By Femi Salako
The aphorism that says behind every successful man is a great woman has truly not only found confirmation, but manifestation as well in the life, person and activities of Arabinrin Betty- Anyanwu Akeredolu, the first lady of Ondo State and wife of Arakunrin Rotimi Odunayo Akeredolu.
She is undoubtedly an inspiring model of support and a solid pillar behind her husband. She has left no one in doubt of her determination to go the extra miles in ensuring that her husband attains desired success. Mrs Akeredolu surprised many people in the run up to the 2016 gubernatorial election that brought her husband to office by turning herself into an emergency political canvasser. She did very well in this role with her successful enlistment of the support of nearly all Ondo State residents that are of Igbo extraction for her hubby, Rotimi Akeredolu.
The vibrant first lady in whose veins kindness flow and whose heart can best be described as being laced with gold and diamond. Sooner had her husband been sworn into office in February 2017 that she introduced her BRECAN Project to the state. It must be noted that BRECAN is an independent Non Governmental Organization that was founded in 1997 and introduced to Ondo State when Mrs Akeredolu became the first lady. The project is to fight against breast cancer and create more awareness about the disease in all nooks and crannies of Ondo State. She has been most passionate about the BRECAN Project because she is a living survivor of breast cancer herself.
Mrs Akeredolu has thus far taken her gospel of breast cancer awareness to all communities in Ondo State as well as several other states in Nigeria and a couple of foreign nations. She has so far been able to rouse awareness amongst women about the reality of breast cancer, the challenges and underscored the fact that the sickness is not a death sentence. She has also been able to create awareness of available options of medical treatments as well as other alternatives treatments of the disease. It is noteworthy to emphasize the fact that some lives have already been saved though the awareness created by the BRECAN Project.
The Ondo State First Lady has also floated the Forum for Wives of Ondo State Officials (FOWOSO) with the primary objectives of developing and executing programmes that will build human capacity in young and old women of the Sunshine State. FOWOSO according Mrs Akeredolu also stands for and equally creates equal opportunities for women of the state so as to prepare them to take charge when called upon. At the inauguration of FOWOSO, Mrs Anyanwu-Akeredolu said, “ We aim to stand for advocacy and create equal opportunity for women in the state and ensure they are prepared to take charge when called upon.”
Amongst the objectives of FOWOSO is the need to urgently address the issue of low representation by women in position of real authority and decision-making. She nonetheless lamented the fact that the impact of women had regrettably been restricted to the home front and limited to social and domestic value for many years. The FOWOSO initiative has so far helped to empower many women through skill acquisition and quite a lot of empowerment materials have been given out to women through the initiative.
The outreach programme of FOWOSO has so far been held in all the 18 local government areas of Ondo State. Testimonies have also been coming from women that are already trained on different skills like shoe making, bag making, bead making, soap making and production of other household items. Successfully trained women across the state have so far been given starters packs and empowerment kits such as laptops, sewing machines, hair dryers, grinding machines, wheelchairs and cash gifts.
Another life impacting initiative of Arabirin Akeredolo is the BEMORE Summer Boot Camp Programme for young girls. Free skill acquisition trainings such as solar energy, ICT and other life changing ones are being offered to young girls through the BEMORE programme. Another life impacting initiative of the Ondo First Lady is the Accelerated Birth Registration, otherwise known as the ‘Olori Connection’. Children that are born in Ondo State, especially in rural areas are given the opportunity of accessing birth registration through this initiative.
Perhaps one of the most important life impacting initiatives of Mrs Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu is the
SOLAYO programme. Complete maternity delivery kits have made available ‘free of charge’ to needy and expectant mothers in the whole of Ondo State. This initiative is primarily aimed at continuously providing succour for expectant mothers that are resident in the Ondo State and to also put smiles on their faces.
Aside the many lives already impacted positively by Mrs Akereolu, she has also brought honour and dignity to the office of Ondo First Lady. Her conducts since becoming the first lady has not in any way fallen short of Inspiring others and being worthy of emulation. She has been standing solidly behind her husband like a rock of Gilbrater and ensuring that the administration led by Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu is driven by human face, delivery of democratic dividends and overall development of Ondo State.
Her Excellency, Betty – Anyanwu Akeredolu is worthy of commendation for her success as a dutiful wife, mother and grandmother. She has succeeded in combining these responsibilities with that of her office as the first lady of Ondo State. She is above all, a model of a good and virtuous wife who has supported her husband through thick and thin and also inspired the governor into achieving giant developmental and transformational strides.