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Florence Ajimobi @ 60: A Diamond of a Gem

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Sixty years ago today, an Amazon bred in the city of Ibadan was born. The first lady of Oyo State Mrs Florence Ajimobi marks her Diamond anniversary on earth. Hip Hip Huzzah!!!

This year’s celebration is quite unique and auspicious. It marks the last time Dr Florence Ajimobi will be celebrating her birthday as the First lady of Oyo state after a historic 8 year tenure of 2 terms secured by her husband the executive governor of Oyo state Sen. Abiola Ajimobi

Constitutionally, the office of the first lady at any level of government is not recognised, interestingly however, we have come to accept it a norm and convention and some women have rode on this platform to launched and engrave their names and memories in the minds of the citizens making their mark in the governance of the state and nation thereby adding feathers to the cap of their governing husbands. Perhaps, we have Maryam Babangida to thank for institutionalizing the position of the First Lady and setting the pace in a commendable manner (with her Better Life program and initiative) for women in government to follow.

This Femocratic culture has allowed women and wives of political actors to launched themselves and contribute in their own meaningful way to the development of their domain thereby enhancing the positive perception of their husbands while garnering the good will of the people. Florence Ajimobi is a shining example of this fact

For Eight years, governor Abiola Ajimobi, the koseleri 1 sat majestically and elegantly on the primus seat at the Agodi government house remarkably initiating and executing various reforms and projects in the pace setter state of Oyo. It is plausible to know that he achieved this much reforms and programmes with the unalloyed support of his delectable and loving wife. As the saying goes, Behind (Beside) every successful man is a supportive and successful woman.

It didn’t take long for Mrs Florence Ajimobi to make her mark in the minds of the residents of Oyo state, A mark that may never be erased for a long time to come. Just as her husband hit the ground running in delivering good governance in 2011, Florence also wasted no time to initiate programmes meant to empower women at various levels in the society. She did so remarkably seamlessly. Why?

Not many persons know that Florence Ajimobi is not a Nigerian. She is Lebanese! Yes. However she was born and bred in Nigeria. She was born to the Hajaid family of Lebanese origin on 5th of April 1959 in Benin City. Shortly afterwards her parent relocated to the city of Ibadan where she has spent virtually all her life. She attended the Bodija International School and thereafter Our Lady of Apostles secondary school. For her tertiary education she went to The Polytechnic Ibadan where she studied Secretariat Studies and Management.

After her education she went ahead to serve in various capacities in reputable institutions including Femi Johnson and Co a foremost insurance broker in the city of Ibadan.

Her solid background as a resident of the city of Ibadan gave her a firsthand appreciation and understanding of the task of good governance and no sooner had the opportunity to serve presented itself, when her husband Abiola Ajimobi won the election and was sworn in as the executive governor of Oyo state, than she began her empowerment and humanitarian initiatives using her office as the first lady as a good vantage point to impart the society and the state in general. Most of these initiatives were focused on the less privileged in the society such as women and children.

Some of the initiatives embarked upon are :

  • The AJUMOSE FOOD BANK – A monthly food provision support programme for the less priviledge especially widows.
  • Educate A Rural Child project – providing educational materials for indigent children
  • Creation of Mini Clinics for Widows and the Aged
  • Establishment of ICT Center for Women in Public Service
  • Access to Basic medical Care (ABC) FOUNDATION – providing easy access to Basic medical Care
  • To enhance cooperation and effective governance, She championed and organized the wives if political and public office holders together under the umbrella of the Oyo State Officials’ Wives Association OYSOWA, an intellectual hub and platform where issues concerning women in the society are discussed and solved.

Apart from the various empowerment programs initiated by Her Excellency, she also in conjunction with her husband owns some business outfits in Ibadan that has helped alleviate the unemployment problems in the state. Grandex bakery and the Grandex supermarket are some of the investments that she made in the state. This entrepreneurship drive is of little of no surprise as she was an entrepreneur extraordinaire having resigned her paid employment to venture into business before politics came calling through her husband

It is thus without surprise that Dr Florence Ajimobi has been a recipient of numerous awards and recognition. Just days ago she inducted into the Chartered Institute of Public resources management and Politics (CIPRMP), an institute based in Ghana. The induction add her to the gallery of eminent Nigerians who are recipient of the award such as The first Lady Aisha Buhari, Chief Afe Babalola, Emir of Kano, HRM Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

At the event, the Director of the Institute Dr Richard Kpoku congratulated Mrs Ajimobi on the recognition. In his words: “you are seen as a role model figure, beacon of hope and source of unending inspiration to this generation and future generations.

“Your sterling qualities in leadership toward ensuring excellent service delivery have impacted positively in your sector, nation and global stage at large.’’

Remarkably, no first lady in the history of Oyo state has been more prominent, more charitable more involved and more loved than Dr Mrs Florence Ajimobi. The incoming first lady Mrs Tamunominini Makinde will do well to take a cue from her giant strides and continue from where she stops in imparting the lives of women and children in the society.

While the tenure of the Governor might be wounding down, it will be foolhardy to assume that the legacies of the Oyo state First lady will also wind down, as she has been involved in these humanitarian activities before Political office beckoned. We only hope she will do more to cement her name and image in the minds of many women and children and indeed the people of Oyo state for many years to come.

Happy Diamond Jubilee to our Ibadan bred Amazon

Indeed Diamonds are forever.

Diamonds they say are everlasting so also will be the effect and memories of the charismatic first lady of Oyo state even long after the expiration of the tenure of his excellency Abiola Ajimobi

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