The First Lady of Ekiti State, Olayemi Oyebanji, who until recently, was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Education Management at the University of Ibadan, tells ABIODUN NEJO about her relationship with her husband, childhood, background and other issues
Not much was known about you until the emergence of your husband as the governor of Ekiti State. How would you describe your childhood?
My early life was just like that of any typical Ekiti girl, who is nurtured to appreciate the core value of ‘omoluabi’ (responsibility) and uphold those unique attributes that single out an Ekiti person. Those attributes include integrity, honesty and self-esteem. My father, the late Prince Samuel Adedipe, was a Christian, community leader and businessman, who did not only want all his children to live Christian lives, but also imbibe basic moral principles that would distinguish us in society.
Our parents also taught us virtues such as integrity, love and being respectful to elders. Like many parents of his generation, my father believed in education and expected good character from all his children. To a large extent, I think those values have helped me tremendously in my educational pursuit, career and as a wife and mother. As I was grew older, I realised that the state being called ‘the land of honour’ was not accidental. That sobriquet is not just a nomenclature, but the truth. Thus, we (people from Ekiti) have to embody the values that the sobriquet connotes. That way, the outside world won’t only see us as a people from a state called ‘land of honour’; but perceive us as people of honour.
That simple philosophy aptly guided my early life, relationships in the workplace, and shaping me into who I am today.
As a child, did you ever imagine that your life would turn out the way it did?
Yes. I had always loved to become a lawyer, because by nature, I am very expressive, and I’m not easily intimidated. However, at the point of gaining admission into the university, the result of my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination did not meet the cut-off mark to study Law; and, I was advised to change to another course.
I then had to change to Educational Management. Back then, I thought that when I got to 200 level, I would cross over to Law. But, by the time I got to 200 level, I had fallen in love with the course I was studying. That was how I ended up becoming an educational administrator, with my areas of specialisation being personnel management, quality assurance in education, and leadership in education. I actually did not plan it, but providence led me to it. I eventually bagged a Bachelor, Master’s and doctorate in the field.
Of course, when someone’s academic trajectory is along that line, it is natural for one to head towards being a vocational professional. I ended up being a lecturer; not because that was what I planned to be, but because fate led me in that direction. I never thought of becoming a lecturer, but I later enjoyed it.
Did you ever see yourself becoming the First Lady of Ekiti State?
It never crossed my mind that my husband would one day contemplate seeking an elective post. As a child, I had an indifferent view about politics. That was, perhaps because I was already aware of what was happening around me during the 1983 (political) crisis in the old Ondo State, when there was a lot of violence which led to the loss of lives and property. Ekiti was still part of Ondo State then. The fallout from that singular crisis created fear (of politics) in many children of our generation, and I tried as much as possible not to be attracted to politics.
It will also interest you to know that subconsciously, one of the first questions I asked my husband when we were dating was whether he would one day go into politics. His answer was diplomatic, but I followed it up by boxing him into a corner to promise me he would never go into politics. Aside from the experience of 1983, the fact that my husband had his first and second degrees in Political Science also spurred my curiosity (about his interest in politics).
Did he make the promise at that time?
(Laughs) As a lover boy then, who was determined to sweep me off my feet, he made the promise to me. You will agree with me that the question became necessary then because of my level of understanding of life, and how God works in our lives. Also, he made the promise because he was ready to do everything I wanted to win my heart. The rest is history.
Credit: The Punch