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Leadership has no gender, says Awoniyi

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Adebisi Yewande Awoniyi, first daughter of late Arewa Consultative Forum Chairman (ACF), Chief Sunday Awoniyi, speaks on selfless service and quality political representation in this interview with RALPH OMOLOLU AGBANA.

Some women activists in Okunland think that the political environment is biased against the female gender. They advocate that men should allocate top political positions to women. What is your view on this?

In this part of the country, men are in the forefront. But I have always said hard work has no gender, just like success. I tend to look at people as individuals. I don’t look at gender.

I consider the mental abilities. Everybody is born with the ability to succeed, but it depends on how each one applies that ability. I don’t think gender comes into it at all.

Maybe I am just fortunate, in view of the fact that there was supposed to be 35 percent woman participation in government. But even without that, I was the first female chief operation officer to ever run an airport in the country.

The aviation industry is strictly a male dominated one and I headed that institution very well.

It was the first private airport under the most successful Public Private Partnership (PPP). The records are there for all to see and I can beat my chest and say I performed better than all the men that ever held that position in the country.

I am also the first female chairman of Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, which is the largest in Lagos State. I won the election and successfully ran that estate. For me, politics runs in the blood. So, being a woman, in all honesty, is even an added advantage. Women are very passionate, when we put our mind into something.

How long have you been in politics?
I have been in politics for as long I have known my dad as a politician. It’s like he knew all of us would eventually get involved in politics. In all he did, he always carried us along. However, I would like to say the way some people go about politics calls for a rethink.

Politics should be about selfless service. If you are a selfless individual, you are in politics. If you want to help the community without personal gains or gratification, you are in politics. My father always said there is no limit to what a man can achieve, as long as he does not care only for himself. That is also my belief.

What motivates your going into the House of Representatives?
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to express certain views, my reasons and passion. I would actually have loved to go to the Senate, but I decided that with the political settings of my area, I should start from the House of Representatives. 

I have always had the passion to return to my roots the opportunity, exposure and experience I garnered from working in a company like Bicourtney Aviation Services. I was able to revive companies that were considered to be dying. 

I believe I have some kind of a Mida’s touch on anything I decide to do. I am not particularly pleased with the welfare, the quality of life I see around my community.

My father made a positive impact on his community and now that he has passed on, we the children should continue from where he left.

Agreed, one is stepping into his big shoes, but with the support of my people, my constituency and my brother, who is also in politics, it is doable. 

Going into politics to take care of our people’s welfare and standard of living is something I have always been passionate about, which is why I am contesting for the House of

Representatives, because I believe I will represent my people very well.

Do you see your background as an advantage?
I would be very ungrateful to my dad’s memory, if I should say the name ‘Awoniyi’ isn’t a plus for me. Everything my dad did is like a launch pad for me.

So, yes, the family background is a big advantage, coupled with the fact that my personal capability and ability are often said to be very much like my dad’s— the way I talk and do things, my passion for things and all that.

Yes, my family name is going to help me a great deal, but that is if people are able to see in me what they saw in my late dad, my individuality, as well as my antecedents and they know that it is something I can do.

Some people think your aspiration is as a result of powerful godfathers in Kogi West…

Yes, I have a godfather, and that is God. Do I have political godfathers? In all honesty, I don’t understand what political godfathers means.

The way I understand it is somebody putting the money there, he plants you and when you get into government, you start doing his bidding and he starts to control you as a puppet.

If that is what political godfather means, I definitely don’t have and I don’t intend having. This is because I want everybody to see me as an individual.

We need to shift away from politics of godfatherism, and to only look at individuals. What does that individual have in him or her for the people he or she is representing? That is the most important thing. You will be surprised that if you have a very good brand, the so-called godfathers will fall into line.

It is because the political terrain in the country has always been dominated by lazy people; those without any vision. So, they need people to service them, but I believe that my antecedent is enough for people to know that I don’t need a godfather. I just want to serve. It is a selfless thing for me.

On which party platform are you running for 2019 election?

I am still consulting widely. I have not decided on any platform yet. In a couple of weeks, after consultations, I should be able to disclose the name of the party.


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