God prepared me to become First Lady –Ekiti gov’s wife, Olayemi Oyebanji

dac olayemi oyebmiji
dac olayemi oyebmiji

My early life was just like that of any typical Ekiti girl, who is nurtured to appreciate the core value of ‘omoluabi’ (responsibility) and uphold those unique attributes that single out an Ekiti person. Those attributes include integrity, honesty and self-esteem. My father, the late Prince Samuel Adedipe, was a Christian, community leader and businessman, who did not only want all his children to live Christian lives, but also imbibe basic moral principles that would distinguish us in society.

Our parents also taught us virtues such as integrity, love and being respectful to elders. Like many parents of his generation, my father believed in education and expected good character from all his children. To a large extent, I think those values have helped me tremendously in my educational pursuit, career and as a wife and mother. As I was grew older, I realised that the state being called ‘the land of honour’ was not accidental. That sobriquet is not just a nomenclature, but the truth. Thus, we (people from Ekiti) have to embody the values that the sobriquet connotes. That way, the outside world won’t only see us as a people from a state called ‘land of honour’; but perceive us as people of honour.

That simple philosophy aptly guided my early life, relationships in the workplace, and shaping me into who I am today.

Yes. I had always loved to become a lawyer, because by nature, I am very expressive, and I’m not easily intimidated. However, at the point of gaining admission into the university, the result of my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination did not meet the cut-off mark to study Law; and, I was advised to change to another course.

I then had to change to Educational Management. Back then, I thought that when I got to 200 level, I would cross over to Law. But, by the time I got to 200 level, I had fallen in love with the course I was studying. That was how I ended up becoming an educational administrator, with my areas of specialisation being personnel management, quality assurance in education, and leadership in education. I actually did not plan it, but providence led me to it. I eventually bagged a Bachelor, Master’s and doctorate in the field.

Of course, when someone’s academic trajectory is along that line, it is natural for one to head towards being a vocational professional. I ended up being a lecturer; not because that was what I planned to be, but because fate led me in that direction. I never thought of becoming a lecturer, but I later enjoyed it.

It never crossed my mind that my husband would one day contemplate seeking an elective post. As a child, I had an indifferent view about politics. That was, perhaps because I was already aware of what was happening around me during the 1983 (political) crisis in the old Ondo State, when there was a lot of violence which led to the loss of lives and property. Ekiti was still part of Ondo State then. The fallout from that singular crisis created fear (of politics) in many children of our generation, and I tried as much as possible not to be attracted to politics.

It will also interest you to know that subconsciously, one of the first questions I asked my husband when we were dating was whether he would one day go into politics. His answer was diplomatic, but I followed it up by boxing him into a corner to promise me he would never go into politics. Aside from the experience of 1983, the fact that my husband had his first and second degrees in Political Science also spurred my curiosity (about his interest in politics).

(Laughs) As a lover boy then, who was determined to sweep me off my feet, he made the promise to me. You will agree with me that the question became necessary then because of my level of understanding of life, and how God works in our lives. Also, he made the promise because he was ready to do everything I wanted to win my heart. The rest is history.

Between the time I asked him not to contemplate going into politics and the time he eventually chose to aspire (for public office), my scope had widened, and my experience about life had changed.

Above all, I am a born-again Christian, and God had given me many signs that my husband was being prepared to fulfill destiny in the public service. When God sends His own on a mission, He empowers the person for the work ahead. My husband was a university lecturer, who later had a stint in the banking industry, before the present Minister of Industry and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, invited him to serve in his government as the first elected governor of Ekiti State between 1999 and 2003. He (my husband) served in three capacities— personal assistant, special adviser and later Chief of Staff.

In 2014, the immediate past governor of the state, Kayode Fayemi, again invited him to become a commissioner, and he also served that government in three capacities, including being the Secretary to State Government. Unknown to both of us but clear to God, he was being prepared (for a higher office). As a result of all these, when God showed me the sign that he would become the governor, I was helpless. I had no option but to support him spiritually, emotionally and morally. We thank God it ended in praise.

