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Orelope-Adefulire: A woman of grace @ 61


By Desmond Utomwen/Abuja

IT was Andrew Robertson, a renowned soccer legend that once made the statement: “I’ve never wanted to be a poster boy, but if I’m going to be a poster boy for anything, it should be this. If you don’t give up, and if you carry on believing in yourself when others are doubting you, you can make it.”

Perhaps this best sums up the life of Princess Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs).

For the former Deputy Governor of Lagos State and two-time Commissioner of Women Affairs, the path to the political top was never an easy route to travel. Indeed, it was a rough path in a tough terrain, which until her trailblazing sojourn, was only travelled by the men folk. She became the first female lawmaker in Lagos State in 1992, when she was elected into the State House of Assembly and effectively kick-starting her political journey.

As a little girl, Princess Adejoke despite being born into a royal family of Prince Kareem-Laka of Akeja Oniyanru and Amore Ruling Houses of Lagos State, was without an iota of hope in furthering her educational pursuit beyond the school due to her late father’s erroneous but staunchly held position that affording a girl child the opportunity of formal education beyond that level was a waste as she would eventually end it all up in a man’s kitchen.

But God kept her through His amazing grace and with sheer determination, she crossed that Rubicon to attain that lofty height, with achievements never expected, anticipated and dreamed of. She braced the odds, surmounting obstacles to ride on an unusual turf; conquered the limits to reach for the summit.

Born as the 3rd in a row of 13 children, and the first girl after two boys in a typical polygamous setting, Princess Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire literally fought her way through a fiercely competitive, volatile environment to secure a fragile gender recognition and social acceptance.

She attended Salvation Army Primary School, Agege, stayed out of school for one full year before ‘God’s merciful nature of timely intervention’ got her back on track to complete her secondary school education at the St Joseph’s Secondary School, Mangoro, in the Ikeja Local Government of Lagos State.

After a brief stint as an accountant to her father’s thriving business concerns, she served briefly as Front Office Executive at PZ Industries (Nigeria) PLC. She bagged a Diploma in Social Work and Honours degrees in Sociology.

By God’s infinite mercy and grace, she was able to convert every limiting obstacle or menacing barricades into stepping stones for advancement unto greatness, either in the public service where she served with recorded achievements as Honourable Member, Lagos State House of Assembly in the third republic; Members, Lagos State Electoral Commissions, Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Women Affairs, Poverty Alleviation, or ultimately as the Deputy Governor of Lagos State. She climbed further to secure the appointment as the Senior Special Assistant to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In her quest for survival, Princess Victoria Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire left footprints in the sand of times, with her inspirational marks remaining indelible and worthy of emulations by all. Apparently influenced by her background, she has dedicated her life to the service to humanity.

Indeed, her goodness is evident for she has the milk of human kindness flowing in her heart as exemplified by her sense and devotion to serving humanity. She is quite extraordinary, passionate, hardworking, tolerant, devoted, observant, diligent and committed to serving humanity with all her God given talents and every ounce of energy it has pleased providence to endowed her with. To the vulnerable, her words are soothing and her acts comforting. Bit by bit, the Iya Alaanu; a kind hearted and cheerful giver laid foundations for their protection and sustained welfare. Today, many can walk because you helped them to their feet. Today, many can sing songs of joy because she gave them a voice when they had none.

As an accomplished public servant, administrator, consummate grassroots politician and an advocate of the rights of the girl-child, their education and full development over the years, Princess Orelope-Adefulire has implemented many women economic empowerment programmes. She co-sponsored the Child Right’s Law as well as the Domestic Violence Law as a Commissioner of Women Affairs in Lagos State.

Her impeccable achievements are also evident in her unwavering commitment to chat a strategic pathway for the attainment of the SDGs and her passion to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable. An act that earned her a re-appointment as the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs) by President Muhammadu Buhari in his second term (in 2019).

It was also in this discernibly but bold move that she signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU with the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), in October 2017, to help foster conducive atmosphere for Goals 16 & 17 of the 2030 Agenda which encouraged partnership for the implementation and achievement of the development framework. Her resolute commitment is not in doubt having served in various positions in the past, she said, ‘my experience as a commissioner and deputy governor in Lagos State revealed monumental oppression, deprivation and wholesale abuse of the underprivileged, the indigent and vulnerable group. This arises simply because of lack of social financial capacity to protect and enforce rights when trampled upon. The situation is even worse due to prevailing economic environment. This is one of the motivating factors for partnership to provide opportunity for stakeholders to come together to mitigate, defend and protect the vulnerable segment of the society’.

For close followers and associates of the presidential Aide, it is easy to through her service to humanity discover the true meaning of “rising by lifting others” and that service to man is actually service to God almighty.

On this special day of her 61st birthday one can only pray for God’s glory to overshadow every obstacle that limits.

  • Desmond Utomwen is an Abuja based journalist and publisher of FreshNEWS Online

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