Lagos State First Lady Rocks 56 Years With Exemplary Service To Humanity

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“This is the kind of leadership we yearn after in Nigeria; a leadership, that harbours a soft spot, for the “wretched of the Earth.” God bless Dr. Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; God bless Lagos State!”

Olatokunbo posted the above in the comment section in response to a post on the official Facebook page of the Office of Lagos State First Lady on May 31, 2022. The said post announced the 3rd edition of the Lagos Exams Support initiated by the First Lady, Dr. (Mrs.) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu to support students, especially in low-cost schools in the state with payment of outstanding fees that may prevent them from writing the Senior Secondary School WAEC examinations.

According to statistics from the Lagos State Ministry of Education, there are over 400 public secondary schools and over 18,000 private secondary schools in the state. Whilst government makes a conscious effort to support students in public schools to write WAEC exams, some students in private schools are denied that opportunity on the basis of the inability of their parents and guardians to pay their school fees.

Being a compassionate woman, the First Lady, who by the grace of God, is celebrating her 56th birthday today, came up with the Lagos Exams Support initiative, to help students who are unable to pay school fees that may prevent them from writing WAEC exams settle such fees.

From 2020 till date, several lives have been touched positively via the project. A breakdown of the statistics from the OFL Exams Support Committee shows that in the first phase in 2020, a total of 48 students benefited as follows – 44 for the Senior Secondary School Examination (SSSCE); and 4 for the Junior Secondary School Examination (JSSCE). In terms of gender, 23 of the students were females, while 25 were males. Also, a further breakdown by the administrative divisions of the state reveals that 30 were from Ikeja, 4 were from Lagos Island, 11 were from Ikorodu, 2 were from Epe, and 1 from Badagry. Furthermore, 40 of the students had their tuition fees fully paid, while 8 were part-payment.

In the second phase in 2021, a total of 82 students benefitted as follows – 81, SSSCE; and 1, JSSCE. 53 were fully paid, while 29 were part-payment. 54 from Ikeja, 7 from Lagos Island, 11 from Ikorodu, 2 from Epe, and 8 from Badagry.

In the third phase in 2022, 177 students benefited as follows – 46 from Ikeja, 7 from Lagos Island, 7 from Ikorodu, 2 from Epe, 15 from Badagry, and 100 from Correctional Centres. The plan is to ensure that more students are accommodated in the next phase from divisions that are yet to benefit as much as others, especially Epe.

Since 2020, I have had the opportunity of writing birthday tributes to celebrate the First Lady and document her inspirational leadership and achievements in office annually and I must say that from January 8, 2022, till date, Dr. Sanwo-Olu has done commendably well in reaching out to diverse people in all spheres of life, and contributing immensely to the growth of Lagos State.

In the period under review, one of the first programs embarked on by the First Lady was the launch of the Social Welfare Integrated Program Initiative (SWIPI) aimed at supporting orphanages, elderly care homes, and others in the areas of addressing their infrastructure, medical, education, nutrition, and training needs.

For the First Lady who is the Grand Patron of SWIPI, the social welfare system is one of the single most important sectors of society that can deliver a marked improvement in the standard of living of the most vulnerable in our society which was the rationale behind the project to consolidate on the amazing objective to embed best practices in social welfare administration in the overall interest of the vulnerable, especially children, the elderly, and mentally challenged individuals. So far, aside from supporting the orphanages and care homes with infrastructure, hundreds of caregivers have been trained by SWIPI as part of measures to improve their capacity, while also aligning them with up-to-date procedures and international best practices.

Besides, in furtherance of the educational support initiative of the First Lady, within the period under review, she donated Industrial Gas Cooker and two Cylinders to the Lagos State Government Technical College (GTC), Ikotun to enhance the teaching of Catering Craft and help students to better grasp the nitty-gritty of the course in the College.

The GTC Ikotun is one of the five Technical Colleges administered by the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB). The support, according to the First Lady, is to enhance technical and vocational education which remains a veritable platform to produce qualified and competently skilled craftsmen and technicians for economic growth and development.

Another key intervention that the First Lady took to a further phenomenal height is the Lagos Boy Child Initiative. After the successful launch of the initiative in 2021, the First Lady organized two major programs in furtherance of the initiative. These are – the residential training for boys and the Seminar for Parents.

The residential training was held from February 17-19, 2022 for a total of 143 boys and 18 chaperons carefully selected from secondary schools, special correctional centres, and orphanage homes across Lagos State.