Naturally, when one is in such situation, one would definitely be concerned. However, I was not in any way demoralised.

In the first place, politics is dynamic and complex. As a result of its complexity and competitive nature, it is expected that there would be disagreements, reconciliation and power sharing. Having spent years as a political spectator, I was experienced enough to know how the APC settled rancour (within its ranks). I was, therefore, not surprised that everything was later resolved, and all parties involved worked for my husband’s emergence as governor.

Coming to the second leg of your question that my faith must have been shaken at that time; that’s to the extreme. As a born-again Christian, my faith in God is ever strong. From day one, my belief was that if it was God’s will that my husband would be governor, nothing would change it.

I don’t have any fear. I know that since it is the will of God for him to emerge as the governor, he would be empowered to do the job. For instance, despite the lean resources and other challenges you made reference to, the people of the state can bear witness to the fact that in the last 100 days, Governor Oyebanji has embarked on rehabilitation of roads, paying monthly salaries to workers, among other activities. However, I may not be able to dwell so much on issues relating to many of these issues because they are not within my purview.

Again, God has prepared me for the office and He guided my ways to actualise whatever I plan to do as the first lady. My primary area of focus is to champion the cause of women and children, especially widows and orphans.

However, that does not mean I will close my eyes to issues that concern every Ekiti citizen and resident. To raise the bar, I believe that my upbringing (experience) as a girl who attended public schools all through my educational pursuits will come in handy when it comes to tackling some of the challenges that could come with occupying such office.

I am not just a university lecturer; I have expertise in areas such as institutional administration, higher education, quality assurance in education and human resource development, and leadership in education. Besides, I have undertaken research works, either singlehandedly or with other scholars in many relevant fields that will help me address issues concerning education in Ekiti, especially that of the girl-child. For instance, I have in my library, literary works bordering on work-life balance, and teachers’ job satisfaction in Lagos State secondary schools. I also have materials on sex education and moral decadence among senior secondary students in public schools in Ibadan. This is in addition to works on the funding of higher education in Nigeria beyond the monthly government subvention. All these research findings will, of course, help in my area of focus as the state’s first lady.

Without sounding immodest, I believe I can conveniently replicate and domesticate the findings in those research works in Ekiti by working with relevant authorities in the education sector.

I was still coming to that but you took it from me. We are currently at the consultation level, and I have started meeting with stakeholders in the sector. I have held meeting with teachers, as well as the management team of the Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board, led by Femi Akinwumi, a distinguished professor of Educational Management. Incidentally, Prof Akinwumi was my colleague in the same department at the University of Ibadan, and we had a good working relationship. I have expressed my willingness to collaborate with all the educational institutions in Ekiti State, with the sole aim of positively impacting students in the state.


As the first lady of the state, we will also not shy away from issues around gender-based violence, which is already in the front burner in Ekiti.

Just recently, my office organised a one-day training on data collation procedures for the Widows and Orphans Hope Project. The project is designed to reach out to those in the aforementioned categories.

At this juncture, I want to crave the indulgence of Nigerians to appreciate and applaud my predecessor in office, Bisi Fayemi, who did a lot (of work) in this area, and made our dear state to be rated number one when it comes to the fight against rape, women abuse and other such vices in society.

She is an internationally-acclaimed women’s rights activists. She set a pace and designed a good template for us to leverage on. In identifying with this and working in the same direction, I have met with traditional rulers in the state, and sought their support for my vision of get children back to school. I have also met with the Ekiti State chapter of the International Federation of Women Lawyers on a possible collaboration between us. I have also had a meeting with the leadership of the Ekiti State Medical Women Association of Nigeria for the same purpose. In all these, the feedback has been encouraging. I believe it is a cause that will enjoy divine intervention.

It is said that ‘Rome was not built in a day’. Between 1999, when we embarked on the current democratic dispensation, to now, a lot has changed in this direction, and things keeps changing for the better. For instance, in Ekiti, with the support of the former governor, Kayode Fayemi, and his wife, Bisi; and other stakeholders, the stakes have since been raised for more participation of women in politics.

