For very many years, this pretty lady was a law maker in Lagos. And she made a great showing at the Lagos State House of Assembly. The big news that Hon. Omowunmi Olatunji-Edet has just been made a Commissioner in Ondo State. She is the Commissioner for Women Affairs.
Who is this woman, who has managed to combine her political career with being a Pastor. Not too long ago, she spoke with City People about her life. That was before her new job. We present you the story of this pretty and stylish former Lagos Lawmaker, who represented Oshodi/Isolo Constituency II in the Lagos House of Assembly for 2 terms.
She is a Christian and became a Pastor in 1988. She is one of the regular Pastors, at the House of Assembly Chapel.
You are known to be a strong Christian as well as a strong female politician. What inspired you into politics?
I attribute everything to God, The greatest thing that can happen to man is to know God. I met with Jesus in 1999, when I had a personal encounter with him. Though, I used to be a nice Christian, who lives a normal life, I would go to church, read Bible, but did not really get to the peak of Christianity. There has been this thing about me that I was born for a purpose. Personally, I don’t take ‘No’ for an answer because I believe I am an intercessor, who can make it in life. When I was born, there was this Prophesy about me that I would be great in life. According to the Prophesy, the first, third and most especially the fifth or rather the last born would be great. Few years ago, when I was appointed a board member, my mum’s first child came back from the US. He told me then that he knew I would be great. He was the one that reminded me of the Prophesy of many years ago. “I tell you, anybody living under the umbrella of Prophesy would surely excel in life. I was always with helpers of destiny. My getting to where I am today has to do with what I call my 5 fingers. I mean I attribute my getting to this position to 5 important personalities. The first of my five fingers is my husband. He was the major person, who drew me into politics. He told me I could function very well outside the church. With that strong vision, he handed me over to his friend, who came out as Chairmanship aspirant, on the platform of the then APP. I came out as a Councillorship aspirant, but lost twice. In 2002, I was presented as a consensus candidate of a party for the Lagos State House of Assembly. As fate would have it, I lost the poll again. It’s God who determines what happens in life. In 2003, Dr. Fredrick Fasheun (OPC leader worldwide), took over the scene and presented me to the then Governor. I call Dr. Fredrick my second finger. My presentation took place through Opeyemi Bamidele, who I call my 3rd finger. He fought very hard and ensured I was a member of his board at the Lagos State Ministry of Sport, Youth and Social Development. While working under his ministry, I started preparing to go into campaign for an elective post. I had built a huge goodwill. I went to Alhaji Mutiu Are (my fourth finger), he told me he knew I could make it, he then took me to Alhaji Ayinde Marshal. Alhaji Ayinde Marshal is God sent. He carried the whole responsibility both financially and in other ways to the extent that he set up a group called Peacock for me. Peacock is well known in Lagos political circle. Anybody who says KWAM 1 is not a politician as at today is decieving himself. He should rather go to him and learn more on how to play politics in the right way. He is my fifth finger.
What were you doing before you ventured into politics?
I once worked as a banker at Satellite Town Community Bank. That I did on I.T. In 1994, I had my first son and that was what made me leave my job. Later, I became a full-time Pastor’s wife as well as running an NGO that takes care of Refugees, I used to go to Ghana camp to see to their well fare. We were giving them food and clothing. They already had shelter, so those two items were the major things, we gave to them. Asides those two, we have some of them for whom we set up a small-scale businesses. After joining politics, I could not concentrate on the NGO fully. I had to shift my concentration from NGO to Politics because I knew I could finance those people with my political career especially through the NGO. I have 3-arm of NGO at the moment. One is a dispensary organisation, which is in partnership with the Ministry of Health. That is yet to be launched. The second arm deals with scholarship programme for junior and senior secondary school categories. The third arm is a microsoft loan project for market women and female politicians as long as you are ready to abide by the rules.
You are a woman in a man’s position, how do you handle this post without problem?
It’s all about calculation. By the virtue of our society, the man is in charge. As a woman, for you to be recognised, you must be ready to act as a man. I am no longer a woman, I realise that the femininity gender is no longer as deep as it used to be. My dream and aspiration is to build some women up to be men as I do at the moment. Everyday of my life I see myself as a man. I go to wherever I am being called with a heart of a man. What I always do is to plead to my hubby to allow me. Sometimes, I attend twelve midnight meeting and the men are always surprised seeing me. I believe I can do it, if a man can do it. I have been led, so I can lead. If you are not a follower, you can’t be a good leader. I have been one before, I served people and also turned to be a maid, when I wanted to go, they blessed me wholeheartedly. Some people believe you have to do something before you can attain a particular stage especially in this field, I did not have to go to a witch doctor to get to where I am. It’s all about positioning, destiny and planning and I tell you, that is what takes me to where I am.
