My Toughest Period With Baba Kabiru – Alhaja Sherifat

Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola, wife of the Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has been known to be a pillar of support for her husband through thick and thin. One of the few governors’ wives who do not believe in the gaudiness and contrived glamour of office, Alhaja Sherifat would rather complement her husband’s people-centric activities than compete for attention with him.

In this interview with the Progressive Focus Magazine, she reveals intimate details about her husband.

Your husband is seen to be tough; from being a relentless activist to his emergence as the executive governor of the State of Osun; how does it feel being his wife?

A tough man? You might see him as a tough man but I don’t see him as such. I see him as a friend, a husband, a companion and a good father to his children.

How has the journey been since you came together as a couple?

We met so many years ago and we got married exactly 30 years back. So far so good, as you know, there is no marriage that does not have its own challenges. My own challenge was only during the struggle for his political ambition. Even with that, we can be said to be the best couple in the whole world. The time of his political struggle was so tough, especially when he was detained and put in Yaba Police Station (Lagos). The one that really made me feel so bad was when my daughter was around. The subsequent ones, I was able to manage them because I was alone. But this particular one, our daughter was around. Her witnessing what we have been going through was really tough for me. I felt so bad. That was the only one that I felt so bad about. But thank God, we were able to manage it and victory came eventually.

So much happened during the struggle to reclaim Ogbeni’s mandate, especially when party agents were killed and he was being persecuted.

As his wife, were you not scared of his life?

Of course, I was. There were so many things that made me fear for his life. First of all, I really feel for those who lost their lives and I pray to God Almighty to be with their families. During the struggle, so many things happened but there was a particular one on the judgment day when his application was thrown out for the second time by the election petition tribunal in Osogbo here. That was before he went to the Appeal Court and won. I told him then that after this, there is no more appeal and nothing again.

I told him I meant it. He said if he goes for the appeal, what would happen? I said he should just wait and see, but insisted that I meant what I was saying. He asked if I was sure; and I said I was. He said okay, I have heard you, I won’t go for the appeal again.

Fortunately, he called Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (I call him Big Daddy), and told him what I said. In less than 15 minutes, Big Daddy called me. I didn’t have his number because I didn’t have any cause to call him. If I needed to talk to him, I would talk to my husband first. So that day, I saw the strange number but I didn’t pick it. Later, Mrs. Remi Tinubu called me and I picked. She said, ‘where are you?’ I said ‘I am home’. She said ‘your daddy has been calling you, why didn’t you pick his call?’ I said ‘I didn’t know it was him’. She said I should hold on for him. He (Asiwaju Tinubu) now said ‘Sheri awa n lo si appeal o, a ma a lo si appeal’ (Sheri, we would go to the Appeal Court). I said yes sir! ‘A maa fight e tan ni (We would make sure we finish the battle). I said ‘yes sir!’ And that was all. I later accused my husband of calling Asiwaju to talk to me. Later, Mrs. Tinubu came and met me crying and she asked why? I said I was fed up and that we should just forget about it.

She really encouraged me and to God be the glory today because we went for the appeal and God answered our prayer.

How did you feel when the news came that he eventually won at the Appeal Court despite your earlier warning against it?

I was happy because it was a Friday. Some days to the judgment, I already knew that something good was going to happen but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I kept on having the feeling that something was about to happen, but what it was, I didn’t know. I was just crying. I cried to the extent that my husband called Mrs. Tinubu to come over. She came and when she asked me what the problem was, I could not say anything. If anybody asked me, I wouldn’t be able to answer. Instead, I would still be crying. When you say ‘don’t cry’ I would start again. That was how I knew that something was going to happen.

But you knew that the Appeal Court was about to give its judgment on your husband’s matter?

In fact, I didn’t put my mind on the Appeal Court issue.

You couldn’t connect the two?

I couldn’t at all. I had erased the issue of politics in my life. I had erased it totally. So I was not thinking about the appeal court matter. But Mrs. Tinubu told me that some days to that day, God revealed to her that He had answered my husband’s prayers through that cry.

Please, tell us specifically what kind of a man Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola is at home?

Whao! He is fantastic. That is a very good question. Sometimes, if I look at him, I ask myself, do I really deserve this man? He is a very good husband, a God- fearing person. I don’t know how to qualify him. He has the love of people in his mind. He is a free giver. If possible, he could pluck his eyes and give to another person. He cares for other more than himself. He is a very nice man. He is my friend, my husband, my father, my companion, and a good father to his children.

