By Eric Elezuo (with Agency reports)
An embodiment of royalty soaked in humility, Mrs. Toyin Ojora Saraki, remains an enigma who has consistently churned out achievements that are devoid of political motivations or self-aggrandizement. She is believed to be one of the few if not the only former governor’s wife, who has sustained a pet project developed while in office as the first lady – a project she has nurtured to enviable maturity, transcending the shores of Nigeria and into the African sub-regions.
She is better known as a prolific healthcare philanthropist and the Founder-President of Wellbeing Foundation Africa – a project she holds so dear.
Mrs. Saraki was born on September 6, 1964 to the royal family of Otunba Adekunle and Erelu Ojora.
She started her educational sojourn at an elementary school in Lagos, before proceeding to the United Kingdom where she attended Roedean School, Brighton Sussex. Thereafter, she bagged her L.L.B and L.L.M degrees at the London School of Oriental and African Studies and Kings College both of the University of London and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988.
While in England, she devoted most of her time to taking care of the aged and sick. She also made efforts to be a part of the routine welfare scheme of the schools she attended. This great woman has dedicated her life to selfless service to humanity; she is always on the move to save lives and give hope to the hopeless.
A global advocate of the UN’s Every Woman Every Child effort, she acts as board chair of the White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria, and is also the Chairperson of the FIDA International Committee on Laws Protecting the Rights of Children and the Goodwill Ambassador of the Olave Baden-Powell Society (OB-PS), an organization that supports the efforts of the World Association of Girls Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). She also sits on the boards of the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence and The Africa Justice Foundation. Her life revolves round selfless service to the underprivileged.
Toyin Ojora Saraki has committed herself to the higher religion of service to humanity, a vocation she is completely sold out to. She has gone the extra mile to touch the lives of many, especially those of the less privileged women and children. Hundreds of women have benefited from the enterprise scheme of her organization. She has also paid particular attention to improving the lives of people with special needs among several other lifesaving initiatives and interventions.
In a TEDx speech she recounts, “We have done a lot for legislation to raise the expectations of what your government owes you. We also work very closely on the front-line with women, we have a fund that will pay money if you need a caesarean section and you can’t pay for it, to save lives. But at the same time we believe that a health- seeking woman is necessarily an empowered woman so we try to get the woman before the emergency occurs to train them about what should be the best –case scenario…as Africans we are not there yet in what we need for our people”.
This great woman is reckoned as a leading advocate for the actualization of the rights of children. In November 2008, she delivered the keynote address at the 33rd biennial convention of the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Milan, Italy on the topic “Children are the Future; What Rights, What Laws?” She has also received several awards of recognition for her contribution to the emancipation of women and children in Nigeria and beyond, including the Award for Advocate of Excellence for Maternal and Child Health from the Association of Resident Doctors, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Chapter among many others.
Toyin Saraki is also engaged in numerous philanthropic gestures one of which is the establishment of The Lifestream Charity in 1993. The Lifestream, pioneered by Mrs.Saraki, is a group comprising of like- minded and socially responsible friends who desire to help the society. The organisation seeks children with heart deformities and has sponsored corrective surgeries in Israel, United Kingdom and South Africa. The charity also offers scholarships to indigent students, sends relief to disaster victims and builds schools for communities. This great lady continues to make her mark in Africa, saving lives and enriching our dear Continent. You too can make a difference; brighten the corner where you are.
She has received several awards of recognition for her contribution to the emancipation of women and children in Nigeria including the Award for Advocate of Excellence for Maternal and Child Health from the Association of Resident Doctors, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Chapter among others.
Toyin is married to the current Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and was the First Lady of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011 while her husband held sway as the governor. She is blessed with four adorable children.
Ma, for your desire and hunger to affect humanity and make the world a much more better place, you are our Boss of the Week. Congratulations and happy birthday!