Let me commence by confessing that just like UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, I am an unrepentant feminist.  Seven male recipients of honours bestowed by the government of Osun State publicized on our channels in the past two days, we cannot stand the risk of being tagged female chauvinists. We know the importance of women to societal development and have always advocated for increased responsibilities for the female gender at home as pivots of family units, and in the society at large as facilitators of social cohesion, specifically the processes of building shared values. More importantly, think about what daughters of Eve go through during labour to bring us into this world.

 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the 24th President of Liberia. She was the world’s first elected Black female president and the first woman ever elected head of state on the continent of Africa. In 2011, Sirleaf was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. The women were recognized “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Sirleaf was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize by President of India Pranab Mukherjee on 12 September 2013. ‘’ Read her thoughts in her address to the female gender: “The future belongs to us, because we have taken charge of it…“Women work harder. And women are more honest; they have less-reasons to be corrupt. “I’ve been a victor of circumstance “If your dreams don’t scare you, you aren’t dreaming big enough. “I work hard, I work late, I have nothing on my conscience. When I go to bed, I sleep. “We are here because we share a fundamental belief: that poverty, illiteracy, disease, and inequality do not belong in the twenty-first century. We share a common purpose: to eradicate these ills for the benefit of all…“To girls and women everywhere, I issue a simple invitation. ‘’My sisters, my daughters, my friends; find your voice.” “Leadership is never given on a silver platter, one has to earn it.” “Ethnicity should enrich us; it should make us a unique people in our diversity and not be used to divide us.” Future generations will judge us not by what we say, but what we do.’’

The recognition for honour bestowed on Engr (Mrs) Joana Olutunmbi Maduka and  Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija has provided us the worthy opportunity of canvassing on a mass scale increased relevance for women,  and generally the female gender. Stanley Baldwin, it was who stated that: ‘’I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.’’ Elsewhere, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asserted that:  ‘’In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman. Imagine if the parents of Olutunmbi Maduka and Folorunsho Alakija had deprived them of their inalienable right to education through discrimination. In the cases of these two personalities  who by all measurable standards huge successes. And Nelson Mandela’s thought applies here: ‘’What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. ‘’It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.’’

She is the first child of the famous Mr Daniel Dada and Olufunmilayo Layinka family of Ilesha. Joana Maduka was born May 6, 1941. She attended Otapete Methodist School for her primary schooling. She attended Methodist Girls’ School then went to Queen’s School in 1955.She had her B.Sc in Applied Physics from University of Ife in 1965.[ She got her M.Sc in Engineering from Trinity College Dublin in 1969.  In 1966, Maduka took the Institution of Electrical Engineers graduation examination and passed.  With a B.Sc. in applied physics in 1965, she passed the Graduateship Examination of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), (UK) in 1966 and earned an M.Sc. (Engineering) degree from Trinity College, Dublin in 1969. She worked briefly in the media and later moved to engineering consultancy in 1970, and she became a partner of Leccom Associates. In 1975.Joana Maduka MFR, became the first female fellow of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria in 1974. She is also a fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Nigerian Academy of Engineering. She was made an honorary fellow in Nigerian Institute of Science Technology in 1987 and Yaba College of Technology in 1988. She was given the national honour as a member of the Federal Republic in 2008.

Joana Maduka’s footmarks dot the landscape of the Engineering profession in Nigeria. First female fellow and president Council for the regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), first female Vice President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers NSE; First Female President of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE). A publication of the International Forum for Women in Energy OIL and Gas (WEOG) and the Association of Professional Women Engineers Nigeria; Friends of the Environment (FOTE) that she founded states that ‘’Maduka is the epitome of an energy woman closing energy gap and moving nations forward. In 2008, she was conferred with the national honour: Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR). She is currently the Chairperson of the International Forum for Women in Energy OIL and Gas (WEOG) Chairperson, Better Life for Rural Women; Foundation Board Member, International Network of Women in Engineering & Science (INWES) Maduka has also served on boards of several polytechnics & Universities across the nation. She holds the record of being the first female governing board member of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and member of the founding executives of the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas Company (NLNG) Maduka played a major role in the facilitation of the full take-off of the company’s operations in Nigeria.  She became the first female fellow of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) in 1974. She is also a fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Nigerian Academy of Engineering.

ThisDay Newspapers commented at her 80th birthday celebration three months ago that Maduka ‘’is the first female engineer to break grounds in the hydrocarbon terrain in the country. ‘’Noted for her distinguished and unique accomplishments and track record, Joanna Olutunmbi Maduka, is the first to attain several feats among the female gender of Nigerian engineers. ‘’Maduka, one of the pioneering engineers, who shattered the glass ceiling and made great strides in the early days of the nation’s oil and gas industry. To avoid any controversy, it is important to clarify that the first female Engineer in Nigeria is Engr.Mrs Grace Ezema who graduated from ABU Zaria in 1963.  Ebele Okeke, FNSE, FICE, OON, CFR is another trail blazer as the first female Civil engineer and first female Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. She is married to a high flyer, Engr. Vincent Dele Maduka, who served at General Manager WNTV/WNBS before moving over the Lagos to serve as the Director-General of The Nigerian Television Authority.