Can you take us back to how he proposed to you?

(Loud laughter) That was 30 years ago. Fantastic! That is good. How he proposed to me? He walked up to me and he proposed to me. Just as simple as that? Yes, as simple as that. He saw me, came over and said I’m Rauf. I said yes, what do you want? He said can we be friends and I said that is fine. That was all and that was how we parted that day. That was in Kaduna when he came for his mandatory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

So, you met in Kaduna?

Yes, and after that I didn’t see him for the next three months. He came back later and said the Nigeria External Telecommunication (now NITEL) had offered him a job. According to him, his station would be in Oyo State but he refused and requested to be in Kaduna because of me. That was how we started.

Does he have a pet name for you?

Pet name? No.

He calls you by your first name?

Then, he did. But now he calls me Mama Kabiru.

What do you call him?

I used to call him ‘Brother’ when we started. He said he is not my brother, that he is my friend and my husband. When we got married, we had Kabiru. So, I have been calling him Baba Kabiru since. We don’t have any pet name.

What is his favourite dish?

He doesn’t have one. He eats anything I prepare for him.

Looking at his projects as the Governor of the State of Osun, which of them do you like most?

The one I like most is the infrastructural development, the road, building of new schools, health care for the children, upgrading the environment and all the others because they are all centered on the people he is serving.

You mean you like all the projects?

Yes, they are fantastic and are uplifting the State of Osun and the live of its people.

What would you advise him on governance if you were asked?

There is nothing than to tell him to continue to give his best to the people of the state. My concern now is for him to complete what he has started.

There is no area you think you can tell him to improve on?

I don’t think so. He is doing everything at once. If he asked me from day one, I would have asked him to start one and finish it before embarking on another. But I think politics is not like that. It is about doing everything at a time. When they see the infrastructure, agriculture, schools, and all are going on at the same time, they say you are doing well. You can see that even if I would have to advise him on governance, it would not go right.

Unlike many other first ladies, you don’t jump around to make noise about yourself and your pet projects. Is this the way you like it or it was by Ogbeni’s design?

First and foremost, let me correct the impression about the fact that others go up and down. There is no role for any first lady. We were not voted for, so there is no Office of the First Lady. The role of the first lady is to take care of the home front; take care of the governor, the family, his visitors and anything that has to do with the Government House. You can see that even if a first lady is doing a particular programme, it is just to keep herself moving so that she does not sit at home doing nothing and get bored. Two, I didn’t blame others who do projects. I do projects too in my own capacity, but in a very low key. There is no point making noise about it because even when you are not making noise, people would still know and they would refer to it.

Is that your decision or that is the way your husband wants it?

It is my own life. I like being simple.

Given the experience you and your husband had in pursuing his political ambition, would you encourage any of your children to go into politics?

With this situation, I don’t think I would advise any of my children to venture into politics. I don’t think so.

What if they have interest and they are so passionate about it like their father?

That would be based on their own personal decision. But if they want my advice, I would tell them not to venture into anything called politics.

 

PHOTONEWS: Dolapo Osinbajo Attends Osun Officials’ Wives Association Conference

Wife of Nigeria’s Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo on Tuesday attended the 1st edition of the Osun Officials’ Wives Association National Conference in Osogbo, capital of the State of Osun.

She was joined at the ceremony by Governor, State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, his wife and host, Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola, Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi and his wife, Florence, Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Mrs Feyisetan Fayose, Hon Ayo Omidiran among others.

The event is taking place at the Aurora Conference Center in Osogbo.

Photos Credit: Dolapo Julius

Our 8 Years Would Be Memorable For Hygienic Culture – Osun First Lady

By Kehinde Ayantunji

The Wife of the Governor, State of Osun, Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola said that her husband’s eight years as governor would be memorable for unprecedented women and children development initiatives and promotion of sustainable hygienic culture across the state.

Mrs. Aregbesola said that various initiatives through her foundation, Sheri Care Foundation (SCARF) has minimised the spread of diseases and promoted healthy living in the state especially in rural areas.

According to her, through regular environmental sanitation in the state and public enlightenments pioneered by SCARF, clean and hygienic environment has become a dominant culture among the larger populace in the state.

