By Oki Samson
Despite the ever-evolving human desires for development and fulfillment, the traditional role of women remains ever constant; providing succour for humanity. No matter her status in the society; Wife, mother, manager or leader, a woman has that staying power and caring heart to cater for others despite her own needs. For this they were created and only in this do they feel fulfilled.
This best explains why the First Lady of Kwara state, Dr. (Mrs.) Olufolake AbdulRazaq, is able to juggle her duties as a wife, mother, diplomat, philanthropist, and most importantly, a first lady of a cultural and religiously diverse state as Kwara, leaving everyone with smiles and hope for better days ahead.Asked how she has been able to juggled her duties Dr. AbdulRazaq disclosed that, “my job compliments my duties as the first lady of Kwara State as it presents the avenue to promote Kwara and draw investments to the state and scholarships to our youths.And rightly so, leveraging on her job as a diplomat, the first lady has been able to fulfill her vision and mission for the state, especially the youths and women, at different fora like the Conference in Atlanta, meeting with the Qatari Ambassador, Qatar Charities, India Nigeria Business Forum among a host of others.No wonder multitasking is traditionally believed to be a woman’s domain.
The last 365 days of the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq-led administration in Kwara state has given Kwarans a glimpse into what leadership in a sane society should be; accountability and empathy. But nobody has better given voice to this than the first lady as she has, within the last 365 days, touched the lives of Kwarans in ways they never thought possible. In her role of complimenting government’s efforts, Dr. AbdulRazaq who is also the founder of Ajike People’s Support Center has impacted positively in the lives of Kwarans in ways only a woman of vision and temerity can.In the last one year, the first lady has been engaged in so many impactful programmes that not only benefits women, children and the youths but the generality of Kwarans. Given her passion for empowerment of youths and women of the state and realizing that the major challenge of women and youths is unemployment, the first lady has through her office trained over 2000 women in different vocational skills through the Ajike people’s support center.
These women and youths cut across political, religious and cultural divides in the state. At these events women were taught vocations such as kampala and Adire, snacks confectionaries, soap, detergent, air freshener making, tailoring, beads and wire works, beauty and makeup etc. But more importantly, the office of the first lady ensured much exposure of the potentials of Kwarans and Kwara to the world.
For an example the Kwara actively participated in the Nigeria-France Business and Investment Forum held in Abuja which was attended by the Executive Governor of kwara State Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and the first lady to foster good relationship to ensure the needed advancement in infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, solid minerals, education, guttering and explore other sectors of importance like finished products such as textiles, artifacts (pottery) and several others in the two states.In sports, Dr. AbdulRazaq’s passionate support for baseball and softball in the state is well attested to by stakeholders and lovers of the game alike.
In the words of the Secretary General of Nigeria Baseball and Softball Federation, Kehinde Laniyan, the first lady’s support for the game has ensured, “increased enthusiasm of the children in the game and also resulted in much growth of the game and the interest of the children in the program.” Also, rather than just paying lip service to the call for youths and women empowerment in the state, the first lady has practically walked the talk by creating huge platforms for young talents in the state to grow and flourish.The African Fashion Week Nigeria, held at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos is one of such examples out of many.
The fashion week which had His Imperial Majesty, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II as the Ambassador and Grand Patron, kicked off on Friday, December 20, 2019 with exhibitions of beautiful Africa designs featured eight Kwara designers with two exhibitors. And in the words of the first lady, “This will enable them to expand their horizon, network and also make new contacts. Fashion is so important; it is part of our culture. We have very creative people in the fashion industry who continues to wow us with their creativity.” Kwara paraded our indigenous Aso Ofi and Adire collections from Fak Fashion, Hajjewel House Of Style, Oluwatoyin, ZF Couture, The Giovani Place, Zoe Asher, Iris Mauve Fashion and The Tailor’s Room.
In education, the first lady in conjunction with her Ajike People’s Support Center has embarked on advocacies, cutting across the 16 local government areas of the state, to ensure that all school age children remain in school. The first lady is also in talks with the United Nations Educational, scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on how to further promote Kwara children’s education and wellbeing. These past months has seen the first lady’s passion for the wellbeing of Kwarans come to play through her involvement in high impact programs even as she is creating plausible alliances with credible partners who prioritize the welfare of Kwarans which is her set goal.
The value and relevance of education to our world is one that cannot be overemphasized, hence Dr. AbdulRazaq’s resolve to always support all government and non-governmental organization’s educational initiatives. With the spate of gender-based abuses and the need to let the young ones know how to protect and conduct themselves, the first lady and WARIF organized a programme for public secondary school students. The programme is designed to train students on protection from abuse and speaking out in the event of an abuse. In a related development, students of Government High School, Ilorin and Government secondary School Share at the instance of the first lady of Kwara State was part of the Ayo Michealson Foundation’s back to school initiative held in Abuja on the 18th of February 2020.
The event presented an avenue for the students to be inspired, creative and focused. Away from encouraging talents, the first lady has not failed in her advocacy for the rights of the girlchild. From healthcare to empowerment, Dr. AbdulRazaq has been passionate about the youths, women and girlchild.
The saying, ‘health is wealth’ rings ever true and it is for this reason and in a bid to join other countries of the world who are free from polio and other childhood diseases, the first lady of Kwara State orally vaccinated infants during the kickoff of the 2019 Maternal and child health week held in July at primary health care center, Tanke, Ilorin, where the first lady enjoined nursing mothers to come out and avail themselves the opportunity the exercise presents.
The appointment of Dr. (Mrs) Olufolake Abdulrazaq as the TB champion in Kwara State by the first lady of Nigeria, Dr. Aisha Buhari has given a boost to the fight and advocacy against the disease. Also, being honoured as the Champion for malaria elimination is an acknowledgement of her sincere commitment to engendering a healthy citizenry in the state. Another cheering news is that, the mayor of Brent, Ernest Ezeajughi has shared his intentions to partner with the office of the first lady to create awareness about sickle cell as it is believed that with broad enlightenment and advocacy the scourge of the disease would be stemmed.
Also, during this period of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the first lady reached out to hospitals, healthcare providers and other stakeholders in the society. As a way of complimenting government’s efforts at curbing the spread of the novel Corona virus, the First Lady donated disinfectants to the two Isolation Centers in the state.
As if that was not enough, she had at different times given stipends and also distributed palliatives to families and homes in the state. On what are her plans for the new Kwara, the first lady, explained that, “We will continue to ensure that our youths are encouraged and supported in their productive endeavours and women empowered to be viable through the Ajike peoples support center’s vocational skills acquisition programmes and continued advocacies on maternal and child health, gender based violence, drug abuse, human trafficking and other sundry issues that affects our society.”
No doubt, with this and many other achievements of the first lady, a greater future awaits youths and women of Kwara nay Kwarans in general.