Thursday, 8th June 2023

‘Good leadership does not reside in any gender or tribe’

By Eniola Daniel
19 February 2022   |   2:42 am
A lawyer and founder of Project One, Bisayo Busari-Akinnadeju has played an impactful role in prison decongestion by providing legal aid to indigent persons who couldn’t afford

A lawyer and founder of Project One, Bisayo Busari-Akinnadeju has played an impactful role in prison decongestion by providing legal aid to indigent persons who couldn’t afford the services of a legal practitioner. She sat on the board of many corporate bodies in Nigeria, Ghana and Sao Tome as company secretary and legal adviser.

Bisayo Busari-Akinnadeju

In 2017, she hosted the Nigeria flag designer, PA Taiwo Akinkumi and placed him on a 12-month stipend in appreciation of his contribution to the national symbol amidst other notable contributions. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK and Nigeria, Bisayo was nominated as one of the 100 most influential young Nigerians in 2018 and 2019, respectively. She also authored a book, Project One Nigeria, which aims to change the orientation of Nigerians and encourage them to see the country from a positive perspective.

IN this interview with ENIOLA DANIEL, she spoke on Project One initiative, and why Nigerian women should take the front seat and lead.

What is the idea behind setting up Project One Productions?
PROJECT One is an organisation set up to promote pride in national identity through its #IAMANIGERIAN Campaign, as well as instill the right leadership values in Nigerians. These values are required for national development through political education, self-reliance programmes, empowerment and citizenship appreciation projects.

Project One uses a bottom-up approach by starting from the cradle, clothing babies in the #iamanigerian clothes from the wardroom, which helps to increase their sense of belonging; forming government-approved leadership clubs in schools; organising activities for youths that promote patriotism and integrity, as well as holding a yearly conference, which bridges the gap between the past, present and future leaders of the nation.

Project One boasts of instituting an appreciation system whereby past contributors to national symbols are celebrated, like the national flag designer, the national anthem composer, etc.
Talking about leadership, 2023 is around the corner, how prepared are women for the forthcoming election?

The 2023 election is right here, and women must continue to increase their involvement and participation in the political leadership of our nation. My slogan on this is that every nation needs a mother, and every woman is a mother of nations.

There have been agitations to increase the number of women participating in governance. However, we have fewer women putting their feet forward for political offices than men. I believe this narrative can be changed. The Nigeria nation now has lots of cries that women can decisively work together to stop. Do not forget that women play very influential roles even at home front. Such attributes must be brought forward to the larger society; values, vision and valiant acts must be embraced.

Do you think Nigeria is ready for a woman presidency, especially when many states have not complied with the 35 per cent affirmative action?
The answer to the readiness of the nation will be confirmed at the polls with competent women putting themselves forward to be elected. The 35 per cent affirmative action is also a work in progress, and I opine that more women will attain more positions of leadership in the 2023 election, as well as going forward in Nigeria.
Some are of the opinion that the Nigerian political system as it is now, makes it difficult for women to vie for elective positions. What’s your take on this?
The political system has not debarred women from vying for elective positions; there are no legal barricades against women. What we have experienced over the years had been more of societal inclination, which is not peculiar to Nigeria.

Africa had its first female president in Sirleaf Ellen Johnson of Liberia. Prior to that time, it looked impossible. Many nations of the world are also just clicking their first. The United States of America is yet to have one, but fortunately, the States has produced a female Vice President. The people work through the system, so I believe that with more awareness, more women will vie for elective positions.

Why are women still taking the backseat when it comes to leadership positions in Nigeria?
Women taking backseat is not a Nigerian phenomenon; it’s all over the world. Some countries are, however, ahead of us, and Nigerian women must bring to the fore their capabilities and readiness. The political terrain in our part of the world had been rumoured to be a dirty and corrupt path. It is trite that women are elegant and do not want to be in the muddled water, but history shows that women play important role in delivering Nigeria independence.

Women have been playing influential roles in politics from day one of its existence. No politician will aim at winning without consulting the women and women leaders. However, it is high time women moved to the forefront of affairs, especially with the current state of the nation. We surely need to do something different.

What should Nigerian women look out for before voting any candidate in the forthcoming election?
Women and every voter should lookout for the best candidate; religious and ethnic sentiments should not take the forefront. When we win in life at games such as football, swimming, basketball, we all stay united. When it comes to choosing leaders in Nigeria, we must stay united in focus as well.

The focus is growth and development. The goal is peace, security and justice, a better life for everyone. Candidates who can deliver on these goals are desirable. No one should cast votes based on immediate gratification; we must choose whom we consider best suited to take us to the next and better level in Nigeria without emotions.

You wrote a book on Osinbajo in 2016, which is yet to be published. What informed the project? Is that an endorsement of his capacity to lead the country?
The Osinbajo book written in 2016 is yet to be published and of course, cannot be described as an endorsement. The book focuses on the strengths of deputies, assistants and especially Vice-presidential personalities. In my review, Osinbajo as at the time of writing the book, put forward many enviable characteristics, which shows great skills in leadership.

If I were to write another book on Osinbajo in 2022, I will be emphasising on his other good traits and not that of being a deputy, which was the focus of the book, A Vice President with a Difference: Yemi Osinbajo.

You once said you will contest to be Nigeria’s president come 2027, how are you working towards actualising that dream?
The common saying is that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. I have been working towards this ambition from the moment I embraced the possibility. I do not underrate the place of proper preparation and that is why I am not contesting in 2023.

My vision of becoming the first female president of Nigeria in 2027 is a calculated one that puts the people at the centre of my goal. I am established at the grassroots, I am working with current leaders, I am shaping mindsets in preparation for my campaign, I am instilling values appropriate for national development in the citizens, because I will run a government of the people by the people and for the people; true democracy suited for Africans will be the focus. I do not see myself starting on the day of my inauguration as the president in 2027; I have started working right from where I am to where I want to be.

As a woman, what’s the best way to manage the home and politics?
Women are naturally multi-tasking and have been at the forefront of home for years, as well as handling their trade with dexterity; a woman can create balance easily. On a lighter note, I would say a woman balances the relationship between her children and her husband and manages to keep the home front running. As such, a woman will equally not have problems balancing the home front and political office. Everyone and everything has its place. Just as the men had balanced the home front and political offices in the past, I believe women will do better.

What are the chances of a woman being elected as President of Nigeria?
The chances are higher than that of 2019. The chances are the same as that of a man contesting for the same position.

Do you think a woman can do better, if elected president of the country?
Good leadership does not reside in any gender, age grade or tribe. It’s all about responsibilities and readiness to chart a good course for the nation.

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