She said: “Hygienic culture would be one of the enduring legacies of the present administration, people have seen the benefits personally and collectively and to sustain the legacies, our advocacy target groups were mainly young children and nursing mothers to prevent cholera, typhoid, malaria fever and other diseases that are life threatening”.

“Women are important in this campaign because they are custodian of our home and children, by our culture they are responsible for domestic issues and family consumptions and glory be to God, in the last seven years, our advocacy has positively influenced their attitude and I can boldly say that an average mother in Osun understands what hygiene means to his family and the society”.

She explained further that SCARF has equally reduced the prevailing trend of Female Genital Mutilations (FGM) in the state which was adjudged to be the highest in Nigeria and further urged the people of the state to abstain from such practices which she described as barbaric and abuse.

The first lady then urged parents to prioritise the education of their children and stop all forms of abuse that may endanger the future of their children and have them relegated to second fiddle in the society.

Mrs. Aregbesola then promised to continue the advocacy for child education and protection after her husband might have left office in November 27 this year.

Our 8 Years Would Be Memorable For Hygienic Culture – Osun First Lady

The Wife of the Governor State of Osun Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola said on Monday that his husband 8 Years as governor would be memorable for unprecedented women and children development initiatives and promotion of sustainable  hygienic culture across the state.

Mrs Aregbesola said various initiatives through her foundation, Sheri Care Foundation (SCARF) has minimised the spread of diseases and promote healthy living in the state especially in rural areas.

The first lady said this at the State  General Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo, the State Capital  while presenting the gift to the first baby of the year born to the family of Mr Abiodun Okewumi.

The baby girl was born at exactly 2:18 am and weighed 3.5 Kilograms.

According to her, through regular environmental sanitation in the state and public enlightenment pioneered by SCARF clean and hygienic environment has become dominant culture among the larger populace in the state.

She said “Hygienic culture would be one of the enduring legacy of the present administration, people have seen the benefits personally and collectively and to sustain the legacy our advocacy target group were mainly young children and nursing mothers to prevent cholera, typhoid, malarial and other disease that are life threaten”.

” Women are important in this campaign because they are custodian of our home and children, by our culture they responsible for domestic issues and family  consumptions and glory be to God, in the last seven years, our advocacy has positively influenced their attitude and I can boldly say that an average mother in Osun understands what hygiene means to his family and the society”.

She explained further that SCARF has equally reduced the prevailing trend of Female Genital Mutilations (FGM) in the state which was adjudged to be the highest in Nigeria and further urged the people of the state to abstain from such practices which she described as barbaric and abuse.

The first lady urged the parent to prioritise the education of their children and stop all forms of abuse that may endanger the future of the children and relegate them to the second fiddle in the society.

Mrs Aregbesola who is performing the ceremony for the last time as the wife of the promised to continue the advocacy for child education and  protection after her husband leave office in November 27 this year.

The father of the baby of the year Mr Okewumi Abiodun appreciated Mrs Aregbesola  saying the visit and presentation of gift by the first lady would continue to be memorable in the life of their family.

Mrs Aregbesola also visited second baby born at exactly 6.45 am by Mrs Albert Folayemi and presented gift to the family.

 

Governor’s Wife Promises To Ensure Better Living For Children

The Office of the First Lady, State of Osun, Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola will ensure that lots of work and policies are put in place in ensuring a better and healthy environment for the growth and development of children in the state.

The wife of the Governor State of Osun, Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola made this known at the 2017 End of the year Children’s party held at the Government House Grounds in the state capital.

At the celebration filled with children of the state, Mrs. Aregbesola emphasized that, there has been improvement in the lives of the people and the environment as well as greater enhancement in the health delivery systems in the state.

She used the medium to thank mothers in the state for their marvelous support of her husband, the Governor State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

Simultaneously, she appreciated her husband, Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola for his compassion on women and children in the state, hence making policies in their favour.

To the children, Mrs. Aregbesola urged them to continue to improve on their education, quoting that, the world belongs to those who are educated.

The Governors wife finally encouraged all to nurture the children to become better citizens and to collaborate in fighting child abuse, violence against children, trafficking, and female genital mutilation.

Aregbesola’s Wife Undescores Role of Women In Nation Building

Women have been described as pillars of every home and solution to all problems confronting the home.

