Wiki Loves Women: WFM 91.7
Saturday 29 June, 2019
Audio available here: https://www.africanwomenonboard.org/audio
Introduction by Sola Jimmy
Wiki Loves Women is that on-air radio show that educates you about women from Africa, Nigeria specifically who are doing exceedingly well in their professional ambition and have been able to make a name for themselves as a result. Wiki Loves Women brings these amiable women to you so as to gain one or two things from their success story and apply them to our everyday live so as to attract some or even more success. Wiki Loves Women is a channel that celebrates these esteemed personalities so as it is done in every episode of wiki loves women. We bring women across Nigeria who have made tremendous impact to the society to share their experiences on how they have been able to achieve so much in this patriarchal world and how can we do likewise in our individual ambitions. Today on wiki loves women, we have two great women on the show. Hence, making it a special edition of the show.
The first person we have here is Ijeoma Agukoronye, she is a program manager for African Women on Board (AWB). AWB is a non-profit organisation led by and in service of African women and girls on the continent and in diaspora. They are a women’s focused brain trust with an expansive network of both women and men change makers for around the world. What they all share in common is their unfailing commitment to reshape narratives about African women and girls and fast tracking their trajectory into the leadership world of the future. Ijeoma is also a content producer with over 10 years’ experience with audio visual production. She has worked on television documentary, digital media and featured film productions. She is a Nigerian producer who has written, edited and produced content for major brand beverage companies etc. She has worked with T.V Series, entertainment, sport shows, documentaries etc. You deserve some form of accolades, you have done amazingly well in time, you have been able to achieve so much and looking forward there is still the prospect of you doing more. You are an epitome of what we should call a standard, well established woman. We are honoured to have you here.
How are you today?
Ijeoma: I am fine. Hearing everything you are saying, it sounds as if you are talking about someone else. I am very humbled. It’s just that in the course of work, this is what I have been doing. You are talking about my past life as a content producer and I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have to do such work. My current capacity as AWB Program Manager entails all the wonderful and inspiring things we are doing for women and girls in Africa.
Sola: Yeah, you cannot put aside your other accomplishments as a woman because that is what Wiki Loves Women is about. We celebrate women and their accomplishments so that people can learn and be inspired by your story and generate more success through that using you as a role model to become better and to say, oh this is a fellow woman that has achieved a lot in a short period of time and this is someone that we should actually be aiming to look on to as a guideline. You are like a pace setter. I am sure there are people out there who look at you as a role model and say this is someone I want to be like when I grow up considering the things you have done.
Ijeoma: Okay, I’m actually quite speechless about that. Thank you for those words. I think that any woman who finds herself advancing in whatever endeavour she pursues. It is not necessarily because she thinks of herself as a woman. She just probably sees a challenge or an opportunity and decides to pursue it despite whatever objections other people present to her. Many women we find that there is always going to be that gender issue when you try to do something that is not deemed what women pursue. Thank God that mind sets are changing gradually. It is however still a process. I think the good thing about programs like this and so many other initiatives are that it is opening women’s minds to the possibilities. You are not limited by your gender.
Sola: Wise words by Ijeoma there. Alright, I have another guest in the studio in person of Princess Adebisi Ogunsanya, who is a Nigerian Entrepreneur and was a gubernatorial candidate of YPP in Lagos State in the 2019 election and a retired banker. She started her Primary school education at St. Peters Primary School, Lagos Island, Nigeria and in 1969, she started her secondary school education in Lagos City College, Yaba Lagos. In 1972, she proceeded to the United Kingdom for her A-levels program. In 1975, she enrolled in City of London Polytechnic now known as London Metropolitan University. She completed her MSC in Banking and Finance from the University Ibadan in 1995. Adebisi worked in Africa Continental Bank from 1969 – 1971. From 1976 – 1978, she worked as an Assistant Accountant at Bhojsons Industries PLC., secondly at Atlantic Textiles Nigeria. In 1979, she returned to the banking industry as a graduate officer. Adebisi worked 20 years for Savannah Bank while undergoing her MSC program. She retired as senior management staff and became an entrepreneur. She was a gubernatorial candidate in Lagos in the year 2019 for YPP. She entered the governorship race to achieve the following cardinal objectives
Empower community to build wealth.
