By Debo Ikuesewo – Akinbami

The preface belongs to Betty. The subject also is Betty’s, coincidentally. I write, foremost, of Betty Mould-Iddrisu, a Ghanaian lawyer and foremost politician. Betty Mould-Iddrisu was the Minister for Education in Ghana. She was also Ghana’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice, the first woman to serve in this capacity in Ghana. Of her learnings in leadership on the African continent and the sundry hitches women have to defeat to reach – and stay – atop, Mould-Iddrisu offered the succeeding impression.

“There is a harsh reality about women’s leadership in Africa. I have dreamt it and lived it. Gradually, women are penetrating historical barriers that have up till very recently been closed to us, barriers that limited women’s attainment of the highest levels of power and leadership in important sectors of society. Daring to aspire or reaching heights that very few women have attained can be remarkably fulfilling, but also revealing – with mixed experiences, unique perspectives and at times come with inexplicable disappointments. I have the laurels and scars to show for my leadership journey.”

Betty Mould-Iddrisu, who served as Director of Legal and Constitutional Affairs for the 54 member nations Commonwealth Secretariat, has been a leading voice on gender equality in Africa for over 30 years.
This enigmatic Mould-Iddrisu, apart from sharing nominal similarly with Nigeria’s Betty Anyanwu-akeredolu, also has her passion. The two women leaders have tremendous passion for empowering the new generation of African women and professionals. They both speak and seek, earnestly, women emancipation and gender justice.

As a matter of fact, the revealing rendition given by Mould-Iddrisu delivers a mirror portrait of what Betty Anyanwu-akeredolu represents, and to far extents, her encounters and experiences. While the motivation may be the same for these illustrious figures, the political climate and culture may not be exact. Yet, like Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Nigeria’s Betty Anyanwu-akeredolu has since raised the bars, offered massive shoulders for womenfolk to lean on and delivered consequential distinctions through her various humanitarian interventions.

There is no debating the political angle and perception to Betty Anyanwu-akeredolu’s works, which is due, largely, to her marriage to a politician, the same factor which oftentimes attempts to veil the profundity of her offerings by neglecting, albeit carelessly, the fact that Betty did not begin her benevolence with being in government. Lady Betty has a presence before governorship, and standards too. She has a forceful reputation that arrived earlier than her influence as a governor’s spouse.

Betty, for over two decades, founded the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN). Specifically on October 1997, as a not-for-profit and non-governmental organization. The association which moves with a mission to eliminate breast cancer as a life threatening disease in Nigeria through public education, patient support, advocacy and research has been a leading forte. This invaluable intervention has since been saving lives and sensitizing the Nigerian public. Even now, the cancerous threat, hitherto discussed in hushed tones has gained palpable public attention.

As First Lady, Betty dared to place the womenfolk on new rungs through novel activities. In so delivering, Betty built BEMORE, a database initiate in favour of girls and women in Ondo State. This endeavor has since translated to a dumbfounding success story with which army of girls and women in now associate. And through this platform, Mrs. Anyanwu-akeredolu continues to listen and attend to matters bedeviling girlhood and womanhood, supporting and enlightening all regardless of age, faith, social or political inclinations.

The widow care intervention through which reliefs were done to many widows in Ondo state is not only unmatched but rates high in profoundity. Jog for Life, another of Betty’s recondite initiative is fast succeeding in breaking down barriers of secrecy and stigmatisation around ailments. With Betty’s presence, the hitherto prevalent cases of incessant rape has now taken a low tide. Betty daily lifts souls out of rots and encourage them to live even in the face of daunting life’s difficulties. She does all these, gleefully, while being a formidable figure beside governor Akeredolu.

It is small wonder therefore that many have come to accept her weight in favour of womenfolk in Nigeria, and the faithful force that she typifies in the government led by her spouse. The other day, Jimoh Ibrahim, on seeing the luster, applauded Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu on two fronts- supportive role to governor Akeredolu, and beneficial welfarist programmes in Ondo State. Jimoh’s was not the first of commendations. Like Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu has received listless laurels, and scars for doing well, for leading serial wars against the tendencies of dehumanization and domination of womenfolk.

It is to this extent that Ibrahim’s stance, that “No first lady has set the standards of Mrs. Anyanwu-Akeredolu” becomes a consequence. I agree with the supposition that gives Betty out as a positive influence in the drive for growth and emancipation of women, girl child rights and equal opportunities for the less privileged. I do not also doubt the locution that Governor Akeredolu is blessed with a wife who is busy giving voice to women and leading the way out of age-long doldrums.