Wife of the Governor, State of Osun Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola stated this in Ibadan, capital city of Oyo State during the 2017 National Women’s Summit organised by Oyo State Officials Wives Association (OYSOWA) held at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.

Mrs Aregbesola who led other delegates from Osun to the National Women’s summit also included the wife of the Chief of Staff, Mrs Kafayat Oyetola, wife of Osun Speaker, Mrs Adebimpe Salam, wife of the
Head of Service, Barrister Kikelomo Oyebade and Commissioner for Women, Children and Social Affairs, Alhaja Latifat Giwa among others, reiterated that women were deliberately created by God to be liberated
but not as rival to men in the society.

The National Women Submit whose theme was “The Resilient Woman, Making a Difference” also had wives of some Governors across Nigeria such as Ogun, Lagos, Edo, Delta Nasarawa, Yobe , Enugu and Zamafara States
among others in attendance.

Women who are the main participants at the programme all agreed that, all hands must be on deck to ensure that, women are properly educated, guarded and hardworking to avoid negativity in the society
and also be a good example of women of integrity in society.

Highlights of the 2017 National Women Summit were the presentation of awards of excellence to some virtuous women and Outstanding Academic Award performance to Miss Olatunji Ayomide, the overall pupil of I.D.C Primary School, Awotan, Ido Local Government Area of Ibadan who scored a total 93% out of 117,145 pupils who sat for 2017 Oyo State Primary Schools screening test and different gift items including cars were also given to participants through raffle draw.

Aregbesola’s Wife Urges Nigerian Women To End Female Genital Mutilation

The wife of the State Governor of Osun, Mrs. Sherifat Aregbesola has urged women in Nigeria to put an end to the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation in the country.

She also called on all and sundry to join hands to take the campaign against the act to various communities, churches, mosques and offices in Nigeria.

Mrs. Aregbesola stated this in Lagos State during the 2017 National Women’s Conference held at Eko Hotel and Suite, Lagos.

The wife of the Governor stressed that, the act of female genital mutilation is an evil act in the society that causes havoc to the lives of our women in the society.

She added that, more efforts must be put in place for more public enlightenment to educate people who are still unaware about the effect of female circumcision on a-girl-child and women at large in Nigeria.

Earlier in her address of welcome, the wife of Lagos State Governor who also doubles as the Chairperson of the 2017 National Women’s Conference, Mrs. Ambode said that, women are uniquely created by God, endowed with skills, take care of the family and impact positively on their immediate environment.

Dignitaries who attended the 2017 National Women Conference from the State of Osun include wife of the State of Osun Chief of Staff, Alhaja Kafayat Oyetola and the Commissioner for Women Affairs in Osun, Alhaja Latifat Giwa among others.

Group Felicitates With Osun First Lady on Her Birthday

A Socio-political organisation in Osun, Iwo Youth Congress (IYC) has congratulated Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola, the First Lady of the State of Osun on her birthday celebration.

In a statement signed by the group’s coordinator, Mr. Liadi Ishola on Tuesday, said the organisation joined Aregbesola family, friends and people of Osun in celebrating a virtuous woman whose support to His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has brought about infrastructural transformation of the state.

He said; ”We are particularly happy with the life of service you have led so far,” noting that as the Chairperson of ‘Sheri Care Foundation (SCARF),’ the governor’s wife has been making life easier for aged, children, widows and the weaker members of the society.”

The group urged the First Lady to continue in her invaluable support to her husband, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as he continues to transform the state of Osun.

He prayed that the Almighty God will grant Alhaja Aregbesola longer life, good health and more strength to celebrate more fruitful years.

 

NAWEF Empowers Osun Women

By Sola Jacobs

The National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) Scheme under the Federal Women Affairs and Social development has empowered more than 200 women in the state of Osun through soft loan acquisition and a day training programme on financial literacy and loan management.

Speaking at a day capacity building training for the beneficiaries of the scheme, the Wife of the governor of the State, Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola said that women development is the cardinal point of the current administration in the state considering the contribution women to the socio-economic development of the nation.

Mrs Aregbesola added that the government of Aregbesola in the state had empowered women more in the history of the state.

She urged the beneficiaries to use the loan judiciously for the purpose of contributing to the economic growth of the state, as well repay promptly for others to benefit from the good gesture of the federal government.

