Pharm (Mrs.) Uzamat Akinbule Yusuf is the incumbent Commissioner for Youths and Social Development in Lagos State. The youthful looking commissioner turned 43 on Thursday, May 25. 2017.
The graduate of Biochemistry and Pharmacy from University of Ibadan and University of Lagos respectively told Encomium Weekly in an exclusive interview that she still longs to have a baby girl to complement her four boys. She also told us other areas of her short but interesting life.
How do you feel turning 43?
Every day of your life, you should appreciate God. Turning 43, I look back and I say Allihamidu lillahi, and I will continue to say it throughout my life. God has bestowed on me all good things that any human being desires in life. Is it good health or good family or my present position as commissioner in Lagos State. I give him more glory and adoration. I pray to Him to give me more years to celebrate many good things in life.
Do you feel your new age?
Not at all. I still feel the same way that I used to feel before. I still feel healthy and still put on my high heel shoes.
What will you say you are grateful to God for turning 43?
Gift of life. Many were born the same day and year that I was born but have gone to the great beyond.
What will you say is the happiest moment of your 43 years of existence?
It was in 2006 when I graduated as a pharmacist. I cannot forget the joy that swept over me that day that I swore to the oath of pharmacy.
Was it a dream that became a reality?
Yes. It took me a long time to realize that dream. Right from when I was in Class 3, I had been dreaming to be a pharmacist. But unfortunately when I gained admission into University of Ibadan, I was given Biochemistry to study instead of Pharmacy that I applied for. I was not really happy about that but I accepted it and kept my dream of being a pharmacist active. Throughout my years at University of Ibadan, I was doing everything humanly possible to change from Biochemistry to Pharmacy but it just didn’t work.
So, I graduated as biochemist from University of Ibadan and I got married immediately, but I still kept my hope of becoming a pharmacist alive. I told my husband this and he supported me. Because I already had a degree in Biochemistry it was not difficult for me to gain admission into University of Lagos to pursue my childhood dream of being a pharmacist. Though it was not easy combining marriage and bearing children with my studies, but I was ready to go through it all. Because of this, I had an extra year but all of these paled into insignificance when I was pronounced a pharmacist in 2006. It was actually a dream come true. I can never forget that day.
When would you consider your saddest moment so far in life?
That was day I lost my mother.
Are you her only child?
No, but I am her first daughter. Two, I lost my father when I was still in secondary school. So, she was the one that had been playing the role of a father and mother to me for so many years. She was living with me when she died.
When was this?
She died in 2009.
Were you the closest person to her then?
Not really. The process of her death was what shook me to my marrow. She had terminal illness and as a paramedical person I knew she would soon die. So, I wasn’t really happy about it. You know living with somebody and knowing that that person, not just a person, but your mother, will soon die.
Each time I go into her room and I see her sleeping, I feel sad because I know she was dying slowly and there was nothing I could do to save her life.
What lesson would you say life has taught you?
Always do good and don’t expect to be paid back by the person you did good to. Believe it is only God that can reward you. Life has taught me to be kind to people.
Before you were appointed a commissioner in Lagos State, you were the MD/CEO of at least three thriving businesses. Despite this, you still joined partisan politics. What would you say drew you to politics despite your success in the business world?
I love giving back to the society. I love service. Politics is basically about service. Service to the people and the society as a whole. Giving back to the society is what drew me to politics.
So, when did partisan politics start for you?
Politics started for me when I was still a student of University of Ibadan. I took part in all student activism within the school campus. But when I got admitted into University of Lagos, I didn’t participate in student activism because I was already married. But in the community where I lived with my family then, I was very active in community work.
When I see that there is need for a particular thing in the community, I took it upon myself to provide it.
This is what I was doing when a politician approached me one day to ask me why I did not join politics. He said I was just giving everything to CDA (Community Development Association). I told him I didn’t like politics because of the negative stories that one hears about women in politics.
Later when I told my elder brother about this, he said I could join politics and make a difference from these other women with negative stories. To the glory of God, my husband gave me his support too and here I am today. I was never in politics to get anything. To the glory of God, I was comfortable when I joined politics. I joined politics in order to continue my provision of service to my immediate community as I have been doing before joining politics.
In fact, after the 2015 general elections, I was not expecting anything from anybody. This appointment came as a surprise to me. I was already preparing to go back for my Masters degree in Public Health. I had already collected the form for the course. It was my appointment as a commissioner that stopped me. God willing, I will still go back to obtain my Masters in Public Health. I give God the glory that I was counted among the millions of Lagosians that are equally qualify to serve as commissioner in the state.
You already have four children and you are still looking pretty young. What is the secret of your good look?
To the glory of God I have four boys.
How old is your oldest son?
My oldest child is 19. He will be 20 very soon.
How old is your youngest child?
He is 12 now. I don’t have much problem performing my responsibilities because all of them are grown ups and they are in tune with my schedule of duty.
Is there anything you are doing to look this good after having four children?
The only thing is that I am conscious of what I put in my mouth. I don’t eat everything I see.
Do you do any form of exercise?
Yes, I have my routine exercise. I do a moderate exercise every now and then.
All your children are boys. Do you miss not having a girl?
Of course, I do. If I have the opportunity I will still have it. It is never too late (general laughter). If not biological child, I can still adopt one. I am still very hopeful of having close bond with a baby girl.
We gathered that your compound surnames Akinbile-Yusuf are the names of your two husbands.
I lost my first marriage in 2008 and remarried to Adegboyega Olubodun Yusuf. Because of my four children, I retained their father’s name, Akinbile.
What is it like working with Governor Akinwumi Ambode?
That is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. That opportunity has changed a lot about me.
I have never been opportuned to work under many people in my life. In fact, he will be the second person I will ever work under in my life.
Who and where was the first one?
That was when I was the Supervisory Councillor at Agbado Oke-do (LCDA). I worked under the chairman then, Dr. Augustus Arogundade. Under Governor Akinwumi Ambode I now know the true meaning of a leader. I now know and appreciate what leadership is all about. He has taught me a lot in the little time that I have worked under him. He taught me perseverance and having the patience to hear everybody out.
I am very grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to work with him.
But there is this impression that he is very tough and drives his commissioner too hard.
Yes, that is what I appreciate most in him. He changes you from your old ways to a new one. He is an achiever, a goal getter. So, if you have to work with him, you must be prepared to work hard in order to achieve your goals too. He will drive you to go beyond your limits. He will drive you to success.
Like I said before, I am very grateful that I am part of his team. He sees beyond many people. He is a kind of person that sees far ahead of others. I cherish him a lot.