MRS. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, is the first daughter of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the first grand-daughter of late Alhaja Abibat Mogaji. If the feelers we are getting is anything to go by, Mrs. Tinubu-Ojo may step into her late grandmother’s shoes as the next President-General, Market Women and Men Association of Nigeria.
Speculations were rife even before Alhaja Abibat Mogaji died that Mrs. Tinubu-Ojo will be the next Iya Oloja General of Nigeria. Events during the burial rites of the woman indicated that some people are already pushing Mrs. Tinubu-Ojo to take over from her grandmother. In fact, one of the Muslim clerics that conducted the seventh day Fidau at Mama’s Sunday Adigun, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos residence on Saturday, June 22, 2013, specifically asked for prayer for Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, in her new position as the President-General of Market Men and Women Association of Nigeria.
ENCOMIUM Weekly took her up on this and other issues…
Do we start to congratulate you as the new President-General of Market Women and Men Association of Nigeria, going by the Alfa’s pronouncement?
Not yet, it has not been confirmed. I can’t say precisely that I am the new President-General. Now, it is the people’s wish that I become the President-General and if God wants it so, so be it. But I have not been confirmed yet. Right now, I am the Deputy Chairman of Lagos State Market Development Board and the acting chairman after my grandmother passed on.
But don’t you think Mama’s shoes will be too big for you to step into?
If God wants it like that, I can’t reject it. I never imagined myself that I will ever be involved in market issues. It was Mama who just called me and said go and represent me at the Market Development Board. I never thought with my M.BA, I will end up working with market women and men. If I had known, I would probably have been involved in buying and selling after my secondary education. But like they say, man proposes, God disposes. If that is what God wants for me, who am I to reject it. I know it is the Will of God that will prevail anytime.
What would you say you learnt from Mama that has prepared you for such position, if given?
A lot. That is why children should always pay attention to whatever their parents are doing because they never know when they would be called upon to step into their shoes.
Where were you when Mama died?
I was here with her. When I got here in the morning, I just realized that Mama looked different to me. When I greeted her, ‘Mama, e karo ma’ (Good morning mama), she was just gazing at me. When she knew I said, ‘Shade lo n ki yin’ (Shade is the person greeting you), she now put her hand on my head rubbing it several times. Later, she rested her hand on my cheeks for very long time until I stylishly pulled her hand away. But she held on to my hand and I prayed that she would live long and that she would see my own children. She just whispered Amen. Later on, I stood up and looked at her again. There was something different about Mama. She was looking so different. I was certainly not feeling comfortable with her look that particular Saturday (June 15, 2013). I had two weddings to attend that day, but because of her look, I cancelled them. My birthday was the next day (Sunday, June 10). So, I decided to stay with her, and the nurse and others around. At about 5.15 p.m, I decided to go out. It wasn’t up to ten minutes that I left the house that I received a call from Iya Ife, the nurse, Iya Ibeji, all those that were staying with her in her room. I was wondering why they were all calling me at the same time. Dr. Femi Osanyintolu of LASEMA called me as well. He said, where are you? Tete lo ba Iya e (Go and meet your mother). I told him, I just left the house few minutes ago. He replied, just go and meet her. He didn’t tell me he was already with Mama. When I stepped in, I met Dr. Aleshi, Dr. Femi Osanyintolu and Dr. Femi Olugbile. When I looked at Maam I knew she was gone and I started crying.
What came to your mind when you realized Mama was gone?
I just said, ‘Mi o ni iya mo’ (I don’t have a mother anymore). We thank God for her life. We thank God she wasn’t miserable before she died. She left her own footprint all over Nigeria. We bless the name of God for what people are saying about her. I am proud of her.
But you still went ahead with your birthday celebration the following day?
Not really, we first went for the burial. After the burial, the normal thing for us is to entertain guests. A friend had made the cake for me and she asked whether she should still bring the cake and I said yes. It would have been a waste if I had told her not to bring the cake. Usually, it is my friends that always mark my birthday for me. They will all gather and mark it. That day I had about ten of them around as usual that came to celebrate the day with me. I jokingly told them that Mama had given me a birthday gift by dying a day before my birthday.
Do you think there is any significance to the fact that Mama died a day before your birthday?
I believe Mama doesn’t want me to forget the day she died. She died a day before my birthday and a day when her grandson, Adedamola Kasumu was supposed to christen his new born baby. I believe there is something about Mama dying that day. She probably didn’t want us to cry or mourn her departure. That was why she chose to die a day before my birthday and christening of her great granddaughter.
What was the best advice Mama gave you?
Mama thought me humility. Because she usually told me anytime I am leaving her to go out, ‘O ni jo ra loju’ (You should never believe there is no one like you). This is usually her advice to anybody in position of power or influence that pays her a courtesy visit. She also thought me to be self-reliant.
What will you say is the special thing you learnt from her?
Her generosity. Mama can borrow money to give out to someone who is in need. Mama preferred cash gift than clothing materials because she would give out the cash to those who sought her financial assistance. If you caution Mama not to give out everything she would scold you and tell you she is the owner of her money and that she can spend it anyway she likes. I pray to God to give me such grace.
What was the best gift Mama ever gave you?
My position at the Lagos State Market Development Board, because I never expected it. I didn’t tell her I wanted it and I did not ask for it. She just called me and told me to go and represent her at the Lagos State Market Development Board.
Are you her closest grandchild?
We all were special to Mama, but a lot of people think I am the closest.
Aside you and Adedamola, are there other grandchildren?
Of course, you know how many children my dad has.
But it is only you and Adedamola that we see around, we don’t see the others.
Others are not here. But three of us attended the burial. There is Seyi Tinubu, me and Adedamola.
THIS INTERVIEW WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2013