In her contribution at the programme, the Commissioner of Women and Children Affairs, Alhaja Latifat Giwa said, the 200 authenticated beneficiaries selected for NAWEF loans targeted women in Osun for empowerment and economic viability, while capacity building training for the first batch of the beneficiaries was to train them on financial literacy and loan management.

Osun First Baby: Governor’s Wife Advocates Exclusive Breastfeeding

The Wife of the Osun state Governor, Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola, wants nursing mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children to ensure proper growth and healthy living.

The first lady gave the advice on Sunday during her visit to the state government’s hospital board in Osogbo, the state’s capital to welcome the First Baby of the Year.

While congratulating the parent of the baby, Mrs Aregbesola, who was represented by the wife of the Chairman Osun State Investment Company Limited, Dr Shekinat Oyebamiji, urged the new mother and other mothers to immunise their children against polio.

” ‎Our mother, her excellency, has instructed me to admonish our women on the very importance and advantages of breast milk to children. What we call exclusive breastfeeding is giving the children breast milk only without water or supplement.

“The breast milk is natural, it is available and cheap. All the woman needs to do is to feed well and than the milk flows. When a child is breastfed, the baby has all the required nutrients that the baby needs to grow well and thrive and babies who are breastfed research has shown has a better IQ than babies who were not,” she explained.

‎“Another thing our mother said I should be sure to pass across is the importance of immunisations. This vaccines are readily available in all the health centres across Osun State at little or no cost. This makes children to be strong. It prevents some childhood diseases which can kill children before the age of five, so women should avail themselves and their children of this opportunity,” she stated.

On the issue of family planning, Mrs Oyebamiji pointed out that for a woman to be glowing and have the energy to take care of her home, her children must be spaced.

“A woman cannot be having children every year and expect to be healthy. So, we should in conjunction with our husbands plan our families. One can have children maybe once in three years, or two but having a child every year is detrimental to the woman’s health and family planning methods are readily available at little or no cost in all the health facilities across the state.

“I also want to say the parents should learn to take care of their wards be‎cause we believe that our children are our future. The state government has laid a solid foundation for education in this state, so we should leverage on this and train our children properly. It is actually for our future,” she appealed to the mothers.

The representative of the Governor’s wife further urged mothers to access family planning services at the primary health centres for adequate child-spacing and survival, to reduce infant mortality.

The baby of the year is a female child delivered at 12″01 a.m. to the family of Kajogbola Sunkanmi through normal delivery at the Government Hospital Board, Asubiaro. She weighed 3.15kg at birth.

Gifts were also presented to other mothers and their babies at the hospital.

Mrs Aregbesola Commended For Standing Against Female Circumsision

An NGO, Girl-child Right Awareness Initiative in Africa, has commended the wife of the governor of Osun, Mrs Sherifat Aregbesola, for her recent advocacy against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the state.
Its Managing Director, Mrs Olayinka Ajibola–Ojomo, gave the commendation on Thursday in Osogbo.
Ajibola-Ojomo said that the advocacy would awake the consciousness of parents in the state.
It would also serve as an eye-opener for them to see the danger embedded in cutting part of the genital composition of young girls, she said.
She said that Aregbesola’s intervention was apt following the recent statement issued by the UNICEF on the state’s status regarding the issue.
Ajiboala-Ojomo said that the world had declared Osun as the first state among the three states of the federation with a worrisome prevalence of female genital mutilation that required urgent attention.
According to her, the act of mutilation is being done in ignorance, with the misconception of guiding against abnormal libido, which could stimulate a female to be wayward and promiscuous.
She maintained that such misconception should be eroded in the minds of the people through constant and comprehensive advocacy like the one Aregbesola started in Osun.
“We commend Mrs Aregbesola for the bold step taking so far to nip the menace of female genital mutilation in the bud, and protect the girl-child from dangerous traditional practices that are inimical to the healthy growth of a child.
“The intervention of the first lady was timely and laudable, considering the level of that practice in Osun, with the prevalence level of 74 per cent according to UNICEF.
“She has shown to us by this action that she is a passionate mother and caring leader, the attribute we are expecting wives of other state executives to display,” Ajibola-Ojomo said.
She also appealed to traditional rulers to complement the efforts of the government and other non-state actors in their quest to end female genital mutilation in the country.