Good Afternoon Princess Adebisi. It is wonderful to have you here in the studio this afternoon on Wiki Loves Women.
Princess Adebisi: Thank you very much. Good Afternoon to you, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Sola: Both of you are inspiring, your track record, the things you have accomplished over the years, they are just amazing. You have a purpose of being here today. You have a reason to amplify women, to let them know that they could be whatever they want, they could be whoever they want and they should not be held back by the gender barrier and considering the way the 2019 election has gone, Princess Adebisi will be sharing her experience running for governorship in Lagos State. How did it feel? What were the things you went through and considering the fact that your gender as a woman has created an obstacle or a barrier bias? What were the things you went through? How did you overcome these hurdles and what have you learnt? What are the things that we need to do better to forge forward as the female gender? How can we make the female gender better? How can we help them know that they should not be confined to certain things in life? You could do whatever you want. You could be the Governor. You could be the President. You could be whatever you want to be in any angle of life. How do we get women to know that they could do more of what they like? And not just be constrained to oh, I am a woman. We need to break that idea because that is the dominant notion. Considering the fact that Nigeria is, I mean there was statistics that Nigeria is Number 181 in the list of countries that do not have proper female representation. I am going to start with Princess Adebisi, I feel that you should share your story on what made you decide to run for governorship because considering your initial background as a banker, I feel like it will be right for me to say that you love the financial world. What was the driving point for that made you decide that it is time to do more and not just bank? It is wonderful to be successful in the financial world. It is another thing for you to want to help the society to become better. What inspired you to take up the mantle to lead?
Princess Adebisi: Thank you very much producer. A lot of things actually took me into the line of politics. Like you rightly said, I have been a white collar worker, I have been in the finance world but when my bank was forcefully taken over because, that’s the way I will put it and we had to be retired before our time, there is still this heat that is in me that is unfulfilling and from that singular act we wrote to the respective organs of government from the state where I was up to the federal level and it appears that nothing was forthcoming and I felt, I mean this is a daylight robbery. How can this go on in our financial system and people who are in government cannot even do a thing? As at the day that we were retired, when I joined my bank, it was just four branches all through Nigeria. They had one in Lagos, Island, Apapa, Kano and Port Harcourt. The day we were relieved of our duties, 32 management staff in an establishment that is a Number 4 bank in this country because these are the situations that has led Nigeria to where we are now and we understand these things and it is better that we learn from these experience of downfall because it’s like we kept more mistakes and when I say that, I mean people in government muddling up this country and for those who are still straight and cannot do their manipulations are honestly a storm in a teacup. As at the day we were relieved of our duties, my bank had 86 branches and I know how many of those branches I went to commission with the top management staff. Because as at that time, I was in the control office. Aside from that when we were doing mass recruitment, I was in the training school and I know the uncountable number of management staff that I trained with others at the bank’s training school. Aside from that, that bank had almost 5000 staff, a number 4 bank in this nation, it is grounded now. In the last 20 years plus now, a lot of the building of this bank are idle. Some are being sold through the backdoor but the prominent ones are lying fallow unused. Be that as it may, those are part of the igniting fire that is in me to say look, the people that seems to be ruling this nation don’t understand the depths and the implications of then misrule that is going on in this country. I was troubled in my system, when I left the bank, I began business by doing export. I was the first Nigerian to export vegetable from this country to Europe. Another person that does it is from Cameroon. But why did it happen the way it happened that I can continue and when I export, I bring back the foreign exchange through my bank nobody was helping me. I was just able to gather up all that I could gather, dispose of some few assets that I had like my stock and shares and start this business but behold, NEPA killed the business and these are the antecedents of the wrath that are brewing in people’s minds. People who are not known to be lazy. People who God talented with a lot of ideas and when you have ideas that you cannot birth, you begin to get troubled. So I decided to help from the grass root to see how we can, at least my State (Lagos) manage this nation so that what is happening does not continue because