Vanessa Obioha writes that Senator Oluremi Tinubu on her own steam has recorded landmark achievements, which recommend her beyond being the wife of a popular politician and an emerging statesman
When Senator Oluremi Tinubu emerged unopposed at the APC Senatorial primary to represent Lagos Central for the third time, there were susurrations in some quarters that her husband, the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu was behind her emergence. It was believed that the larger-than-life status of Tinubu made other interested participants shelve their political ambition.
It was not the first time such news were making the rounds. Ever since her first election into the Senate in 2011, four years after her husband left his gubernatorial post, diatribes have trailed the senator’s political sojourn. Partly because her first victory was riddled with controversy as a result of the omission of the logos of the Labour Party and Congress for Progressive Change, a foul play perceived by the parties candidate to discredit them from winning the Lagos Central Senatorial seats.
Albeit, Tinubu was declared the winner and has returned to the Upper House twice, and may return a third time if she retains her seat. If that permutation works, the Senator will be the first from Lagos state to achieve that status.
To the layman, Tinubu’s streak of success is an abuse of power. ‘Why?’ They ask in their beer parlours, news stands, :should she return for the third time? Are there no better politicians in the party to represent Lagos central?’ Of course there are, but who can challenge the gods?
Senator Tinubu is not ignorant of the antagonistic remarks. If anything, she has developed a tough skin, though often times her quiet demeanour is misconstrued as weakness.
Being among the few women in the National Assembly comes with its own challenges. Her special status as wife of Jagaban has not spared her from the uncouth behaviour of most members of the senate. A notable incidence was that of the Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye. A rambunctious fellow, Dino was reported to have insulted and threatened Tinubu when she objected to one of his motions during a closed door session. For weeks, the ugly scenario hugged the headlines as women across the country rallied for support and called for the removal of Melaye.
Though the two have sheath their swords since the 2016 brawl, no love is lost between the senators.
Tinubu would later received another backlash when she introduced the bill for Special Economic Assistance to Lagos as a mega city and economic hub of West Africa.She was barked down by her male colleagues who misinterpreted her proposal as a Special Status for the economic hub of the country. She described the experience as horrifying and almost wasn’t going to raise the motion again.
Recalling that incident at a recent press briefing, she explained what really happened.
“When I introduced the Special Economic Assistance, my colleagues twisted it and took it out of context. Special Economic Assistance came from the fact that we felt Lagos state gives a lot to the federal government through taxes and VAT. So Special Economic Assistance is requesting that even if it is one percent of the money that is taken into the federation account from Lagos state to be given back to Lagos state. We are talking about Apapa gridlock, a lot of infrastructural damage that we are experiencing in the state. These monies are supposed to be used to augment most of the projects in the state, be it the health sector, education, or roads and that is what we are asking for. And that money, the percentage will be decided by the National Assembly, and then the state assembly will now enforce the appropriation for state use. It is not money that is just coming in for the governors to use at will. But my colleagues took it out of context, maybe because of the mood of the senate. I have never seen such hatred for a bill before in my life. It brought about a very heated argument in the senate. And when I started talking to them individually,they were even telling me to bring it back but I said no,that someone else can take it up because since 2011, I have been advocating for it. I don’t think there is nothing in life that I have done and shown such animosity. Lagos still needs it. I’m going to push for it.”
Her eight years so far in the senate has not gone down without some achievement. She was responsible for the Motion on the Apapa Port Gridlock, Stop Violence Against Children among others. Through her quarterly town hall meetings — a feedback mechanism to ensure accountability and transparency — she has been able to interact more effectively with her constituents, empowering them through initiatives such as the Widows Economic Empowerment Scheme (WEES), Petty Traders Empowerment Capital Scheme (PETECS), Good Boys and Girls Empowerment Scheme (GBGES) to mention a few.
As she kicks off her campaign, Tinubu is pledging to do more, to represent her district through new initiatives such as the Work Experience Programme (WEP). Paramount on her mind is to continue to push for gender equity and equal opportunities. Already, she’s been training young girls and women for leadership roles through the Leadership Academy for Girls and Daughters of Zelophehad Ministry.
Recently ordained a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, the Senator is leaning on her Christian moral values to carry out her duty, even if many find it hard to believe that a politician can be a faithful Christian. Her mantra ia to change one life at a time.
Should the senator fail in her third bid, she will dedicate herself to her humanitarian services and probably will be availed enough time to take care of the Jagaban.