By Eric Elezuo
When you talk about agility, passion for service, commitment, determination and focus, one woman possesses all in good quantity. She is Princess Aderemi Adebowale – a kind mother, adorable wife and an administrator of great repute. In this brief chat, she explains the force that drives her aspiration to represent Epe Federal constituency in the House of Representatives. Excerpts:
Would you please fill us in as to what your credentials are considering the position you are vying for and what prompted you to take such a decision?
First of all, I am a people-oriented person. I love people, and desires to be with them always. This quality prompted the establishment of DeboR Zero Hunger Foundation, which primary goal is to feed school children. The vision came when it dawn on me that some children in Lagos don’t have access to breakfast before going to school. How can they therefore, concentrate? How can they face or hear the teacher? This draws down their academic level, and they will remain on a depreciation level. But when they have something in their stomach, they would be alert, ready to learn and their grades would improve. I did all this in Epe Federal Constituency. I started with a meal a day where I gave the children bread and beans with fruits like orange to provide them with vitamin C. However, the cost was a bit high, moreover it was more of lunch than breakfast.
In the alternative, I sourced the most nutritious of drinks and snacks at the Balogun Market by myself, and changed their diet. The feeding was by choice. No one was forced to take his, but every child was given. You therefore, have the privilege to either accept or decline. I replicated the programme in the riverine areas too. They used that as breakfast and felt okay.
Not only that, I also undertook infrastructure repairs functions like when I renovated the nursery section of Odomola Primary School in my father’s hometown. All these were even before I ventured into politics.
Apart from the exhibition of your milk of human kindness, what professional jobs have you undertaken?
I have practiced journalism as a freelancer, writing for The Nation Newspapers. That was in 2013 through to 2014. I wrote on relationship matters because I care for people. I must add that all these while, I was romancing politics on the side. Like I said, I care for people a lot and everything I do is people-centered. I have realized that for me to affect people on a larger scale, politics is the way to go, and that explains my decision to join the mainstream politics. While some people go into politics for their personal gain, that is not my orientation. I have lived in the United States of America for 30 years, and it has shaped my people centred orientation. Over there, there is a sort of unwritten law about being ones brother’s keeper. I have imbibed that culture.
While romancing politics on the side, what were you involved in?
I was on ground in 2011 for Fashola’s re-election. Also, in 2015, I campaigned vigorously for Governor Akinwummi Ambode and President Muhammadu Buhari, which of course was part of our mandate in APC. Again, and more importantly, I was the sole administrator of Iru Victoria Island LCDA.
Okay, let me preempt you there. Somebody must have been a great motivation and inspiration for you to aspire political power. Who is that one great inspiration?
Right now, my greatest inspiration is Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and I will tell you why. Number one; she is a woman and two, she is a selfless person. In 2011, I followed her activities including producing souvenirs for her, and was mesmerized by her carriage and personality. The same in 2015. But when I went to serve in Victoria Island under Eti-Osa, which is part of the senatorial district she covers, I was able to study her very well. She is full of interesting and courageous activities – on a regular basis, she calls a stakeholders’ meeting and presents a report. The report card is a documentation of everything she has done, every project she has covered. This she does on a quarterly basis.
She is also giving to the grassroots people, majorly the women and the youths, people who wish to augment their merchandise, those seeking jobs and many others. Currently, she has a number of young girls she is mentoring.
And of course, she is married to a giant – a selfless father and an all-round achiever – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Why is she very quiet about her good deeds?
Well, I think it’s just the kind of person that she is, and I am emulating her. In truth, I have the same passion myself. If I am asked to rate all the senators in Nigeria, I’ll give her the highest grade.
Why? Because she is a woman?
No. Not at all. As a senator, I give her number one and as a woman I’ll give her A+. She has redefined the popular statement by making it what a man can do better, a woman can do best and that is one of my slogans. I am sorry to say this, it is not as if the other senators are not performing, she just surpasses all of them. We women, we tend to put in our mother-instincts into our work, and this helps in propelling us forward than our male counterparts.
Okay! Before we get back to the role model thing again, we know you must have had quality education. What is your educational background like?
