Idowu Sowunmi pays tribute to the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, who is 50 today
Her willpower and focus to bring out the best wherever she finds herself has tenaciously distinguished her from the rest. She pays attention to details with a primal vision of setting new standards and raising the bar in her humanitarian quests to uplift mankind. She devotes a considerable part of her time, energy and resources on a regular basis in advancing the cause of the less privileged and championing initiatives that support the needy in our society. Her dream is aimed at empowering and uplifting the disadvantaged people regardless of their age, education status, religious and political affiliations.
Welcome to the world of Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, the Wife of the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
Born some 50 years ago on May 2, Mrs. Amosun is today joining the elegant circle of Golden Jubilee Club. No doubt, 50 is a milestone and clocking the golden age calls for a celebration of some sort. To celebrate this remarkable woman of virtues, I have decided to put this piece together to showcase the natural values many don’t really know about her.
Working with Mrs. Amosun since January 2012 as one of her close aides has given me the vista of opportunities to know her better and appreciate her genuine passion to assist, support and empower the less privileged and the needy in our society.
Beyond her care for the good people of Ogun State, Mrs. Amosun has become a mother figure to many in the government circle in the state, touching their lives with so much compassion outside their official duties.
Personally, I was somewhat agitated and disturbed over a domestic matter and I couldn’t sleep sometime in February 2013. In my state of restlessness, I picked up my Blackberry phone around 2am and began to fiddle with it: played music, changed my BB Display Picture amongst others. Suddenly Mrs. Amosun sent a message to my phone, asking why I was not sleeping at this time of the day. I was shocked to my marrow. I responded by saying I was trying to get some things sorted out. Dissatisfied, she probed me further: are you sure? And I said yes. I didn’t really want to bother her about my personal challenge.
Another touchy encounter I had with Mrs. Amosun was on May 30, 2013. I got a call from Lagos that my wife was in labour and had just been rushed to the hospital. I asked the caller about the condition of my wife but he was not audible enough. I called my wife severally, no response. I called my mother-in-law, no answer. I became worried. I stayed glued to my phone moving from one section to another to check who else I could call. I stumbled on the number of our family doctor; called him but he didn’t pick too. My worries increased. So I resigned to fate, hoping for the best.
I went to my DP and I wrote: “It’s Well – I Believe, It Will End in Praise.” Immediately, the governor’s wife asked me: “What’s the problem?” Of course, I had no option than to open up that my wife was in labour. She offered some prayers and encouraged me to be calm. About one hour after, I received a call that my wife had just been delivered of a bouncing baby girl and that my wife and the baby were in good condition. With so much elation, I sent message to the governor’s wife that my family had just been populated with another baby girl. She congratulated me and sent message to my wife.
My takeaway: as a caring mother, Mrs. Amosun often feels strongly concerned about the welfare of people around her and she has successfully extended similar gesture to the good people of Ogun State.
Mrs. Amosun’s compassion to help others is second to none. I was at a loss momentarily, the very first day the governor’s wife said she would be climbing the Mountain Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for the sole aim of raising funds for the victims of the insurgency in the North-east, who are scattered across the various Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Nigeria. While I was still struggling to come to terms with her decisions, it dawned on me that indeed Mrs. Amosun has a strong-willed empathy and the spirit to always support the less privileged.
No wonder, Mrs. Amosun has been using every opportunity to call on the individuals, the corporate bodies and any other interested parties to join her in lending a helping hand to the less privileged. This, she often expresses with a Yoruba song: Eni k’eni ti iwo ba ni ipa l’ati se iranlowo fun ooo, Oun na l’eni keji re, Toju re. This can be literarily translated thus: Endeavour to help the needy you can afford to assist, for such person is your brother or sister.
Her ‘communal spirit’ of lending a helping hand to the less privileged made Mrs. Amosun to initiate different programmes to massively complement the efforts of her husband, Senator Amosun in the governor’s overall Mission to Rebuild Ogun State.
Through her foundation, UPLIFT Development Foundation, the governor’s wife has been focusing on poverty alleviation, using UPLIFT as an acronym for ‘Understanding People’s Limiting and Inhibiting Factors Today.’ The foundation provides intervening programmes to empower the vulnerable and the needy, with basic facilities to achieve the ultimate goal of making them self-sufficient.
The UPLIFT vision centres on poverty alleviation through the provision of economic empowerment, skill acquisition programmes and access marketable items and loans. Her target groups include the physically challenged, those living with HIV/AIDS, vulnerable aged, unemployed graduates, vulnerable orphans and disadvantaged women and children in general.
Some of her programmes include: UPLIFTing the Aged; Free Eye Camp; UPLIFTing Women; UPLIFTing Widows; UPLIFTing Unemployed Graduates; Uplift Cancer Awareness Campaign; UPLIFTing the Physically Challenged; UPLIFTing SS3 Students; UPLIFTing Youths through Beatification; UPLIFTing Traders; UPLIFTing the Environment International Conference and Workshop; UPLIFT Aged Welfare Card; UPLIFT Food Outreach; Launch of Green Education for the Youths, Waste to Wealth Initiative; UPLIFT Under-15 Grassroots Football Camp; MITROS Micro Credit Scheme; and De-worming Exercise for School Children.
Others are UPLIFTing Women Living with HIV/AIDS; UPLIFT Artificial Limb Camp; UPLIFT Safe Motherhood Initiative; UPLIFTing Rainstorm Victims; UPLIFTing Rural Dwellers; UPLIFTing Orphans and Vulnerable Children; Community Empowerment Programme; 1st National Green Essay Competition; 1st Ogun State National Women Conference in 2014; UPLIFTing Schools; Free Breast Lump Excision Surgery and Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for IDPs amongst others.
Mrs. Amosun has built a strong tie with the vulnerable citizens across the length and breadth of Ogun State through her various initiatives. She has undeniably touched many lives through her UPLIFT Development Foundation.
The stark reality today is that Mrs. Amosun is 50 and to this I say, Congratulations and Happy Birthday. But the ladyish and glowing look of Mrs. Amosun can make anyone demand for a recount to determine if she is actually 50.
Happy 50th birthday to a mother, mentor and confidant!
–Sowunmi is media aide to the wife of the Governor of Ogun State