By Vivian Onyebukwa
Hon. (Mrs.) Omotayo Oduntan is the Deputy Chief Whip of the Lagos State House of Assembly. She nursed the idea of going into politics while she was growing up, and ensured that she accomplished the idea. She is a receiver of peace award from Apostles of Peace Society, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Ishaga-Tedo, Isolo, Lagos. She spoke on a wide range of issues in this interview. Excerpts:
What does this award mean to you?
Every award has its significance. I do not receive award anyhow, but any award that comes towards the upliftment of one’s work is highly appreciated. This award is a very significant one and I really appreciate it.
How do you intend to uplift the society with this award?
I have always loved to help the society, so it is not a new thing to me. Each of us has a role to play, and my own role is to help, with my position, bring my friends closer and identify with this project because it is a philanthropic project. When I look at the story of my life and what I have been through, I would wish to write a memoir for people to know that the Lord has been good me.
What inspired you to go into politics?
While growing up, I lived in Kano, very close to the late Aminu Kano’s residence. I got inspired by the way the late politician attended to people who flocked his residence on a daily basis. There and then, I decided that I would influence my generation positively by participating in politics and making good policies, which in turn, would affect lives positively.
What would you say to women who want to go into politics but seem to shy away?
Those of us who are in government are like mirror to all other women. They should look at us, come forward and we will lecture them. In any profession, people do not just get to the top in one day, even though it is in a small trade. You have to start from somewhere.
For women who aspire to go into politics, they need to ask themselves, can I do it? Do I want to do it? Am I capable? If they can be honest with themselves and answer these questions truthfully, then they should come not looking at all the things attached to it, face it head-on, never shy away until they get to the top.
In going into politics, they should be sure of themselves and what they actually want. Politics is a good thing because you meet a lot of people. I hardly get annoyed now because politics has taught me to be patient and how to attend to different types of people from time to time.
What lessons have you learnt in politics?
Politics has helped me to become a better woman. Once you are sure and really convinced that you want to serve the people, the right place to be is in politics. Perseverance and patience are core virtues that will help you achieve your goals.
How much support do you get from your husband?
My home is fine and very okay. Though my husband is not a politician, he supports and encourages me. My children are grown up. My husband takes over when I am not at home because he believes in what I am doing.
There have been cases of domestic violence in recent times. What can you say about it?
It is so disheartening that violence starts from the home. Parents believe that a male child is superior to the female and some parents still do not see their female children as important. They believe that it is the responsibility of a girl-child to do house chores so we make the girls feel inferior, while we consciously or unconsciously make the boys feel superior. All these are happening from the home. These acts make girls feel they are second-class citizens right in their homes. Violence starts from home and it goes beyond a man beating up his wife.
How would you rate the present administration in Lagos State?
The government is a quiet one but you can see it is performing wonders. It is just that it does not make noise but you can see Lagos is well lit. When I was coming in from Abuja some nights ago I looked out of the window, I was so happy. And I said, yes! This is Lagos, my Lagos. Everywhere was well lit, the place is beautiful and you can see he is constructing roads and bringing dividends of democracy to the people. That is our governor at work for you.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I always tell my children that when I die, what I want written on my tomb is: “This is somebody that came and put smiles on the face of so many people.” That is what I want to be remembered for. It is not how many houses she had built or the number of cars she had acquired or whatever she acquires. After all, for everyone, it is just six feet below. But when you affect peoples’ lives positively, you certainly leave behind a good legacy.
What are you passionate about?
I take delight in giving out to the under-privileged in the society.