The inaugural residential training, with the theme: “The 21st Century Boy Child: Creating a Vision for Transformation,” is an essential component of the novel Boy Child Initiative of the Office of the First Lady of Lagos (OFL) designed to bring issues affecting boys to the front burner and proffer workable solutions.

Prior to their camping, the participants were taken on a tour of the Lagos State Agricultural Training Institute, Araga in Epe to stimulate their interest in farming which is an important way to guarantee food security and self-sufficiency in food production, while they thereafter proceeded to the Lagos State Model College, Badore, Ajah for the residential training. The participants had the amazing opportunity of being lectured by professionals on various topics including Security and You, Drug Abuse and Cultism, Counseling and Mental Health, Vocational Education, Media Literacy, Family Values, Civic Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, Career Path Finding, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, and Child Rights, Self-Esteem, Personal Hygiene, and Etiquette, among others.

Other activities include mini-football tournaments, table tennis competitions, basketball, and indoor sports including soccer table games, chess board games, monopoly, scrabble, magic cube, skating, waste ring game, skipping rope games, Ludo, and others, through which winners were rewarded with laptops, I-pads, shoes, bags, clothing materials, and cash reward. The First Lady also seized the opportunity of the workshop to renovate the senior school dormitory, dining hall, and clinic of the Lagos State Model College, Badore, Ajah, while some sporting items were donated to both the senior and junior school of the college including two table tennis boards, new football goal post net and field linings, as well as standard basketball stand.

Flowing from the outcome of the residential training, it became also important to train parents, thus the inaugural Parenting Seminar as part of the Boy Child Initiative was held at Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, with the theme: “Parenting The 21st Century Boy Child: A Pathway To Transformation,” on May 16, 2022. The seminar was specifically held on May 16 regarded as International Boys Day.

Basically, the seminar was aimed at ensuring that parents have an in-depth understanding of the nitty-gritty of effective approaches to the upbringing of the boy child in order to address the social vices such as rape, drug abuse, cultism, bullying, and others.

In all, there were three lectures on the Importance of sex education in birthing a sexual and gender-based violence-free society; mental health issues in children: early signs and preventive measures; and parenting: our civic responsibility and its overall impact on nation-building. There was a panel session on “Parenting the boy child in the 21st century: the journey, challenges, and solutions,” facilitated by subject-matter experts including the Chief Operations Officer of Cece Yara Foundation, Mrs. Bisi Ajayi-Kayode; Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, Dr. Olusegun Ogunnubi; and Founder of International Parent Network, Mrs. Wendy Ologe.

The panel session was moderated by the Founder of Boy Child Transformation Centre, Mrs. Nkiru Oguadinma, while panelists included Hon Justice Jumoke Pedro of the Lagos State High Court; Dr. Dokun Adedeji of the Christ Against Drug Abuse Ministry (CADAM); DCP Fayoade Adegoke of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti; Controller Adewale Adebisi, Controller of Corrections, Nigerian Correctional Service, Lagos State Command; Consultant General Surgeon and Imam, Dr. Sayeid Ahmad; and Mrs. Ologe.

They all harped on the need for parents to give quality time to their children and improve the communication line in the family, while also leading by example to teach boys good values, especially the need to respect the rights of others.

There was a cohort break-out session where participants critically examined the challenges with the upbringing of the boy child, and proffered solutions, while there was a special performance of Ewi (a genre of Yoruba poetry) by secondary school students in the state also emphasizing the need for parents to pay strong attention to the training of the boy child.

In celebrating the Y2022 International Women’s Day, the First Lady participated in a number of activities, including the Conference organized by the Bank of Industry where she emphatically made the point that all hands must be on deck to speak up and rise above stereotypes, discrimination, and bias that limit women from achieving their goals, including Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. She also led a rally of women from different walks of life against the rejection of gender bills by the National Assembly, demanding an immediate passage of the bills. At the rally, the First Lady said it was important for women to remain steadfast and insist that all the political, economic, social, and cultural biases that keep eroding the dreams of women and girls be brought to an end.

Besides, in line with her promise-made and promise-kept mantra, on March 31, 2022, the First Lady presented a 3-bedroom flat at the LagosHoms, Sangotedo to the Star Prize Winner of the 2021 National Women’s Conference (NWC) of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO), Mrs. Kudirat Olasunboh Amisu-Bankole. The winners at the 2022 COWLSO NWC have also been presented with their prizes. They are Mrs. Abiola Liadi, a retired Permanent Secretary in the Lagos State Civil Service, who won a Turkish Return Ticket; Mrs. Adebisi Ikusawe, a civil servant with the Lagos Island Local Government, who won a brand new GAC Sport Utility Vehicle; and a 74-year-old Alhaja Olushola Oyedele a.k.a Iya Luku Mushin, who won a 2-bedroom apartment at LagosHoms, Sangotedo.