MRS. FOLORUNSHO ALAKIJA – A WOMAN OF MANY PARTS AND GREAT ROLE MODEL   Mrs Folorunsho Alakija is an example of a well-bred lady who has allowed her very remarkable attainments to go into her head; emerging over time as a philanthropist, evangelist, wife and mother whose contributions to societal development cannot be waved aside. It is easy for the rich to ‘’misbehave’’ because wealth could really provoke human behavior, particularly pride and cognitive dissonance in the attitude of the affluent..  Folorunsho Alakija is the richest woman in Africa and one of wealthiest in the world. She is said to be worth about $2.5 billion. But this is not the only interesting fact about her. While she has a lot of money, she also depends on her thriving family for love and support.

There are two ways – couples could manage a home in unity and have their children and wards understudy them for positive effects. They could also choose, though foolishly, to exhibit negative tendencies that rub off on children and become parts and parcels of their lives as they grow up, through assimilating or mimicking conducts of the older ones. Obviously, any matter that ‘’adversely affects the future of children affects the whole community’’. Several studies have indicated that Nigerian women deserve encouragement and more opportunities, and Nigeria’s progress and national development will be constrained if women and girls continue to be disadvantaged and gender equity is ignored, even as non-discrimination is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.

Folorunsho Alakija was born on 15th of July, 1951 to an upper-middle-class family; her father was Chief L. A. Ogbara of Ikorodu, Lagos State. Alakija attended her nursery education at Our Ladies of Apostles, Lagos from 1955 to 1958. At the age seven, Folorunsho Alakija travelled to the United Kingdom to continue her primary education at Dinorben School for Girls in Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales between 1959 and 1963. On the completion of her primary education, Folorunsho attended Muslim High School  in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. She then returned to England for her secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College, London. (Wikipedia) She hails from a Muslim background and a polygamous lifestyle. Her father had eight wives and 52 children. He reveals in an interview with CNBC Africa that: ‘’All the wives had to cooperate with each other.’’

She continues: ‘’To them that was how life was, they cooperated with one another, they quarrelled and made up again, most of us were living under one roof in private bedrooms, I think about four floors of a building, in the heart of Lagos Island,” says Alakija. She is the Group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, Digital Reality Prints Limited and the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited.  Folorunsho Alakija also has a majority stake in DaySpring Property Development Company.  CNBC News quotes Alakija as stating that:  “I don’t think I could have got this far if I had not entered into a covenant with God. It was 25 years since I gave my life to Christ. I entered into an agreement that if he would bless me I would serve him all the days of my life,” In the heart of Lagos, the Rose of Sharon Glorious Ministry International is home to an intimate congregation who meet every Tuesday for fellowship and prayer. They are dedicated to a common purpose, to serve God, a vision which has remained intact since its founder, Folorunsho Alakija, made a pact with God decades ago.

She is described in Wikipedia as ‘’a Nigerian billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist. She is involved in the fashion, oil, real estate and printing industries. Folorunsho Alakija is ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $1 billion as of 2020 and is the Managing director, Rose of Sharon Group. A publication titled: ‘The Africa CEO Forum’ describes Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija as ‘’a dynamic Nigerian businesswoman and philanthropist. ‘’She oversees several business endeavours such as: FAMFA Oil Limited, her family’s oil exploration and production business as the Vice Chairman, seeing to its strategic planning and day to day administration. She is the Vice Chairman of Dayspring Property Development Company Limited, a real estate company with investments in different parts of the world. She is also the Vice Chairman of Digitalreality Print Ltd, a world-class printing company. ‘’She has served her country Nigeria, as a member of several committees. She is an acclaimed public speaker and the first female to be appointed as Chancellor of a public university in Africa. ‘’She is a prolific writer and has authored several inspirational books, including her autobiography. She is a board member of the Commonwealth Business Forum. She is a recipient of many awards in various capacities both locally and internationally.’’

