recently at Hon. Bayo Osinowo daughter’’s wedding and that of late Mrs. Funmi Olayinka daughter’s wedding.

My husband is not a politician. He is a judicial officer.  And by virtue of his work he is not supposed to be attending parties. Two, he does not like going to parties.  He was at Hon Osinowo daughter’’s wedding because Hon. Osinowo insisted that he must attend. Hon. Osinowo is a family friend and a big brother.  Architect Olayinka is a member of the Sunday group.  We have a Sunday group where we fellowship and give thanks to God.

Right from the time you were a commissioner till the present moment, you are always attired in African prints.  What informed this mode of dressing?

Simplicity. Two, that is the way I have always been dressing even before I was appointed a commissioner.  As I said earlier, public office is about service, not a jamboree to show off.  I also know that wearing African fabrics promotes the products of my women who are my main constituents, and I don’t want to create any barrier between me and them.  Some of the local fabrics that I wear are made by the women doing the Short-Term Vocational training programme.  So, in order to encourage them in their trade I patronize them.  All these go a long way to draw them near and also feel the sense of belongings and participation.

Do you have any prominent designer that makes your apparel for you?

Yes, many people love to design for me and most of my designers are student of our Skill and Vocational Training Centres. This is also to encourage them to be dedicated and take their job seriously.  When they see people like me wearing clothes sown by them, they are happy and feel great.

-TOLANI ABATTI

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