One other area the First Lady has not hidden her bias is in terms of her special love for children. In line with the Biblical injunction in Matthew 19: 14, which says “suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven,” the First Lady continues to maximally explore every opportunity to reach out to children.
As such, she organized a special Y2022 Family Easter Feast for children from schools, special homes, and orphanages across Lagos State at the Parliament, State House, Marina. The children had great fun and it was an opportunity for the First Lady to present gifts to the children, chaperons, and parents in attendance.

Still on her love for children, as Mama NAFEST (National Festival of Arts and Culture) 2022 hosted by Lagos State Government, she hosted the children participants from all the states of the Federation, also at the Parliament. For the First Lady, the decision to host the Children at the Parliament, which was built during Colonial rule, was intentional to give them a sense of history as they were taken on a tour of the mansion that used to serve as Nigeria’s Presidential Lodge. The children experienced firsthand the Waiting Room, the Conference Room, the Green Parlour, the Red Dinning, Mr. President’s Home Office, Mr. President and his wife’s Bed Chambers, the Kitchen, the Swimming Pool, and the Decision Room where key decisions about Nigeria used to be made, among other facilities in the building. As it is her tradition, the First Lady presented various gift items to all the students including laptops, educational tablets comprising school curriculum for both primary and secondary schools, t-shirts, goody bags, and others, while she admonished the children to be Ambassadors of peace, unity, and development of Nigeria.

In commemorating the Y2022 Children’s Day, the First Lady organized and participated in various activities. These include a special Thanksgiving Service held at the Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, Ikeja, with the theme: “A Better Future For Every Child”; Indomie Fan Club Children celebration; and an advocacy walk tagged: “A Cry For The Girl Child,” organized by The Kingdom Women to drive home the point for all and sundry to pay the necessary attention to the plight of the Girl Child.

She also flagged off the 2022 Integrated Measles Vaccination Campaign designed to eliminate measles which is a highly contagious, vaccine-preventable disease caused by the measles virus and a disease of public health importance that usually affects children younger than 5 years.

Also, on June 29, 2022, the First Lady had a fascinating and revealing engagement with secondary school girls who were inducted into the Queen’s Club of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA). Through the Queen’s Club Initiative, 310 girls drawn from 31 secondary schools from Education Districts 2 and 6 in Lagos were exposed to 6-weeks of thorough mentoring and training modules on Reproductive Rights and Health, Femininity, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Anger Management, Grit, Resilience and Tenacity, as well as transitioning from Girl to Woman. The training was done in a relaxed environment with the beneficiaries being able to share their thoughts and experiences on adolescence, reproductive health, and other issues enumerated in the curriculum, all geared towards raising empowered, enlightened, and transformed girls.

Being a mother that truly cares about the issue of parenting, the First Lady, in the period under review, equally hosted the 2nd edition of the Muslim Sisters’ Seminar with the theme: “Women: Nurturing Lives to Secure a Better Future.” The seminar was aimed at highlighting the strategic role of women in ensuring a better future for the younger generation and society at large. Other sub-themes include: “The Rights of a Woman; Women’s Health: Total Wellness; and Security & Self Awareness in a Modern Society.” There was also a Panel Session on “Parenting: The Role of a Mother/Grandmother in Molding a Contemporary Child.”

According to the First Lady, “We decided that it is important that we talk to our Muslim Sisters ensuring that if they are going to have a better future, they must put their health first; they must know their rights, and they must be security conscious. So, we have considered these three topics; put them together on the basis of the fact that they are apt for the moment to debunk a lot of myths out there so that the modern woman can understand what is happening and be empowered to make informed choices and decisions.”

As a matter of fact, the enthusiasm demonstrated by the participants was encouraging as the seminar provided the platform for them to interact properly, understand their various roles in society, and also have a better future for the next generation.

