Fred Ezeh, Abuja World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative and Head of Mission in Nigeria, Dr Wondi Alemu, has allayed fears of a possible Ebola outbreak in Nigeria. Ebola resurfaced recently in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and its continued spread has attracted the attention of WHO. Alemu told journalists over the weekend that the Federal…
‘I don’t go the extra mile to be fashionable’
‘Why I won’t throw owambe party on my birthday’
BY CHRISTY ANYANWU
With two Master degrees in Business Administration and in Personnel Psychology, she left her mouth-watering career as a banker and personnel manager in Dunlop Nigeria Meyer Plc to attend to the home front shortly after she had her first baby 20 years ago. Mrs Olufunmilayo Banire, wife of Muiz Banire, a three-time commissioner in Lagos State and All Progressives Congress (APC) National Legal Adviser, later launched herself into importation of goods, property and haulage business. As Mrs Banire clocked 50 yesterday, she told Effects that she’s so much contented, happy and grateful to almighty God. As she expressed gratitude to God for clocking the golden age, Mrs Banire has been channeling her resources into assisting humanity as she visited orphanages in Lagos.
How do you feel being 50?
I’m quite happy I feel elated; it’s a unique opportunity to turn 50. I’m happy and I really thank God. It’s a rare privilege to turn 50. It’s a milestone celebration for me. I’m not into any unnecessary celebration or spending, I’m rather committing the little financial resources I have into blessing orphanage homes, blessing humanity. That is the only way I can really thank God. I’m going to have a prayer session to thank God for keeping me this far. I’m also seizing the opportunity to tilt to the same God to keep me going; see me through life, be sure that He protects me, that I will be able to see another half of the century. It’s a blessing to me, a rare privilege and I’m very grateful to God almighty.
No Owambe party?
We are having a prayer session; people are coming over to the house. its not really an owambe party. We will have a small dinner. The dinner is going to be for a few that will contribute to the NGO. I told our friends that I don’t really want presents. I told them that any present they would like to give should be channeled to my NGO. Its like a fund- raising dinner and its taking place on Saturday. My birthday is on Friday and I’m having a prayer session on Friday in the morning. Then, people would come and celebrate with me, eat and go but we have a special dinner session on Saturday for our friends at Renaissance Hotel.That is where the fund-raising dinner will take place. Definitely, we will dance, it will not be an owambe but we will dance to the glory of God. I’m a lover of music.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Honestly, I like spiritual music. I’m a Muslim but I love Tope Alabi’s music. She’s my favourite artiste.
Can you tell us about your NGO?
Rhesus Solution Initiative is a registered non-profit, non-political, and non-governmental organization (N.G.O.) founded on 12th May, 2007 to create and promote awareness on Rhesus factor, Rhesus incompatibility and its associated complications for the general public, particularly women, teenagers and pre-teens.We also emphasize the need to discourage wrong genotype pairing in marriage in order to prevent having children with sickle cell anemia as well as encouraging people on the importance, value and advantages of voluntary blood donation as a selfless support to humanity.
Rhesus Incompatibility, which may lead to Haemolytic Disease of the Foetus/Newborn, is one of the silent but preventable contributors to the high rate of infant mortality and maternal morbidity in Nigeria. Hence, the essence of our organization’s mission is to prevent its incidence. The humanitarian activities of the organization are focused on six key areas: Awareness, Counseling, Intervention, Training, Advocacy and Research (ACITAR). Although RSI is 10 years in existence, it has only been in full operations for less than 8 years.
It’s quite a unique kind of NGO, how do you reach your target audience?
We have organized and participated in more than a hundred awareness campaigns in conjunction with religious groups, government agencies, corporate organizations, community associations, other N.G.Os and the general public. We also organize school awareness outreach for students of secondary schools across Lagos. We have done for schools in district I, II and III, with district IV coming up soon. In that respect, we have reached over 6000 students and 600 teachers. We also have periodic enlightenment talks on radio and TV. We have also offered free counseling in our office to over 3000 rhesus negative women referred from different health facilities. The idea is to give them adequate information including prevention and treatment of rhesus incompatibility.