I started my primary school at Ireti Boys and Girls school, Ikoyi but was transferred to Christ Church Cathedral School where I finished primary school. I went to Yaba College of Technology, but stayed for only one year before travelling abroad to study Nursing. It must interest you to know that my father, and in fact everyone in my family is business oriented. There are 25 of us; two are late and about 21 of us are into our own businesses. I’d wanted to setup my own nursing outfit so I studied for my RN.
…RN is an abbreviation for?
Registered Nurse; it’s a professional nursing vocation that qualifies me to open my own nursing agency. I have an Associate Degree in Nursing to become a Professional Registered Nurse in 2006.
At the same time, I was running a sandwich programme at the Lagos State University (LASU) in Political Science and Education. This was because I knew one day I was going to go into politics.
I also have a Masters in Public Health from the International University, Bamenda, Cameroon. All these were happening even as I was doing my business on the side. In between, I started Remindales Healthcare Agency, the Serenity Manor which is a nursing home, Remsen Investment, Purple Heart Construction among others. In fact, I pride myself as an expert in multi-tasking, and I enjoy it. Even now, I run a Talk show programme on TV and still coordinating my campaign for my political aspiration. I will be holding a mega rally on the 7th of September before the primaries on the 27th.
What will you say is responsible for this burst of energy?
I don’t know and I can’t say. Maybe because I’m a Leo and we are always very energetic or maybe I got it from my parents. I’m not just the kind of person to sit back. I am active, energetic. I’m innovative and love to be creative. I read and study a lot. Where do I get the strength from? I think that’s just how I am.
What are you promising the people of Epe as their representative?
In 2015, I contested for the House of reps for the first time. There were 11 of us then and I was the only woman and I was told to step down. Ever since then, I have been an ardent follower of His Excellency, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, believing and supporting his goals and agenda, and I must say he has performed beyond the expectation of everyone including myself.
Sometime in June 2016, I was appointed a sole Administrator for Victoria Island even as my political base is in Epe. However, Oba Idowu Oniru, Akinogun II, who I reverence so much, and the royal family welcomed me with open hands, but the people themselves were not very thrilled, perhaps because I was more like a foreigner in their midst.
Notwithstanding, I brought in my vibrancy and wowed them with my work and vision. Now, they were thrilled. I carried out the mandate of His Excellency to the latter. I kicked off my stewardship by empowering the women. I cooperated with agencies and corporations including LASSA, Zenith Bank and others to change the face of Victoria Island. With LASSA, we renovated a hall, and while they took some parts for their offices, I had a large chunk for women empowerment training. Here, women were trained on makeup skills, head gear tying, photography, fashion designing and many others.
While partnering with the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry under the able leadership of Chief (Mrs) Nike Akande, I created an Information Technology centre. The good thing is that everything about the centre was ready in one week, and it was named after Chief (Mrs.) Akande in appreciation of her support. Before long, we graduated 60 persons (men and women) from the centre. My administration was involved in roads construction and renovations. Let me tell you, I don’t just give instruction and sit back, I go to the site and monitor the actual work being done. Someone once walked up to me and commended my tactics with a promise to vote for APC in all elections. We renovated six roads among which is Bishop Kale road and everyone was happy
On the governor’s instruction, I totally overhauled Eko Hotel roundabout and set up the park you see there today in splendor. We did all that. It is called Serenity Parks and Gardens to depict peace, and located at the Eko Hotel roundabout opposite Zenith Bank. I must appreciate Zenith Bank for their support and partnership in making the place the beauty it is today.
We were also able to conduct three medical missions, starting from August 10, 2016 (my birthday) when we ran free eye test, blood pressure check and we also administered medications. On the second mission, we partnered with Eko Club International and another association from the United States. The third mission was wholly in partnership with the Lagos State government. We achieved much and more within the 13 months at our disposal.
Consequently, if I can do that much in someone else’s environment, it means I can do much more in my own place. Without sounding boastful, I must say that there are people who have been on the seat for eight years and cannot accomplish half of what I did in 13 months.
What prompted your interest to contest the Reps seat?