In terms of health intervention, the First Lady led the re-launch of the Jigi-Bola Medical outreach championed by the BOSKOH Healthcare Mission International in partnership with the State Government targeted to reach over 250,000 Lagosians in 8 Local Government Areas, 8 Market Sites, and 8 Police Barracks. The Jigi-Bola initiative is a celebration of one of the legacy-grassroots outreach programs of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the indefatigable former Governor of Lagos State and the Presidential Candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC). Essentially, the program is designed to strengthen the State’s capacity for efficient eye-care delivery. In the course of the Medical Outreach, the BOSKOH Team in partnership with officials of the state government ensured early detection of eye conditions that may lead to blindness, eye health education, free eye surgery, and treatment, dental procedures, and mental health education.

Another key project of the First Lady is the Market Sanitation, Security, and Safety Seminar which has now been firmly established. Periodically, through the project, a One-Day Seminar is organized for market leaders and stakeholders across the state. The seminar is an initiative put together via a collaborative effort of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) under the First Lady’s leadership and the Ministry of Local Government & Community Affairs in line with the commitment to put the welfare of the market men and women and residents at large on the front burner. So far, the seminar has been held in Ikeja, Ikorodu, Badagry, and Lagos Island Divisions to inspire a healthy, safe and secure marketplace.

Still on the projects of the First Lady, many are yet to recover from the 4th Community Sensitization and Empowerment program of the First Lady held in September 2022. At the event, key issues that are germane to the welfare and well-being of residents were thoroughly discussed as there were lectures by various Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), and members of the organized private sector. These are: Update on the usage of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) Machine and PVC registration/awareness by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); Awareness on the war against drug abuse by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Prevention, treatment, and management of Tuberculosis by TB Partnership; Transmission, prevention, symptoms, and treatment of Monkeypox by the Lagos State Ministry of Health; Sexual, Domestic and Gender-Based Violence by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA); and Update on the “Eko Clean Air” Initiative aimed at creating awareness about air pollution and usage of eco-friendly gas cylinders by the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA).

There were also presentations by Lagos State Health Management Agency (LASHMA); Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA); Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA); Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA); Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture; Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives; Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission (LASWARCO); 9 Payment Service Bank (9PSB); and the Nigerian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration & Reintegration.

Participants were drawn from various groups and organizations including widows, artisans, students, the disabled, youth organizations, political youths, political groups, professional bodies, and community-based organizations.

Beyond the lectures and various gift items to participants, 500 participants benefited from the donation of various tools and equipment to start their businesses and live their lives with dignity. The empowerment component was aimed at ensuring that beneficiaries become economically and financially independent and emerge as worthy ambassadors of their families, communities, and the state at large.

For the First Lady, the annual OFL Community Sensitization and Empowerment Programme which was first held in November 2019, has come to stay as a vehicle to align residents with the various initiatives of the government, with the view to creating the space for people to maximize the opportunities being created by government, give useful feedbacks that can enhance planning and also help them benefit from the massive economic empowerment initiatives.

The annual Lagos Praise was also successfully held in 2022, with the theme: “Sing of His Honour,” taken from Psalm 66:2.
After the successful hosting of the maiden edition of the Lagos Praise in 2021, it was indeed another great time in the presence of God in 2022 to sing forth his honour and to make his praise glorious at the 2nd edition of the remarkable praise session. It is particularly inspiring that the program, which started in 2019 as a monthly praise and prayer session put together by the Lagos State First Family in partnership with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has now been elevated to a statewide platform to thank God for his loving-kindness and also to commit the affairs of the state unto his care. Among others, the five blocs of CAN were in attendance, while great gospel singers including Evangelist Bukola Bekes, Pastor Chigozie Wisdom, and Michael Fashina, popularly known as Baba Erujeje powerfully led the congregation before the presence of God through their ministrations.

Another high point of the year under review is the successful hosting of the Quarterly Meeting of the Southern Governors Wives’ Forum (SGWF) by the Lagos State First Lady. As part of the meeting, members of the Forum visited Ogombo Community in the Ajah area of Lagos to inspect the level of work on the Secondary School project by COWLSO. The project was embarked on in line with the founding objectives of the Committee to impact lives positively and contribute immensely to the political and socio-economic growth of the state. Giving a brief, the First Lady said the secondary school project was necessitated by the need to intervene to address the plights of students who require secondary school education in the Ogombo community.

“We have the policy to deploy the proceeds from the COWLSO Conference to complement the efforts of the State Government, particularly in promoting child healthcare and education, empowering women, and generally improving the welfare of Lagosians.

“Before now, there was no senior secondary school in Ogombo and so in partnership with the Lagos State Special Committee on Rehabilitation of Public Schools (SCRPS), we decided to intervene. Our intention in coming up with this project is to give the people of Ogombo a befitting school that has all the modern facilities,” she said.

