Mrs. Abiodun is the pretty wife of Ogun, Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun. Since she became the First Lady of Ogun, she has been helping others to bloom. She is a voice for those who cannot speak and a helping hand for people in need. She is a woman loved by many because of her simplicity and calm nature. She is brainy, beautiful, highly reserved and a quintessential woman. Even before her major appearance as Ogun First Lady, Bamidele Abiodun had always been prominent within her corporate space and by extension of her influential background. She is from the prominent Oduoye family from Ilisan in Ijebu, Ogun State.
She calls the shots within her space and has no airs around her. Despite being a wife of an oil magnate, she is always on the reserved side. She fits the status of her husband and both of them are really stylish if there is any word like that. It will surprise you to know that this beautiful woman is a shrewd businesswoman and not just doing any business. She has made her mark in the male-dominating business which is petroleum industry. She has been in the business for 21 years and as well as keeping her home front by making sure her husband and children are her priorities. She is a woman, who loves to inspire others. There is no gainsaying that when she became the first lady of Ogun State, she has been engrossed in women uplift and empowerment in Ogun State. City People’s Society Editor, TAYO FAJORIN OYEDIJI, who was part of the Arise Women Conference Media Team brings you an exciting interview that Ogun First Lady granted to the Arise Team, where she spoke about how she has made a success of her career, her job as Ogun First Lady and passion towards women.
First, let’s talk about your education, career, and family?
Born in the 60’s ,I grew up and had my primary, secondary and tertiary education in Ibadan. I am an entrepreneur and I am the second of four children to Professor Oladipo and the late Mrs. Abimbola Oduye. I am blessed with five children.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I think initially I wanted to be a doctor mainly because my dad was in that field. But like any young person,my leanings continued to evolve as I grew up. And today I am an entrepreneur.
Who is your role model and why?
Hmmm, a role model. They are many and that will be a wide-ranging discussion for another day. But let me say this,I deeply admire many women in leadership positions and governance, who have truly distinguished themselves both at home in Nigeria and internationally.
How did you raise the initial capital to fund your business?
I started small with a little money from friends and family members. People you can trust, people that, if you fail at the beginning stages, will not make trouble for you, I am also fortunate to have a loving and very supportive husband. So, that helped.
How challenging is it to run a business in Nigeria?
Wow! This question, where do I begin? Is it electricity? Tough regulatory environment? Trust issues- chasing drivers and loaders at the port,following up on payment. The issues are many . If you are an entrepreneur in Nigeria and a woman ,you are a miracle worker. However, Nigeria is also a land of boundless opportunities. All you need is the right idea at the right time and you will surely succeed.
As a businesswoman, were you interested in politics and public service,or you just found yourself being the First Lady by sheer luck?
I am quiet and reserved. I don’t like trouble. And if you are in politics, not just here but anywhere in the world, it can be very tough on you and the people you love. However, when I saw how passionate my husband was to serve Ogun State and to give all his time and resources to running for governor, I decided to support him. I believe in his vision and I am rooting for him and praying that he excels. Also, I have always been interested in issues around women, children and social justice.
Women need role models because there is still a small minority, who are running major businesses. Can you share with us some strategies women can use to achieve a more prominent role in their career choices?
You know I can sit here and reel out a 7-point formulae for how you can succeed as a woman in business. But the truth is everyone has a different set of experiences, different talents and strengths. So, I will say this, play to your strength. Get so good at what you do that you cannot be ignored, in other words, practice, learn all you can and give your best. Have a vision of where you want to go and develop practical strategies to get there. You might not be well educated or well exposed, you might not even be attractive by the world’s standards, but if you have something to give or something to do, give it your best every single time, you will succeed.
What’s one leadership lesson you have learned in your career and what lessons can other women draw from your experiences?
First of all, people, whether they are your clients or your staff, want to know that you care. As a leader, you need to demonstrate this, and people will follow you to the end of the earth. Second, again, One of the things you will realise in business is that good people are hard to come by. You will meet fraudsters, liars and incompetent hands as you go about your endeavours. So as a leader, when you find someone who is fundamentally good and trainable, do your best to keep them with you for as long as you can.
You spoke extensively about being a hands-on mum at the last women in leadership event. What are some of your favorite mother moments?
My favorite mother moment is when I have all my children together in one place.
How do you manage to teach your children the same resilience that you have shown through your life when they have many privileges than you did while growing up?
Depend on God even in the face of adversity knowing that he knows what’s best for you. Even with that, pleasant and unpleasant things can happen, but it does not mean God is not present. He is just, trusts him.
What advice would you give to women trying to break into male-dominated fields?
Don’t try to be like men. Be You. Do things differently, but better. Show everyone a more excellent way, a more efficient way and a cheaper way to achieve the same result. Get those qualifications if you can afford it, but let me tell you a secret, most of those male leaders in business with Harvard MBAs they got those MBAs and higher qualifications after they got into leadership. Check their profiles, you will see. So don’t bend over backward trying to be like them. Be you, demonstrate competence and diligence, you will excel.
Can you share with us two lessons from failing?
Failure is a humbling thing, It helps you to know that you are not invincible and in my view, everyone needs to know this.
What is the most surprising thing about being the First Lady for you?
The fact that everyone wants to treat me differently. I am still the same old Bamidele. Nothing has changed except, of course, the volume of work which means less time to invest in nurturing the relationships with friends and families.
On a lighter note, is it fun to be a governor’s wife?
Hmmm, Still waiting for the fun part. The other day I woke up and someone told me that my Instagram following had grown from 100 to 1000 in a matter of hours. When they checked, they said it was because my husband wished me a happy birthday and tagged me. I thought that was funny because I was hardly on social media 3 months earlier.
What do you intend to accomplish over the next four years?
I would like to touch as many lives as I can with programmes that have a lasting and sustainable impact.
How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone who cares
What is the most beautiful thing about your marriage?
Love. It bears all things, believes all things and endures all things.
This year’s Arise Women conference theme is tagged bloom, what does this theme mean to you both in a personal capacity and public capacity?
Life is all about seasons. For me, this is a season to sow seeds of hope in the lives of people. Being a public official is for a time, but while I am here, I will like to help people bloom and be the best they can be.