Thank God for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who made all of us realize we are aspirants through his public proclamation. I therefore, said to myself that in my division a woman hasn’t really come out. Much as we have done things but we haven’t been very active on the political front. I reasoned that if I can represent myself very well in all my endeavours then I can represent the women in Epe Federal Constituency and more importantly, represent my people of Epe generally. I have a wonderful track record in business and as LGA sole administrator in Victoria Island. My interest is prompted by the desire to replicate what I did in Victoria Island and in private business in Epe Federal Constituency – among my own people.
Also, those in the Diaspora are looking out for people like me to make the place better so that they can come up home and join the rebuilding process. In fact, a lot of people are looking up to me to make a major difference, and I cannot fail them. It’s not just about me or my people here, it transcends to my people outside the country because we want them to come back home. They want to come home to a replica of what they are used to out there.
I want to create a space where people will detest collecting N5, 000 to vote in elections, rather empower them to make N5, 000 daily, and by the end of a four year tenure, he or she would have earned seven million, 300 thousand naira – that is what an average Nigerian should be earning.
Since you declared your intention to run for this position, what would you say the reception has been like?
Tremendous! Remember, I said I wasn’t out rightly interested in this position but as a firm believer in God, I prayed, I said God, if this isn’t your will, don’t allow anyone believe in me, but if it is, let me see the sign. Ever since, the response has been positive and welcoming. In fact, there was a time I felt like crying and I said, God this is not me this is you. I am just an instrument; just use me to change and better peoples’ lives. The reception, without mincing words, has been very overwhelming.
Why the House of Reps? Why not LG chairman or state House of Assembly
Well, when we were appointed sole administrator, a caveat was attached which prohibits contesting for local government chairmanship, so that one was out of it.
Now, for the House of Assembly, it goes beyond what I can say in an interview but I felt that since I came out for the House of Reps in 2015, why not come and try it again?
Again, in Epe we have three local governments that make up the constituency, and each of the house must go one term, and allow another to go.
So, you’re saying the incumbent has gone for his LGA?
It’s an understanding. One good thing about the whole set up is the absence of godfatherism. It is a good start. We the women are coming out to say let us do our best, let us show our people that we can represent them and progress their interest. We just want to show that we are vibrant, strong, active and full of ideas just as it is in other countries.
We understand that there are five of you contesting. What would you say you have or possess that these other persons don’t and would give you an edge?
First of all, they are all my brothers, but what do I have that they don’t? Well, I’m a woman and they are not. Two, I have worked in Victoria Island and people have seen my performance and I think my track record speaks for me. In my hometown, every December 27 is set aside for celebration and bonding. It is mostly centred on the youth because I love them and we have a splendid working relationship. Last year’s edition was awesome.
Much as I am a Christian, we also gather during Ileya festivals and felicitate with one another. I do that in honour of our father, who himself was a Moslem.
I am a contributor to the AMBSAM Memorial Foundation in honour of those who died in the 2015 general elections; about six of them. Presently, we are building a state of the art CPR center at Epe General Hospital. AMBAM is a group that is so dear to my heart, and I made history as the first woman to join the foundation. At the moment, I am the Assistant Secretary. I have done more than these and I think it is time I helped my people better on a higher political level. And that informed my resolve to seek election to the House of Representatives.
Ma, what would you say about this statement “absolute power corrupts absolutely?” All these things you are doing, you did when you didn’t have a lot of power but what is the promise that when you get there, you would keep on being a lover of the people?
I believe so much in foundational knowledge, that is the knowledge and training one acquired during his formative years. In essence, if all the time I had been here and I have not been corrupted, I doubt if I would ever be. I am very open to people, and will never change that stance.
Okay ma. What we are saying is that people make promises when going for positions, but when they finally get there, they forget everything
I am not wired that way. Remember, I have been a Sole Administrator before so I understand these things but that is not my attitude. I am a people oriented individual. What I want is to always bring the best out of people at all times. Coming out is not a do-or-die affair. If God says yes, who can say no? If I win, I am not going to be arrogant. I was in Victoria Island and you know it is one of the moneymaking hubs in Lagos State but I wasn’t rude or proud. I had an opendoor policy and people could come into my office and talk to me.
I would continue to look after myself with prayer, ask God for wisdom, knowledge and understanding and pray he guides and directs my steps.