Among others, the facilities in the school are a Ramp for the physically challenged students, three laboratories for Physics, Chemistry and Biology, 10 Classrooms, Staff Rooms, Principal’s Office, Vice Principal’s Office, Library, Sick Bay, ICT Centre, Modern Toilets, and other sets of toilets specifically designed for students with special needs.

Members of the SGWF also visited the Lagos State Motherless Babies Home, Lekki where the Lagos First Lady donated some items including a 50-inch smart television, an industrial washing machine, cartons of noodles, and diapers, among others.

Earlier, the Governors’ Wives met at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, and afterward inspected the ongoing work at the Office of the First Lady of Lagos State and J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba and History, Onikan, respectively. They also paid a courtesy call on the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu who commended them for their efforts in their respective states, while also taking the advantage to inform them of the ongoing project of the Lagos State Government to build the biggest mental rehabilitation home in the country as part of efforts to comprehensively address the menace of drug abuse and provide the necessary care for victims.

Besides, members of COWLSO and women in the state are still basking in the exhilaration of the 2022 NWC. The 2022 NWC was unique in so many ways and the conference theme: “Spring Forth, Stand Out,” equally resonated with women not just in Lagos, but nationally.

In 2019, the theme of the inaugural NWC convened by Dr. Sanwo-Olu, was: “UNLEARN, LEARN AND RELEARN: 21ST CENTURY WOMEN’S T.H.E.M.E.S PERSPECTIVES/APPROACH.” In 2020, we discussion focused on “EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITIES IN A NEW WORLD”. In 2021, the theme was “AWAKE!”

After extensively dealing with issues around awakening in 2021, what naturally follows an awakening is to emerge into something more beautiful and better. You emerge into a better version of yourself and keep pushing forward to make a positive difference. This, according to the First Lady, is the key takeaway from the 2022 NWC.

As part of the NWC, a posthumous award was presented to the late Southwest APC Women Leader, Chief Mrs. Kemi Nelson. Other award recipients were the Wife of the First Civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Abimbola Jakande, media personality, Funmi Iyanda; and the inspirational woman of the year award presented to Adenike Oyetunde-Lawal for her passion in driving conversations around the plight of the disabled in Nigeria. At the Gala Night, several interesting prizes were won, apart from the star prizes won by lucky participants.

Towards the end of the year 2022, the First Lady also collaborated with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to organize the novel Greater Lagos Arts Exhibition for young artists to showcase their talents, network with their peers and gain from the experience of veterans through mentorship.

The exhibition, with the theme, “Art in and for Transformation,” featured knowledge-sharing discussions by highly successful and award-winning professionals and gave visibility to artists and their artworks as part of governmental intervention to further deepen the growth of the creative industry. The event also featured an art exhibition by 30 artists, panel discussion and participation of secondary school students.

Other programs that were sustained and greatly elevated are the Senior Citizens Initiative which was extended to the aged in the five administrative divisions of the state, the financial empowerment project of the First Lady, Annual Christmas Carol and Thanksgiving Service, and the First Babies of the year celebration.

On January 1, 2023, the First Lady welcomed and presented gift items to the first babies of the year in three State-owned hospitals namely – Maternal and Child Centre (MCC), Eti-Osa, General Hospital, Ebute-Metta; and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.

Baby Ayinde, a Male who weighed 3.1Kg delivered at exactly 12:01am by Mrs. Ayinde is the first baby of the year at the Eti-Osa MCC. Baby Iromain, a female who weighed 2.9Kg and delivered at 12:02am by Mrs. Iromain is the first baby of the year at Ebute-Metta General Hospital, while the first babies of year at the LASUTH are Triplets delivered through Cesarean Section by Mrs Olufoye. The first child, a Female, weighing 2.2kg was delivered at exactly 12:07am; the second child, a Male who weighed 2kg was delivered at 12:08am while the third child, a Female who weighed 2.1kg was delivered by 12:09am.

The celebration of the day was wrapped up with the special birthday party organized by the First Lady for the previous first babies of 2020, 2021 and 2022, with various gift items.

As the First Lady, Dr. (Mrs.) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu celebrates her 56th birthday today, it is my fervent prayer that she will continue to enjoy the blessings of good health, true joy and peace, and divine inspiration to sustain and scale up exemplary service to humanity.

Happy birthday, Ma!

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