By Olatunde Bello-Ishola
The offer is mouth-watering and irresistible. And it is in plain sight: no ambiguity or sophistry. Aside from his accretion of qualities, the practical and well-thought-out promises to salvage the state from the doldrums with the ‘SIMPLE Agenda’, there is so much more why Edo people are eager to vote for Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the September 19th gubernatorial election.
Don’t blame them. Who doesn’t like good things especially, when they are literally free? With Ize-Iyamu as governor, the state would also have his wife, Professor Idia Ize-Iyamu, an equally competent, cerebral and conscientious woman, as First Lady. Theirs is a pairing made in heaven and consecrated here on earth for the betterment of Edo people.
For the past two decades, Professor Idia, a consultant orthodontist at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, had served as the unsullied force of hope and energy behind her lawyer-husband as he navigated through a successful private legal career and an illustrious public service.
Now that he aspires to be governor of their beloved state, there is no scintilla of doubt that she would enhance and encourage his patriotic, heartfelt efforts and imbue him with the verve and value necessary to accelerate his wholesome and widespread growth plans for Edo State.
The job of a governor requires domestic felicity, an impartial omnipresent sounding board and informed adviser – someone to keep him grounded and focused on his campaign promises – a spouse that would have extraordinary resilience and grace under pressure. They don’t come better prepared and positioned than Professor Idia.
Here is a woman, who has expertly negotiated her way through life, charting her own course, blazing new trails while building a thriving career in both public and private services, which she has also balanced with sterling family life, more so as a doting wife and mother.
A 1992 graduate of the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, she worked with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital from 1992 to 1993 and did her National Youth Service Corp, NYSC, at the Military Hospital, Bonny Camp, Lagos, from 1993 to 1994. She also had a brief stint at the Smile Well Dental Clinic between 1994 and 1995.
But the allure of the academics was so strong that she moved back to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) as a lecturer in 1997 and has served in various capacities in the institution. She became an Associate Professor of Orthodontics in 2014 and is a Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons.
She also attended the Oxford University United Kingdom on a Commonwealth Medical Fellowship in 2016. Prof. Idia is also the Pastor-in-charge of Teenage Church at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Trinity Sanctuary, Region 13, Headquarters Parish.
So, Prof Idia, an inspirational, yet, unobtrusive, supportive, albeit stern professional and human, when it comes to the wellbeing of the people, will not just be an appendage of government, she would add value as an academic, a mother, an indigene and a medical practitioner.
Noteworthy is that her riveting message – that the improved lives of women and girls in the state and the world at large will lead to stronger and safer economies – is proving to be transformational and catching up with the women and youth demographics.
Recently, she told a gathering that women and children were the first victims of misgovernance. As such, she disclosed that there is a plan to train and empower Edo State women, provide infrastructure, and create gainful employment opportunities for the youths while noting that it was the fundamental duty of a responsible government to identify itself with the hopes and aspirations of the people.
Referencing her husband’s ‘SIMPLE Agenda’, she stated that with the population of 3.2million people and a landmass of 18,000 square kilometres, Edo State is bigger by land size and population than many countries. Yet, she lamented that the state does not have an institutionalised social welfare system to cater to the needs of its people.
As a corrective measure, she promised that, “Every resident of Edo State will be allotted a personalised lifetime Social Security Number. Every child born here will also have a dedicated Social Security Number. With this, his government can track the need for assistance amongst our women, children, disabled, the elderly and vulnerable members of that society.”
She further explained that the innovative system contained in the ‘SIMPLE Agenda’ would also assist the authorities to track the number of children going to school and those joining the labour market. And that each of the 192 wards in Edo State will have a social welfare officer and a team assigned to it while reporting to a coordinating office at the senatorial level that reports to the central database at the headquarters.
“The Social welfare offices will be empowered by law to adjudicate on matrimonial problems and help resolve them through family counselling and mediation services,” she added.
The renowned academic believes that the scope and the significance of her husband’s ‘SIMPLE Agenda’ far exceeds social media-ready sound bites and, therefore, is also rallying professionals and religious bodies among others towards the elections.
Conversely, some health professionals – her constituency – under the auspices of Better Health for Edo have endorsed Pastor Ize-Iyamu for having a detailed and realistic manifesto on how to provide quality and affordable health care for all.
In a meeting with Professor Idia, the medical group announced its formation of ‘POI Health’ support group, which includes members of subsectors in the health profession charged with the mandate to conduct health awareness campaigns at strategic points in Edo to sell the POI health agenda to other professionals and the public.
She thanked the body for its support and assured it of her husband’s commitment to the health sector, including addressing the poor doctor to patient ratio and lack of infrastructure.
“As a health professional, with years of practice in the state, I’m familiar with the issues you have raised. In Edo, today, we have less than 200 doctors in the 18 local governments to serve 3.5 million people. This has caused a poor ratio of one doctor to 17,500 people.
“The only good hospital we had as a state hospital, the Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin, which catered for a large number of diverse medical, surgical and gynaecological issues, was stripped of the state-of-the-art facilities and turned to a COVID-19 centre.
“If you go to the Central Hospital, Benin, owned by the state government, there is no roof at the male medical ward. The dialysis centre is no more functional. The stench from the heap of faeces there is suffocating,” she noted with promising of a better future.
She concluded that in the ‘SIMPLE Agenda’ is contained, a detailed and workable plan for doctors and solutions that would help to provide an enabling environment and build infrastructure that would generate employment and give the people a better life and livelihood.
Without doubts, it suffices to say that, behind the steely, serious, business-like, compassionate, trustworthy and promising mandate that the Ize-Iyamu candidacy represents is a sound and solid professor, who is coming all out to give her husband’s governorship bid the best possible push and support, both at home and in the public.
*Bello-Ishola works and lives in Lagos