LAGOS Lawmaker, Hon. FOLUKE OSAFILE
This is candid advice coming from Hon. Foluke Osafile, member of Lagos State House of Assembly admonishing fellow women who are interested in actively joining politics for good. During an interview session with City People NIFEMI KAZEEM and JAMIU ABUBABKAR, she took time to relate what women of this era should consider before venturing into politics as she clamours for more women to seek political offices in a bid to transform Nigeria for good. Below are excerpts:
How Have you been able to balance politics with your responsibilities as wife and mother at home?
Very, very good question. It’s like asking how I’ve been able to balance my life. Honestly, we all need each other. No man is an island and you cannot walk alone. Your support system is very, very key. Your husband, your spouse, must support you. Also your children who are grown up should be able to have an understanding that our mummy may not be at home. They should be able to assist to do some basic tasks at home’. Then your support system; your driver, your cook, your nanny, your gardener, whoever that you employ, they are your support system. They are very important. I’m here now. My daughter is in school. She will be back from school maybe 2, 3 PM. Somebody must be home to attend to her. That is the support system. Even as a man, you need it. You need the support of your spouse. You can’t walk alone. So it is very, very important. Whosoever you surround yourselves with and how you live your life matters. Don’t go beyond your limits and all will be well. My children already know, mummy will not get back until 7 or 8pm. My own is that once in a while you put a call through to know what’s happening at home. Your spouse must be supportive. I thank God that my own husband is supportive 100%.
To women, who also look forward to joining politics but feel discouraged by what they see and hear happening around, what advice do you have for them?
I will say that one thing is, know your purpose in life. Know why God created you. You cannot run my race. I cannot run your own race for you. Know your purpose. Know why God called you and why you are here on earth. Two, follow your passion so that you will be fulfilled in life. Then three, is on your education, you should get educated. Have something to do, have your own money. If they say the nomination form is 5 million, 3 million, 1 million, you should be able to pay that aside your spouse. Then I want to say this, especially for women, if you’re nursing a child, don’t go into politics yet. At least your child should be able to brush his or her teeth, bath for himself or herself then you’re free to go. But if you still have children in their formative years, it’s not so encouraging. Your attention must be 100% in whatever you’re doing. Your home front must not be neglected. Then your political life too. It’s like a career. It’s like any other career. When they say politicians stay late, attend night meetings and all that, I will ask; for nurses, don’t they go for night duties? Doctors, don’t they go for night duties? Even pastors, don’t they go for vigil? It’s night. So it’s the same thing. Some of our meetings could be at night as a result of timing. We don’t want distraction. No phone calls, 100% concentration. It’s at night. And thank God you have a supporting spouse at home. He should know that meeting is meeting nothing else. You’re good to go. There’s no big deal. There’s no myth about Women being in politics. There’s no big deal. Like my mentor, my uncle will say, what do you need in politics? Is it not your brain? I remember when it was time, when I was learning how to drive as a teenager. My dad asked me, what do they use in driving? Is it not the hand, eye, or leg? He would say; “oya enter and move this car, move this car! You have nothing to fear.” And I’m saying so to the women. Nothing to fear. Move on. Another thing is; know your limits, don’t go beyond your limits. Then, of course, my party, the Labour Party, gave women a soft landing during the last general elections. They made the nomination form free for women in the party. So, I went for it. Then every other expenses to run campaigns, you are on your own. As I’m here now, I’m independent. There’s no question of godfather is somewhere dictating to you, asking you to bring returns, and giving you unnecessary pressure. It’s uncalled for!
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m the last child in the family of eight. I have my siblings. They are far older than me. I belong to another generation. In fact, my older siblings could easily pass as my mom. So I’m their last born, loved. But I was never treated as a baby of the house. From the onset, I’ve been on my own. I take responsibility as a teenager. Making money for myself. My mom’s business, I just took it naturally and it just flowed like that. I wouldn’t say I’m a baby of the house per se. About growing up and my formative years, I was born in the late 1960s during the Civil War. I had my formative years in Ondo State. I graduated from Yaba College of Technology. “Yaba College of Tension”. That’s what we call it then. After my first degree, I had my PGD in Theology. So that launched me properly into the ministry. I fellowship with the Redeemed Christian Church of God. I’m a fully ordained pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Married with children, adults, and I still have a minor. I’m married to Pastor Steve Osafile. The rest is history.
You are a pastor, how does being a pastor rub on your political ideology?
Of course, there are some people who believe that politics is for rascals. You can be radical, you can be a rascal, and you can equally be a pastor. You can be radical for Jesus. So as a pastor, I think it’s an advantage. It’s an advantage because there’s nothing absolutely new in this life. So there’s no shocker coming that by the grace of God I wouldn’t say I can withstand. And there’s no temperament you’re coming with that I would not be able to withstand. Mad people will come to church. Sane people will come to church. Some they get healed; some refuse to be healed. So we work together. You can’t insult me and I’ll be irritated and fight back. It’s not possible. I want to believe it’s an advantage for me. You yab me, ‘ebu o so!’. You move on, we move on. Unlike some others, they may carry it on their head and at the end of the day, the enmity will ensue. I don’t have time. I’m too busy and focused. I know where I’m going. It’s a plus for me. Some, they’ll say, ah, she will backslide. Backslide from who? that I will not follow Jesus again? It’s not possible. It’s an advantage for me. And it is best you let people know who you are from on set. Nobody can invite me to a shrine. It’s not possible! It’s not possible!!. I am who I am and I remain focused like that. Whatever God cannot do, they say; it does not exist. So that is it. That’s my mantra. And I’m a light and I must illuminate anywhere and everywhere I go. If there’s darkness, I will be the light there. And that is why even more pastors should come on board. There is no corruption anywhere. Na you wan corrupt, if they corrupt you.
On the lingering hardship of the economy, what is your advice to the people?
Honestly, this goes down to our mantra. We cannot continue to be doing the same thing over and over again, and expect different results. If we truly want a change, economically and otherwise, especially now that we are where we are now, as it is, we need to move from consumption to production. We are just consuming. We are not producing. And that is why there’s so much pressure on the dollar against the naira. It’s the law of demand and supply that is at work. If you look at the population of Nigeria’s abroad studying you need to finance them with dollars, it’s not a child’s play. Nigerians are the ones sustaining the UK educational sector. Go and check the statistics. We are just consuming. We are not producing. So, until we stop that, “we dey play”.