AT HOME Children are at risk of developing negative perceptions of relationship and society in situations where parents break up as a result on irreconcilable differences.  The responsibility for managing a home, nurturing children, and constructing a society is that of husband   and wife; and these must be jointly executed.  Lapses and outright failure of parents to monitor their children as they grow into impressionable ages are the causes of the intolerable level of moral decay that the society is currently witnessing. Evidently, there is a perceptible urgent need to inculcate the right values in the younger generation, as spouses exercise parental responsibilities. Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija got married to Modupe Alakija in 1976, and the marriage is believed to be an example of a union made in heaven. When wealth came largely through the benevolence of God and the influence of Folorunsho, she moved to the back seat as Vice-Chairman, allowing her husband to lead the way. Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija says that they make sure they solve all their little issues. ‘’Marriages do not break at one moment. It is important to monitor small obstacles and correct them in time. ‘’Also, a marriage should be approached sensibly, with an understanding of all its advantages and disadvantages. Many people want a fairy tale and then get frustrated when they do not get it’’. (Legit)

MENTORING YOUNG WOMEN She told Punch Newspaper when she attained the age of 70 that: ‘’We are doing that through ‘Flourish Africa’—a women empowerment movement. I came up with that because public speaking had made a lot of people reach out to me to become their mentors. But, I don’t have the time to mentor people individually. So, I decided to make it a group thing since they have common interests, goals and values. I set up Flourish Africa to help women to be who God created them to be and flourish.’’ Do you know that the goal post continues to change as long as one is alive? For as long as one is alive, one will always have other things to achieve. One can never achieve everything while one is alive. There would always be something that one would be aspiring to do or get. And, it might not be everything one wanted at a particular milestone; one could still be working on some. It is when one dies and gets to the ‘beautiful gate’ that one would know if one has achieved all. Right now, it is too early to say (that I have achieved all) because I still have more time.

About business, she says she has learnt that it is not every business one ventures into that one would succeed at. One would win some and lose some. But, when one loses, one should not give up or run away. One just has to keep trying. It is the mistakes that one made that would teach one lessons that one could apply to improve on subsequent attempts. I have learnt that one can turn one’s challenges into bigger and better opportunities. As an employer in Nigeria, I have learnt that when one hires a staff, no matter what they tell one during an interview, one is going to find out that one would have to teach them a lot of things they said they could do. But, one must not throw the baby away with the bathwater. One should give them an opportunity to learn something new. Also, one must follow up with staff when one issues instructions. Set reminders and targets. At home, one would find out that children, no matter how young, are extremely intelligent. Children will test one’s patience and mood. Also, one should not be far away from one’s children. One should always be in constant contact with them. Children need to be guided and if parents don’t teach them, outsiders would teach them the hard way. Every child deserves the attention of their parents.  When one is too busy with work or business, something could happen in their lives that could lead to regret.

BROKENESS: Mrs. Alakija is an evangelist and is deeply involved in serving the Lord through various activities funded by her. The Rose of Sharon foundation that she founded was registered on the 14th of February 2005 and launched on the 23rd of May 2008. The RoSF has directly impacted the lives of more than 4,262 widows and 20,000 indirect family members in six (6) Geo-political zones of Nigeria. Her life is reflective of today’s charge by Dr. DK Olukoya in Mountain Top Life that: ‘’Caring God’s own way brings cure to sick and hurting minds. It involves speaking words of encouragement and edification to strengthen the weak. There are many in need of inner healing all around you, both in and out of Church. Have you ever cared for the aged around you, the less privileged and the helpless? Decide to do something today. Start from somewhere. Don’t despise the day of little beginning. ‘’Be kind, all the same, even when you are not cared for! Every small drop of kindness from you to others becomes a ripple, spreading beyond you and your lifetime in the ocean of life. These acts of kindness write volume about you on the table of the hearts of men. Scriptures repeatedly made mention of caring for one another as being the very heart of God (Proverbs 19:17), and signs of good and healthy Christian lifestyle (Romans 12:10,13).

Olukoya adds: ‘’Keeping to yourself or being stingy with your love and substance amounts to miserliness, in every manner of it. Unfortunately, no man increases under such practices (Proverbs 11:24) Apostle Paul said far beyond his harrowing experience in ministry, the care of Churches is utmost on his mind (2 Corinthians 11:28). What an affirmation of genuine love for souls! He constantly taught brethren how to spend and be spent, for the sake of caring for fellow Christians. Most importantly, he emphasised the issue of giving willingly and cheerfully, not grudgingly (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). He taught them to give not only their substance but first themselves. This true and genuine service is pleasing unto God (Hebrews 13:16).

She is into her second term as Chancellor, Osun State University, having been reappointed this year for another five year tenure, based on her track record as a lover of education, philanthropist of note and above all a resourceful education manager as demonstrated during her first tenure in office. Governor Gboyega Oyetola had noted in her letter of reappointment that ‘’ Your track record as a lover of education, a philanthropist of note and above all a resourceful education manager as demonstrated during your first tenure in office has endeared you to all and sundry within and outside our state. ‘’I am therefore, confident and assured of a greater future of unprecedented all round development for our dear State University’’





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