Oh Yes! She is. Ask me why?

A FIRELIGHTER raises and empowers future Generations.

This attribute is seen in BEMORE EMPOWERED INITIATIVE FOR GIRLS NAIJA, a two week SUMMER BOOTCAMP initiated by Arabinrin Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu, wife of the sixth executive governor of Ondo State, where over 1500 school girls have been trained on life-enhancing skills, solar technology, ICT, defense tactics against rapists, leadership qualities, among others.

The FIRELIGHTING spirit in her energized her to initiate BEMORE immediately she assumed the office of the First Lady due to her passion to raise female technological leaders in order to change the archaic assumption that relegates female folks and limit them to houseshore and less-tedious tasks, without giving them opportunities to maximize their God-given potential.

For the over three years of the existence of this Summer Bootcamp, lots of the participating girls are now changing the narrative; they have become young entrepreneurs putting into use the skills and the knowledge they acquired.

One of the 2017 set, Tolu Ehinmosan, represented Nigeria at a global solar energy competition and emerged fourth in Iran. Another one, Marvelous Jegede powered her immediate Community in Akoko with a personally built solar panel; many of them generated income to support their families during the covid-19 lockdown through the skills they acquired like making of reusable pads, cakes baking, beads, tying of Gele; infact Artist and Artistes were discovered at the BOOTCAMP.

BEMORE has now spread its tentacle across the shore of Nigeria as many States are beginning to buy into the vision. Last edition had girls from neighboring states, and this year’s edition would be hold in Imo and Ondo States. She’s indeed A FIRELIGHTER which many might not appreciate now, but in the nearest future.

The Forum for Wives of Ondo State Officials and Female Political Appointees, FOWOSO, is another strategy of Her Excellency to empower Women in Ondo State, in terms of WOMEN SUPPORTING WOMEN thing.

Mrs Akeredolu believes that when women are at the decision-making table and are empowered, their focus is on the family; and as we are all aware that families make a Society. Therefore, having good families that produce boys that would become responsible husbands, and girls that would become good wives is a great concern for her.
Through FOWOSO, Mrs Akeredolu are nurturing female politicians, as she always says it’s until enough women join the policy-makers that issues related to women and girls would be given adequate attention. She made wives of political Appointees to be useful to their immediate environment, rather than waiting for their husbands to do everything. The Forum serves as a platform for them to save money, contribute to humanitarianism by helping other women in need.

A FIRELIGHTER hunts and promotes TALENTS

According to John C. Maxwell, there are firefighters who will throw cold water on the fire of passion that burns within you. They keep people from reaching their potential by trying to put out the fire of their passion. But a FIRELIGHTER will go out of their way to help you keep your fire hot. Our today celebrant have discovered so many people which she encouraged and empowered to pursue their dreams. She is not the kind that covers talents but rather bring such to the limelight which is evident in the categories of Aides she’s surrounded with. She doesn’t look down on anyone regardless of Social or religion status. She gives room for people around her to display their abilities, gives voice to many. She’s a rare breed compare to what we experience in our society where the privileged ones and majority of those in leadership positions deter their subordinates from rising, FIGHTING their FIRE of potential and skills from burning.

A FIRELIGHTER shows concern for others, not SELFISH

Some will wish others to have a taste of the bitter experience they have had, rather than saving them from being a victim by sharing their experience as a precaution for others.
Through the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, founded by Mrs Akeredolu 24 years ago following her encounter with breast cancer, many lives have been saved.

According to the slogan of the association, GIVING HOPE, SAVING LIVES many have been rescued from becoming victims of the deadly disease through the awareness Campaign of BRECAN across the breadth and length of Nigeria. BRECAN preaches early detection, encourages Women on routine medical check-up, providing medical assistant to victims of Breast Cancer in order to curb breast cancer mortality rate.

BRECAN says women doesn’t need to die needlessly from breast cancer and have been organising so many advocacy programmes to enlighten the public.

Mrs Akeredolu defeats stigmatisation which is very common in the African society, and come out publicly to declare her status as a breast cancer SURVIVOR. She went further to form another affiliate of BRECAN called TEAM SURVIVOR NIGERIA, TSN. TSN comprises women who had survived the disease and serve as a hope for victims of cancer that it is not a death sentence and shouldn’t allow fear to overpower them after diagnosis, but rather opt for Medical attention.

Considering the high cost of treatment for cancer, which is a major cause of mortality as many couldn’t afford the treatment processes, Mrs Akeredolu initiated Crowd Funding of N200 only to support victims as many have seen BRECAN as a centre of hope; she was bashed with derogatory words, called all sorts of names but by now those who have victims around them who BRECAN have helped, now appreciate her. The noisemakers are muted.

BRECAN has helped to erase the general belief that Cancer is a spiritual attack; Mrs Akeredolu has been charging victims not to ignore medical attention while seeking divine healing. She went further by calling on religious leaders to also join the advocacy being that they’re closer to the people. This is possible because of her selfless and FIRELIGHTING spirit.

A FIRELIGHTER possesses a HEART OF GOLD

As a mother, Mrs Akeredolu knows what it takes to have a safe delivery and to raise children; to ensure that vulnerable women in Ondo State live better, she also initiated SOLAYO and Widow’s Care. Through SOLAYO, pregnant women in the grassroots get free delivery kits, this she does on every occasion meant to celebrate womanhood, like women’s day.

She created a website for registration of widows in the state, and to the surprise of many, it was discovered that over 20,000 widows exist in the state. The Ondo widow’s care, which many described as first of its kind came on board in 2020 through which Mrs Akeredolu distributed the COVID-19 Palliatives. Thanks to this initiative, almost all families in Ondo State benefited in the palliative and this excluded Ondo from states that hoarded palliatives.

She is at the forefront of ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, SGBV.

To achieve this, she had led public protests, even, to the Police Command headquarters; through her Non-governmental Organization, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation, BAAF, this woman with a heart of gold initiated Yellow Card Initiative through which school girls were given a yellow card that contains toll-free numbers to contact in case of violence. She commenced training of School Counsellors across the state to join in the fight against SGBV. She pursued the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, which was recently passed into a Law in Ondo State. She adopted some children and girls who are victims of violence.

Our Most Outstanding First Lady of Ondo State clocks 68 today, but still acts like under 40. She’s nick-named MAMA DIGITAL, because despite her age, she’s very active on the internet more than some modern young wives out there, this is why she was able to discover some talents and bring them to the limelight.

She’s still a teacher, editor, fish and honey farmer; energized and full of strength to give attention to every necessary issue around her; no dull moment with her; not biased; not partial. She’s religious than the religious because of her straightforwardness in dealing with issues and people. Christlike than the church-goers because she says it as it should be, not minding if it’s a bitter pill to swallow; truth is always bitter anyway and many detest truth which is why we are still here. May your days be long ma, may your efforts to make the society begin to yield positive results in your lifetime. Happy birthday to our FIRELIGHTER.
Written by Mary Agidi, a FIRE Lighted by Her Excellency, Arabinrin Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu as a Special Assistant on Media to the Governor,
Dated this day, July 20th, 2021.