I cannot see anything better. I was disturbed for the upcoming generation because you see, experience is one of the things that you do not rid fully. We need people who will mentor the next generation to pass on the torch and when they begin to rusticate the middle management people in this nation, I knew that this country is heading for disaster. Initially I was to start from the local government area, I wanted to be the Local Government Chairman because I know that is the place to reach the grass root. We were to do an election when all of a sudden Lagos State with 20 local governments was increased to 57 (20 local and 37 LCDA) and they decided, one man decided to disrupt the set up in Lagos. I am not saying Lagos is not due for more than 57 local governments to take government to the people effectively but please for goodness sake, go through it the proper way. From Lagos House of Assembly, present your case to the National Assembly. Lobby and follow up because states that are not doing as much as Lagos is doing, they have more local government than Lagos state and allocation of funds are done per local government. If you don’t carve out your local governments and put them in a way where better needs can reach the people quickly, of course you’ll be losing out. They however bypassed all the procedures and one person in his council in Lagos divided Lagos into 57 local governments and it became impossible to have the election and they handpicked people that will be leaders of those local governments. I mean capital crimes have been brewing and digesting in this nation for quite some time and nobody seems to be able to do anything.
Sola: Hmm… understanding what you are saying now…
Princess Adebisi: …This was why I now said okay, let’s go for governorship because people that are in government, it is not that they are better than one is or they are exposed than one is. I mean, forget the fact that people still have in their heads that you are a woman, you can’t do it. They must be dreaming; they are out of this world. Nobody plays on gender or femininity as to governance and accountability and we know that there are many nations in the world who has been ruled by women and there are still some that are being ruled by women. Even in Africa we have women who rule nations and you see the hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world and with the number of population in the country are like 52% of the population and you are saying that you are going to mud slim their mouths, you are not going to give them a voice. The nation will never get there.
Sola: Okay, following what you have been saying, you are driven by the corrupt state of things from the financial world and you decided that the only way for you to make impactful change was for you to go into governance. I love the fact that you have been driven by is that you are doing the right thing and you have not allowed the fact that you are a woman deter you from taking this nation to a better place. This is the kind of thing we want women to see. These are attributes we want women to carry on and use it to shape their future. It is amazing that you have these features already. You do not allow the fact that you are a woman to deter your goals and hinder you to push for what is right but we need all these attributes that are embedded in you to be embedded in other women. So how exactly will you advise other women? What will you tell other women out there for them to be able to get to your level because not every woman can we actually say have this level of confidence? Have this level and drive to push for the right thing for good in the state and in the nation as a whole. Some women do not know that it is within their rights to demand for good governance and accountability.
Princess Adebisi: Women from most of the discussions we have had not only with my women folk, but men are that when we are ready, we will stand up for ourselves. One of the things that is a bit disturbing is that a lot of our women are just blinded. They don’t have confidence in themselves and they don’t believe that a woman should be there, and we have this ‘women-women’ thing. It’s got to just go away. What I mean is that a lot believe that men have to be worshipped. In fact, they have gotten some knowledge imbibed in them that they are entertainers when it comes to politics. Once they give them free Ankara of 6 yards here and there and give them peanut money, they sew and they follow, follow and they give them head tie. It goes beyond this. One of the things that women need to know is that we birth both men and women and a man no matter how big he is, is a son of a woman, a woman no matter how little she is, is the daughter of a woman. The fact remains, what is the tomorrow of our children? What preparation are we making as women for the next generation? Because part of the God-given role of a woman is to be a helper to man and also male and female, God has created us to bring out our best. We have had women even in the book of Sage like Deborah who has led her country Golda Meir in Israel who has been prime minister of that great nation. We need to mentor one another. Women must be prepared to learn from other women who know more than them. The slogan of ‘I can always find my way’ who are you among over 50 or 100 million Nigerian women that you cannot work together with other women.