Being 50, what has life taught you?
I have experienced a lot in life. I have learnt to be very grateful to God Almighty, I have learnt to be very patient, I have learnt to be very resilient and very passionate with whatever I believe in. In totality, I have learnt to put all my hope and trust in God. I have seen disappointments, I have seen so many things in life and I have come to the conclusion that in life, it’s only God that you can actually put your trust in. That’s why I’m doing everything to glorify God whichever way I can and ensure that the little I have, I commit it to assisting humanity in whichever way I could.
Did growing up have anything to do with your benevolent attitude. What was growing up like for you?
I was born in Isale Eko. Everyone knew what life was like in Isale Eko. Isale Eko way back then was where you had many of these ruffians but luckily for me, my parents moved me away which I’m very grateful about. I was moved from Isale Eko at age 10. Looking back now; some of the people we started life with at that time, are no more. I have every cause to glorify God that they were able to move me away from Isale Eko. I’m also from a polygamous home.You know what polygamy is, it’s something I detest. Given that background, my mum committed herself to God. That really assisted me in a way. I know that without God, I wouldn’t have been alive today. To a very large extent, growing up actually added value to my being now because I see it as a great privilege that has taken me this far.
Back to your NGO, aside awareness campaigns, what else do you offer to reach out to your target audience?
Our primary intervention is to provide the treatment injection, which prevents complications from rhesus incompatibility, to the less-priviledged and financially challenged Rhesus negative women in order to help them achieve satisfying and healthy deliveries of live babies. On this we have donated almost 1500 Anti D Immunoglobulin injection (known as Rhogam) across General and private hospitals, clinics, maternities, traditional and religious birth homes within and outside Lagos State. The injection is expensive and the cost has been increasing from N13, 000 in 2009, N19, 000 in 2013 to the current price of N25, 000 in 2017. Also as an intervention, we have carried out free blood group tests on over 7000 pre-teens, teenagers, pregnant women and girls of child-bearing age in order to identify the rhesus negative persons for adequate counseling.
Who influenced you more while growing up, your mum or dad?
Definitely, it was my mum. I have always been closer to my mum. I wasn’t very close to my dad. His extended family was his major concern. He regretted it later in life though; unfortunately, he couldn’t turn back the hands of the clock. He’s of blessed memory. Thank God that my mum removed us from the polygamous set up. I grew up with my mum and my immediate siblings. I really appreciate that. My mum had always been a devoted Christian. My dad was a Muslim and I ended up marrying a Muslim and I’m also a Muslim. Voluntarily, I chose to be a Muslim.
With your experience in a polygamous setting, what’s your take on polygamy?
For some people that know how to practise it, they could be successful with it but for me, it wasn’t an interesting episode. It’s something that I really don’t pray for and it’s something I don’t wish my enemy
Having said that, who is your husband?
He is Dr. Muiz Adeyemi Banire. He was a three time commissioner before he left public office for his own private legal firm. He has always been a lawyer and has always practised law.
How did you meet this wonderful man?
That was a very long time. I met him through my half brother. He happened to be a friend to my half brother. He used to come to our family house in Ikorodu during Ileya festival. At some point, we became friends.
We were friends for about four years before we started dating at all. I think it was after six years that he proposed. We knew that we would take the relationship to the next level. We got married in 1993, we did the legal wedding and after that we had the formal social wedding in 1994, May 14 to be precise. We have weathered so many storms and here we are, still counting.
What is style for you?
Comfortable; I wear things I’m comfortable in. I love fashion but to moderation. I love everything good; I’m attracted to everything good and affordable by me. I will not go extra mile to be fashionable and I love my comfort. I don’t so much follow trends, I follow what appeals to me, and I’m being governed by that.
Are you into designer wears?
I love designers, if I see a designers cloth that I like, I will go for it. If I see something reasonable, moderate that appeals to me, I get it. I have good eyes for quality things.