Date Published: 07/30/11
For Jumoke Akinjide, this is another call to excel by Kehinde Olaosebikan
President Goodluck Jonathan’s catch-phrase when he campaigned for the exalted seat was that he would usher in a breath of fresh air to leadership in Nigeria. This was the main theme of his campaign. And of course, Nigerians bought into it and rose up with one voice and voted him into office. He had indeed promised that he would assemble a team that was capable of redefining political leadership in the country. And true to type, a look at the composition of his cabinet has every strand of expertise in all fields. Every member of the cabinet has the potentials of leading the nation aright.
It is on this score that President Jonathan said that his transformation agenda will not place any sector of the country above others. To that extent, he disclosed that the present administration will not put a number on his agenda but will concentrate on delivering good governance. Because the president means business and wants to make a difference within his ability and the provisions of the constitution of the country, and with the sole aim of stimulating the economy and jump-starting production, he said that enumerating agenda created the impression that some are more important than others. “We don't want to create the wrong impression because every sector of the economy is very critical. I needed to clarify that we are not running any point agenda,” he said.
And so for Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, this is the time to further demonstrate the inherent character of foresight and exemplary leadership as an emerging Amazon in the political firmament of Nigeria. She comes across as a thorough bred personality. There is no doubt that, coming from the lineage of the renowned legal luminary, Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide, Jumoke has been couched in the true life of sound education and political judgment. It is therefore a truism that this Chartered Arbitrator’s choice to serve in President Jonathan’s transformation government is not only fitting but timely.
Born in 1959 at Ibadan, the largest city in Black Africa, Jumoke’s experience began, first from the legal firm of her father, sojourns abroad and in Olusegun Obasanjo's government. These indeed have enriched her to be able to sit among other egg heads in the federal cabinet and contribute positively to the new approach in the president’s fresh air to governance in this country.
In the administration of former President Obasanjo, she had served as Special Adviser on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) matters and discharged herself creditably well. Indeed, it will be apt to situate that her posting to the FCT is just a return home.
Politically, Oloye Jumoke Akinjide showed the stuff she was made up of during the campaigns that led to the last general elections when she brought sophistication, vibrancy, color and style into the hitherto rough and not too inspiring politics of the state. As an aspirant for the Senatorial seat of Oyo Central, Jumoke ran a campaign second to none in the contemporary Oyo State. Jumoke, who was initially tagged the dark horse in the race, shook the state with her clean, methodical, robust and issue based campaign. Depicting unusual strength and organizational prowess, Olajumoke’s campaign maintained a constant tempo for about two years without any sign of fatigue, fear or frustration whatsoever. With her beautiful face and penetrating messages, Jumoke’s billboards,posters and other colorful campaign resources were noticeable in every nook and cranny of the senatorial district.
At all functions preceding the elections, jumoke was consistently the cynosure of all eyes. She was everywhere with her powerful supporters. And when the party primaries were held at Durbar Stadium Oyo, Jumoke made mincemeat of all her opponents. That she even lost at the polls was not as a result of poor preparations or lack of popularity, it was as a result of other political factors.
As a lover of the downtrodden, Oloye Akinjide introduced a novel medical programme, where people got medical treatments including major operations done for them gratis. According to records, over 10,000 lives were saved through these medical programmes. That was clearly an outstanding achievement from somebody who was not in government. Even , for those in government , the achievement is unprecedented.
As a loyal and appreciative person, Jumoke would always at any giving opportunity recognize and express her gratitude to her benefactor in politics, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo whom she said , she owes her adventure into active politics to. She said while she served in the Obasanjo government as adviser on the FCT, the former president encouraged her. In an interview she granted The Guardian when she ran for a senate seat in the 2011 general elections, Jumoke had alluded to this fact saying that "I started politics when I was the Special Adviser to the former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 on Federal Capital Territory matters. He encouraged me to go into politics and since then, I have always enjoyed it."
One of the driving forces in her political life comes from the self confidence she has built through the challenges that were thrown at their family when her father was a key opposition figure in the NPN-led second republic where Shehu Shagari held sway as president of Nigeria. For instance, at that time, because Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the leading light in the south west, her family became a source of discussion and anywhere any member of the family found himself, it was a great challenge. But beyond that, it kind of toughened her and her siblings for the challenges that she was to face in future.
Jumoke's resume can be said to be intimidating to say the least. She has schooled both here in Nigeria and England where she studied law. She attended Harvard Law School, United States for her Master's programme in law. After the mandatory NYSC in 1982, she joined her father's chambers, Akinjide and Company in 1983 where she became the Managing Partner, Joint Head of the Energy Law and of Company Law Departments. Here, she gained enough experience which she explained “could not be measured.”
Cumulatively Jumoke has 22 years’ post-qualification experience in the legal profession with notable expertise both as counsel, arbitrator, conciliator and mediator in corporate, commercial, energy, construction and maritime matters. This is apart from serving the nation at different capacities. And this is what she has brought to bear as she join hands with Senator Bala Mohammed in the administration of the FCT within the context of the transformation agenda of President Jonathan.
There is no doubt that the FCT has multifaceted challenges. And she is no stranger either. There is the issue in the distortion in the master plan, the lack of foresight by successive administrations in fast tracking development of the capital city in a way that would open up the satellite areas and decongest the centre as well as the issue of environmental challenges. To crown it all, the duo of Senator Mohammed and Akinjide would have to put their administrative suavity to work to address the raging problem of the absence of infrastructure in the FCT or its decay. The growing figure in traffic challenges is alarming. All these are some of the problems Bala and Jumoke will be facing.
Clearly, Jumoke is not just an appointee who has come to fill the slot for her state Oyo. She is a leading light in her chosen profession and has impeccable pedigree to diligently pursue her assignment at the FCT. She is a known team player, a diligent and patriotic personality who believes that Nigeria must move from her present state of despair to join other nations of the globe in delivering concrete and sustainable development to meet yearnings and aspirations of the teeming population.
It is no gain saying that at a time that President Jonathan has promised to breathe fresh air and deliver good governance to Nigeria, Jumoke’s industrious and passion field will come to play. It may not just be at her primary duty post at the FCT but as a member of the Federal Executive Council, issues that may arise from arbitrations in the resolution of disputes, general administration, politics and others.
As the cabinet settles down to the real issues in the nations, this resourceful lawyer should know that the people of Oyo State look up to her to excel and make us proud. Don’t try to be somebody else, but rather, strive to be better than others for the years of service ahead are much more than what we see now.
It is heartwarming to note that Jumoke sees her life of service to being a dedication to work for her people, the ordinary Nigerian who needs infrastructure, who needs education, good health services, derives pleasure in the rule of law and who wants agricultural implements to better his life. That`s the person she says proudly, she is dedicating her life of service to. And this is commendable. The days and years ahead are ofk essence. We’ll stand by you to succeed.
KEHINDE OLAOSEBIKAN, IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN, OLUYOLE LOCAL GOVERNMENT, OYO STATE, WRITES IN THROUGH firstname.lastname@example.org