Sola: Now speaking of working together, there is this narrative that says that women do support each other and based on that fact it has become a barrier for women that actually want to make change because when your fellow women do not support you, trying to go into governance and make things right, that actually deters your goals and considering the fact that women are majority of the population, so what is your say on that narrative?
Princess Adebisi: Well, that is exactly part of the things I am trying to say. The fact remains that if you don’t support your fellow woman, you aren’t going anywhere and the future of your children are also standing with a question mark (?). The earlier we begin to understand the issues at stake the better for us as mothers. The tomorrow of future Nigerian women is a stake. As it is now, because everything that used to work well has stopped working.
Sola: Ijeoma, you represent a non-profit organisation that with a goal to put the women folk out there. What exactly is your objective, your primary goal as an organisation?
Ijeoma: Our vision basically is to give African women and girls the tools and the resources that they need to fulfil their potential. So whatever you want to do and be as an African woman and girl, you will not experience obstacles if you are given the right education, the resources and networks in order to do those things. We do these in two ways by advancing the narratives and improving the realities of women and girls. On the advancing narratives part, it is great that Princes Ogunsanya is here. We had a round table for women in politics that was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and it was basically about looking at the 2019 election. These election, there were some positives and some negatives. Looking at Lagos, there were how many candidates?
Princess Adebisi: There were 46 candidates for governorship position in Lagos and amongst them for the first time, we had 6 females that came out. Well out of the 6, I came first. In spite of the fact that a lot of our votes were manipulated, maligned and the reasons are obvious, we don’t have the finance to have people at the polling booth that will take care of our interest fully. It will cost 140 million. I mean these are facts that are being hidden, that are not coming out and these are the people who have not given… I will come to my gender now even though it is everybody. The incumbent people in government who have not created the level playing ground for others. And there is no way of getting out of this hurdle unless there is an electronic voting process where people can go in and discharge their fundamental human rights in democracy without any harassment from anybody.
Sola: Alright, back to you Ijeoma, the AWB shares a commitment with reshaping narratives about African Women and Girls. How has it been reshaping such narratives?
Ijeoma: So far, it is step by step. Our concern is ensuring that African women are included in global conversations that we have adequate representation. We are looking at politics now. In Nigeria, we only have 5% female representation in governance compared to Rwanda that has reached 61%, South Africa 50% female representation. We want to be at least 50% because we are more in population. Even just the political sphere in governance we need that increase in representation for women. Globally as well, when the west talk about African women, they tend to talk about us like a case study. Women who are to be pitied as if our issues are not connected to them. So we are saying NO! Don’t talk about us, let us talk about ourselves. Let us represent ourselves so that you can hear who we really are and have an understanding of our narrative. We talk about our own issues for instance, how does the climate change affect African women, how does the global financial crisis affect African women. That is also what we are promoting to help African women find their voices and be heard.
Sola: I have a little question for you. There are a lot of initiatives that has to do with orientating or teaching women about their right and the things they need to do in the society to give the female gender more power and voice in the decision making process of any state. What are the challenges that you have come across on your journey so far with AWB?
Ijeoma: I will say the biggest challenges are the, I don’t want to call it the misogynistic and patriarchy. There are so many traditional mind-set that needs to be broken because traditional mindsets do not always favour women, or they tend to put women in a box. Those are the challenges that we have but we see though that there is an eagerness among young women to advance themselves despite those mindsets. We have like six focus areas where we channel our resources.
Women in leadership, women in politics is part of that.
