‘No one influenced Oba of Lagos’
CHIEF (Mrs.) Folashade Tinubu-Ojo is the first daughter of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. She was on Tuesday, October 29, 2013, decorated by Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos as the new Iyaloja-General of Nigeria. The new Iyaloja-General who is married to Hon. Oyetunde Ojo, a member of House of Representatives told ENCOMIUM Weekly that she never dreamt of being the new Iyaloja-General, until Kabiyesi Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the Eleko of Eko, told her she was going to be the next Iyaloja-General…
Iyaloja-General of Nigeria. I was not part of the programme. It was my husband that did it.
That means your responsibility covers all markets in Nigeria?
Yes, of course. That was why some market women and men came from other states to attend the coronation that day.
What will you say prepared you for such huge responsibility of over-seeing all the markets in Nigeria?
It is God and the tutelage that I had under Mama, my late grandmother, Abibat Ashabi Mogaji.
For how many years was this tutelage?
I spent a lot of time with Mama more than my real parents. Whenever I was on holidays, I was always with her. Even after my MBA programme, I was still with her.
Where did you do your MBA?
At America Intercontinental University, an American university. I did my first degree programme at Middlesex University in London.
Didn’t you attend any school in Nigeria?
I did. I was at Federal College of Education, Oyo (Special), where I studied Home Economics (Double Major).
I did part of my secondary school education here in Nigeria before moving to London to complete it. I was at College of North East in London, where I studied English Studies for business people and my ICT.
With this level of education, how easy has it been coping with the market women and men majority of whom are not lettered?
Some things are natural to some people. I happen to be someone who finds it easy to blend with people, irrespective of their educational or social background. Moreso, they were always around Mama (late Abibat Mogaji) and I was also around Mama and I saw the way and manner Mama related with them. It is therefore not in any way challenging to me.
Mama always said something. She said, ‘Anybody that can manage market people can manage mad people.’ That has been my guiding principle too. As a leader, you must be very patient to listen to them and allow them to open their minds or say whatever they want to say before you say yours.
Since June that you took over from your late grandmother, how will you describe the experience?
It’s been hectic, I can’t lie. When Mama was alive, I would come around and after sometime escape to have my peace of mind. But since her death, that has not been possible. There has been no day that I have for myself. I am a television person, who likes to cuddle up on the settee and watch all the soap operas. But since I took over I could only manage to listen to news on television.
What does being Iyaloja-General entails? What exactly do you do as Iyaloja-General?
Basically, to relate with all market leaders, to make sure things are done in line with the policy of the government of the day. When I say government, I mean all three tiers of government – Federal, State and the local government. We must also make sure we work in harmony with the community in which we are operating. It is also my responsibility to let the government know the feelings and yearnings of the market women and men. The relationship between the governments and the market women, like they say in local parlance, is rub my back, I rub your back. Commerce is the backbone of any economy, and without the market women and men, commerce cannot thrive vis-à-vis the economy too.
I must provide the avenue for them to get what they want from the government to help them in their commerce and at the same time make them realize their responsibilities to the government too.
I have to be a role model to them and be there for them. I must give them motherly support all the time.
The one that has just left now is on first name basis with my late grandmother but did you see the way she related with me? God has put me in a position to play the role of a mother to them.
A lot of people also believe that to be an Iyaloja-General, you must belong to a powerful secret cult?
But I know I don’t belong to any secret cult except that of the Most High God. God has been my pillar of support. God has been very faithful to me. I don’t belong to any secret cult or society. Nothing of such. I give God all the glory.
Did it ever at anytime cross your mind that you were going to take over from your grandmother?
I never dreamt of it. If anyone had told me in May, a month before Mama died, I would have dismissed it as a joke. Even when someone suggested that I should put on Mama’s official pendant the day she was to be buried, I warned the person sternly.
Who was this person?
When the person told me, I didn’t first believe it.
Who was this?
That’s Kabiyesi. He said that was what Mama said. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. He said it to me and was looking at Mama’s picture.
As Iyaloja-General, do you have your own cabinet?
No, we just have committees.
Who is your deputy now?
I don’t have any deputy. Mama did not have any deputy until few years before she passed on. She chose me as her deputy about four years ago.
Your stepmother, Senator Oluremi Tinubu said a hundred and one good things about you on the day of your installation. Did you ever live with her?
Of course, and she is my mom, she knows me.
For how long did you and her live together?
Most times, when I was on holidays and I am around. If I was not with her I am with Mama. But most times I was with Mama. Omo Agba ni mi.
Who is your own biological mother?
She is dead.
When was this?
Long, long time ago.
Your dad was not there on the day of your coronation, what happened?
He has his own political interest that he was pursuing. That is his life and this is my own life.
Has he ever called you since you were appointed the new Iyaloja-General to advice you?
My dad is always there when it comes to that. But we have our private moments together sometimes.
Yes, he has called me to say congratulations and I said thank you dad.
But you have not seen or met one on one?
No, since I have been crowned.
Your husband is a member of House of Representatives and you are here in Lagos as Iyaloja-General. Do you two get to see each other at all?
We always create time to be with each other. It has been like that even before I became Iyaloja-General. I am always in Lagos and he is always in Abuja or Ekiti (where he is representing).
So, how often do you get to be with each other as husband and wife?
Weekends. Sometimes, I travel to Abuja and on holidays he is in Lagos.
This house (on Sunday Adigun Street, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos) seem to be the permanent office of Iyaloja-General?
Is this where you also reside like the late Iyaloja-General?