Mrs Olufunmi Osinowo Basorun is a thorough bred Ikorodu indigene who was raised in Ibadan where she attended St. Anthony Nursery and Primary and United Missionary Primary Schools, Molete, Ibadan , and later attended St. Theresa College and while in form 3, her father retired from active service in Ibadan and relocated to Lagos with her and was enrolled at the Victory High School, Ikeja , before she was later admitted to Imota Community Grammar School, Imota , where she had her School Certificate Examination.
She was a Clerical Officer with the old Ikorodu Local Government and later got admission to School of Nursing, Awolowo Road , where she obtained a Registered Midwife Certificate. After her certification, she started working with the Unified Local Government Service. Mrs Basorun obtained several certificates through in-service trainings.
After Midwifery, she went for General Nursing and late acquired the Community Health Officer Certificate. She also bagged Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Post Graduate Diploma in Social Work at the Lagos State University, Ojo. She also bagged Masters Degree in Social Work from Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH).
She was an exco member of the Alliance for Democracy in Ikorodu at the advent of the new democratic experience, represented Lagos East at the 2014 National Conference in Abuja and she is a member of the APC Apex committee in Ikorodu Division.
In this interview with the Publisher/Reporter-in-Chief, THE IMPACT Newspaper, Kunle ADELABU, she bore her mind on women’s contributions to political, social and economic developments in Ikorodu, recognition of women in politics, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s appointment in relation to Ikorodu and her challenge to men in doing more to project their women. Excerpts:
IMPACT: As a thoroughbred Ikorodu woman, what have been your social and political engagements in the community over the years?
Mrs Basorun: Right from my days as a Clerical Officer with the old Ikorodu Local Government, I became actively involved in community service which led to my membership of the Youth Wing of the United Party of Nigeria (UPN) back then. All my life, I have worked at the community level. After my graduation from the school of midwifery, I was posted to Ikorodu Local Government to work at the Primary Health Care which was the lowest level of interaction with the community as a health officer. Also, after attending School of Nursing, I still came back to Ikorodu and I was only away from Ikorodu after the State Government had some review in the service and officers from Level 14 and above were moved to the state level. That was the time that I was moved to the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
IMPACT: At what level and year did you retire from the service?
Mrs Osinowo: I retired from service in 2013 and I retired as the Deputy Director, Health Education, Ministry of Health. I was in-charge of monitoring and evaluation of HIV Programmes.
IMPACT: You mentioned that you were an active youth member of the then UPN, since that time , what has been your political engagement?
Mrs Osinowo: After the politicians were sent packing by the military, I had to face my civil service career. I came back into active politics during the advent of Alliance for Democracy. I was a member of the party’s executive committee in Ikorodu and ever since, I have not broken my political trajectory. I moved with the progressives from AD to AC, ACN and APC and I was always active.
IMPACT: You were known to have represented Ikorodu at the state and national levels as delegates and in other capacities. Can you shed more light on this?
Mrs Osinowo: I was part of the Local Government executives when this new democratic experience started in 1999. I am also one of the apex leaders in the division and also represented the Lagos East Senatorial District at the 2014 National Conference in Abuja. Ever since, I have been contributing to the development of the party in Ikorodu, Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. Right now, I am one of the members of the Apex body of the APC in Ikorodu Division and also a member of the advisory committee to the Chairman, Ikorodu Local Government.
IMPACT: Let’s look at the social, economic and political developments of Ikorodu, how will you place the roles of women in terms of participation?
Mrs Osinowo: In terms of participation, I will rate Ikorodu women 90%, but you know that in politics, your participation does not determine what you get. Ikorodu is basically a patriarchal community. It becomes a very big challenge for a woman to really excel or be noticed in this kind of arrangement. That’s a major challenge that has been confronting us. It has been a major challenge to get recognition for whatever role that you have been playing if you are a woman in a community like ours.
For community service, I belong to some community organizations like Conference of Leaders for Ikorodu Division, Lions Club, Ikorodu Forum, IBILE forum and many others that I would not want to mention.
IMPACT: What is your advice , as one of the very few women who have been recognized to a certain level in politics , for ladies or women who are also willing to come into politics?