The reorientation and campaign for more women participation will continue, and I am sure we will get there. On this note, I will equally urge political leaders and other stakeholders to shift ground a little for the female, gender because women have come of age and they have the requisite discipline, administrative skill and experience to be good leaders. If we do this, Nigeria will be able to harness the huge potential of the female folk.

They include straightforwardness and honesty. I don’t like fake people, who appear differently from who they really are. I am a very real (unpretentious) person.

First, I did not meet him in Ekiti, and I did not know at the first meeting that he was an Ekiti man. Back then, I was an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan, and he was a post-graduate student in the same institution. Funnily enough, I was just in 100 level when we met. I actually met him through my elder sister. In those days, most people that went for Master’s degrees were elderly people. In those days, one would see big shots in various fields of human endeavour holding their books and running to catch up with lectures.

Back to your question; a Federal Road Safety Corps commander in Oyo State then was husband’s classmate and also a family friend. He was the one who brought my husband to our house in Ibadan, where I was living with my sister.

As time went on, I found out that he is also from Ekiti. Even at that, it was not a ready-made answer (to accept him). I was a good Christian, and his Ekiti origin notwithstanding, there was still a need for prayers (to know if he was the one for me), and that was what I did.

Let me also note that my mother had always insisted that I should marry a Yoruba man. Though she did not say it expressly, but in parables, and we (me and other siblings) got the message. That was the norm in those days; unlike what obtains now.

Today as a Christian, what matters is for God to choose for our children. It does not matter the person’s tribe; whether Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa or Ibibio.  One should just be sure that it is the will of God.

Again, back to your contact, I got in contact with my husband, and we became friends for a very long time before we eventually got married.

Yes, we were friends for many years and along the line, I started to like him. I was in my final year before he proposed to me. He proposed to me at the bus stop. He just looked at me lovingly, asked the golden question (will you marry me?). And, the rest, as they say, is history.

First and most importantly, they should build their home on the foundation of Jesus Christ. They should allow God run their affairs and trust Him that He will do so perfectly. Also, they should make ‘trust’ and ‘team work’ their watchwords. With these, a good home is assured.

For anyone aspiring to be what God wants them to be, they will surely go through ups and downs. I have had different challenges over the years, but God’s grace has always helped me to scale through.

For instance, my days in the university were very tough because I had to struggle for many things.

I struggled to pay school fees, buy textbooks and pay for accommodation, because I did not come from a financially buoyant family. It was tough, but I was still able to graduate with a second class upper degree.

I also still moved on to the point of having my PhD in the same institution. Basically, it (life) has been a mixture of both sweet and sour stories. But in all, I thank God.

Nothing worthwhile comes without challenges, and I am prepared for them. Getting here was not that easy. There is no way one would want to be the best version of oneself that God wants one to be without facing challenges. Being the first lady of this state did not come cheap. It is not a tea party at all; but God proved Himself faithful all the way. I have said it at different for a; before my husband became the governor of the state, God had already told me (that it would happen). If God wants to do something, He would drop it with one first, and also share it with one or two other people to confirm it. The Bible says, ‘in the mouth of two or three (witnesses), a thing shall be established’.

Aside from me, my children also saw the vision and we started nursing it in the place of prayer. It was not because any of us was desperate, but due to the fact that it was the will of God. Because God had already revealed it to me, He helped us to surmount any hurdle or obstacle on our way. I did not see the process as being difficult because I knew it was the will of God. It is still the same God we are relying on to help us with the task ahead. I have no doubt that He will be there for us.

How else can a teacher unwind except by reading (laughs)? Most times, I take solace in reading books and the Holy Bible. Occasionally, I watch movies too; as well as listen to classical and inspirational music.

It is difficult to narrow it down to one. However, I was happy when I defended my PhD thesis, because I had been looking forward to it for a long time.

Also, I was extremely happy when I became a mother. In the same vein, my joy knew no bounds when my husband was sworn-in as the governor on October 16, 2022.

Not at all; I don’t have any regrets. But, I would have wished for my father and mother-in-law to be alive to witness this glorious time in our lives.