Financial literacy and Inclusion which is a very big conversation that is going on about how you can ensure that African women have access to financial institutions and services. We are also looking at Girls in STEM, educating them. This is very important as it is playing a very big role in how nations are advancing. When you have more women and girls in STEM, you are helping to solve problems at a local level and global level.
Sports is also in our line of focus because sports have the ability to break gender barriers when done right.
There is clean energy which is something I don’t think we are taking seriously enough here in Africa especially Lagos. We are not taking clean energy seriously enough here. We need to start addressing it now because Africa will be the hardest hit should this global warming that everyone is warning about is not corrected in time
Finally, Arts, we focus on women in arts and empower women through arts
We are chanelling our energy in these areas so that women can realise their potential and rise to the challenge in building the nation through those avenues.
Sola: Since our time is far spent, I am going to ask you about your final words on the radio show today. I am going to start with Princess Adebisi
Princess Adebisi: Women are to be properly involved in politics because politics is life. Everything we do is connected to politics remembering that we are to leave a legacy for the future generation. They should ensure that they update themselves and keep abreast of situations and also have a conviction. They should not be afraid. They must not be afraid of taking bold steps. They can do it and they can do it better.
Sola: Alright, those are wise words from Princess Adebisi. Over to you Ijeoma.
Ijeoma: Thank you. Just to continue encouraging women to go into politics. They can start now. They don’t have to wait until election is around the corner. Women enter into politics because they want to change the status quo. Just as Princess Adebisi narrated her story. She did not enter into it as a money making venture, she entered it because she saw problems in the society that she wanted to change and that is the testimony of women across the board. They enter into politics because they feel where it pinches and they feel that they can correct these problems. You see that marginalised people also have ideas. They have ideas because they know where the problems are and how to address them. We are encouraging women wherever you are, if you see something in the society that you can address, you can run for office or assist other women who are running for office. Let us build that coalition of women. Let us create that unity so that in the next election, we will go beyond 5% representation, we will get used to the idea of having women leaders. We will show the how effective women leaders are because we do bring a fresh perspective to leadership.
Sola: Nice words, Ijeoma. Princess Adebisi how has Wikipedia helped you in your research works?
Princess Adebisi: It has helped me to see the performances of people who have been able to confront their challenges. It also leaves a room for you to register your efforts when you think you have made some. It is a legacy of facts that other people can tap into that could encourage them to take bolder steps.
Sola: Alright, Thank you very much. Ijeoma, how has Wikipedia helped you in your research work?
Ijeoma: It is readily available, it is easy to use and it is updated regularly. It is research that continues. You know that you are going to get the latest research and information when you use Wikipedia and I will just state as a matter of fact that AWB we also have a partnership with WikiMedia Nigeria. We are trying to train young women to become Wikipedia editors to create more profiles of African Women on Wikipedia. It is a wonderful partnership and we are just amazed by the things that WikiMedia Nigeria is doing.
Sola: Alright, what do you think about the Wiki Loves Women initiative?
Ijeoma: I think it is about time, we need to celebrate the achievements of women. In particular, African Women, I cannot stop stressing African women enough. This is because we have contributed a lot to the continent. People either do not know these achievements or it is not documented. By the time it is documented for others to see, it is those stories that inspires other women to do the same. When we see women breaking barriers and achieving what they have achieved, it inspires you to try and follow suit. So I think, it is a great initiative.
Sola: For people out there who want to reach you, what are your social media handles or where they can reach you on?
Ijeoma: our website is www.africanwomenonboard.org Instagram: @AWB.Network Twitter: @AWBAfrica
Sola: Alright Princess Adebisi?
Princess Adebisi: Twitter, IG and Facebook is @adebisiogunsanya
Sola: Alright, it is amazing having the both of you on Wiki love women today and I feel that we have been able to pass very vital message to women out there who feel that it is within their rights to demand for good governance, accountability and gender balance.