Mrs Osinowo: I will advise that they should be focused, be themselves without any pretense and should always make up their minds on whatever they actually want and how they want to achieve their dreams. Like the English saying, “A golden fish has no hiding place”, people will eventually recognize their capabilities and treat them the way they are supposed to be treated.
IMPACT: Looking at Ikorodu and the contributions of women politically, socially and economically, would you say that they have been duly recognized?
Mrs Osinowo: Hmmmmmm (deep breath) , I will not say so because like I said earlier, Ikorodu women have not been adequately projected by their fathers and others and it is not so for other women in other divisions. If you look at other divisions, you will see how fathers and brothers are projecting their women and placing them in position of influence, power and authority. In Ikorodu, we are not been projected and this has been a major problem confronting women.
IMPACT: It has been two years since the current local government administration across Ikorodu Ikorodu Division came into existence, how will you rate the performances of the council chairmen so far?
Mrs Osinowo: The rating is high in term of performances, especially for the chairman of Ikorodu Local Government because if you look at it, his predecessor didn’t achieve much despite huge resources at his disposal but the present administration is doing greatly with lesser resources. Generally, if you look at the six of them, they are performing to the best of their abilities and available resources. In my own council, Ikorodu Local Government, the chairman gives us monthly briefing of his performance at the advisory committee meeting level. From what he has been telling us and which we have found out to be true, he has performed to our expectations but he can still do better.
IMPACT: Aside your political, religious and community engagements, you are also known to be a philanthropist who assist and encourage charity and humanitarian groups. How do you manage this with politics and other activities?
Mrs Osinowo: I said it earlier that you need to be focused to achieve anything. If you are focused, you will be able to manage your time very well. You have to put your philanthropic or service mind in a particular channel and that’s why I belong to the Lions Club International. At the community level, I look out for young people that are enterprising and into charity work like a group that is propagating love for the less privileged and motherless. There is this particular one in Ikorodu, GLOWFUX that organises parties and gift presentation to the less privilege in Ikorodu during Christmas period, I am a matron to that group and I encourage people to support them because the less privileged, orphans and motherless children also need love and care. They don’t have anybody or home except where they have been given shelter. It is important to give to charity because there is nobody that has ever gone poorer for giving.
IMPACT: Talking about women empowerment and recognition, recently, the Lagos State Governor announced Ms Olusanya, the daughter of one of the political leaders in the division. Do you consider this as a proof that women are been duly recognized or just a flash in the pan?
Mrs Osinowo: According to Gov. Sanwo-Olu, he promised to be gender sensitive in the composition of his cabinet and we expected 33% allocation for women in his cabinet. Coming to Ikorodu, the emergence of Ms Olusanya would not be considered as a recognition for women because her appointment might probably be because of her father who happens to be the Chairman of the APC Lagos East Senatorial District. However, it is a plus for us since she is a woman and we will do everything to support her to perform to her maximum ability in order for her to succeed. Whether by chance or God’s will, we have a woman as a Special Adviser representing Ikorodu and we are going to show them the difference between a woman and man holding that position.
IMPACT: What do you think that Ikorodu Division should be doing now considering the frantic agitation by its residents for more representation in the Sanwo-Olu’s cabinet?
Mrs Osinowo: If you look at the results of the last general elections by numbers, Ikorodu had the third highest results for APC and if you base the results on improvement upon the 2015 general elections, Ikorodu is first. So, based on this analysis, we expected that Ikorodu should have been given four or five Commissioners and Special Advisers. But as it is now, need to let the party know that we deserve more than one Commissionership and Special Adviser position in the cabinet.
IMPACT: What is your advice to men that have been ‘preventing’ women from hitting the limelight politically and women that desired going into politics?
Mrs Osinowo: First, for women, they should be themselves, focused and decide what they want and go for it. Whatever it is, once you get yourself prepared for the goal, you’ll get it. And for the men, I will only prick their conscience and tell them to propagate their wives, sisters and daughters. It is only when they do that that they will get the best out of life. Our men should be a little less selfish politically.