Tell us more about your self?
Omowunmi Olatunji-Edet was born on August 15, 1973 at No. 3 Olopade Street on Lagos Island. I grew up in that area. Later, my father was transferred to Benin in Edo State, where I had half of my primary education before we relocated to Akure, Ondo State. My parents are from Akure, I had my first basic education in the town, I later continued at St. Louis Girls Grammar School. After completing my secondary education, I was admitted into Auchi Polytechnic in Edo State, and because of my youthful exuberance, I had wanted to go to the United States of America (USA). But coming to Lagos again, I met Mr. Edet and that truncated my education at that period. I started having babies; I got married in 1993, when I was just 20 years old. I was so naïve and inexperienced, but I had an understanding of family values because I was raised by a civil servant, who was focused, and wanted to give value to the society.
My father was a general postmaster; he was doing his best working with P&T (post and telecommunications) in those days, which was part of NITEL. I came from a family of nine and I am the last child. I am a mother to many, but I grew up having this understanding that I could do it. When I got married in 1993, I told myself that my education would, not stop although, while I was doing that, I had my diploma in computer science and I went back to theological school and I had a diploma in theology. After that, I went to Kaduna Institute of Teachers. I later obtained a degree in English Language at the Lagos State University (LASU). All these while, I was still having babies, and I am blessed with 3 children. Now, I am a potential grandmother so to say. I later stumbled into politics, which I once regarded as an aberration as a fulltime pastor. I have been a Pastor and planted several churches. I started full time ministry in 1988 as an assistant pastor. I went to a bible school in 1991 and graduated in 1994. I was ordained by Pastor Ben Enoch of Communion Chapel in 1995. God ministered to me to minister to people and I started an NGO through, which I reach the people, the headquarters of the organisation is in Ghana. It was after one of my trips to Ghana that the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) was sensitising Christians to go into politics and I heeded the call, which was what led me into politics.
In 1999, I contested for the post of Councillor, and I lost at the primaries, but I didn’t give up. Again, in 2002, I came out and I lost. Later parties came and one endorsed me as its candidate for the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA) 2003 election, but I lost. All that put together, I lost three elections, and I won two, which were what brought me into LSHA. I have been serving Oshodi-Isolo Constituency 2, since 2007 and my people are happy to identify with me. I live among them and I am one person who can say that I have been able to facilitate several projects in my constituency. My family and my people are proud of me. I have been able to run a good race, but I have not stopped.
As a pastor, I want to know if you have a church of your own?
I do not have a church, you do not need to have a church to be a pastor; I do much evangelical work; I minister, when I am invited. I do have invitations to minister in different churches. Church is people, it is not the building.
How do you combine being a pastor with your political career?
They are both the same. As a pastor, you are dealing with human beings, and as a politician, you are representing People, so both work hand-in-hand. You want to give value to the lives of people, you want to do things that would make people remember you for two things; the problem you create and the problems you solve, I want to solve problem. So, that is the essence of pastoral work and political representation. I am representing people, trying to solve problems.
At the time you went into politics about 10 years ago, what was the attraction?
I went into politics because I felt I have something to offer. This thing is in-built. It’s innate, it’s a trait. If you discover yourself, you will know in which direction to go. I used to tell people that what you don’t discover about yourself nobody will discover it. I discovered that I have this leadership qualities. I am somebody who is so passionate about people. When I identify a need or a problem, I want to solve it. I go all out to make things happen.
Initially, I felt, let me just start at the local government level. I came out for Councillorship. I lost at the primaries. The 2nd appearance too, I lost at primaries, but in 2003 elections I contested. I was in ANPP. It adopted me as a Consensus candidate. That was how I came out in 2003 against the then AD candidate and I lost gallantly at the polls. But I did not allow the fire in me to die. I lobbied until I was compensated with a Board appointment. I served under Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele then, in Youth & Sports Ministry and after 4 years, I came out again in 2007. I contested and I won at the polls.
How I became who I am today is a product of determination. I did not allow the failure of 1999, and subsequent elections to affect me. I was determined to carry it through, despite all the limitating factors, as people came around, saying what is a woman doing in politics.
My message to all aspiring female politicians is to first determine who they are. It starts from within. If you don’t know who you are, you don’t identify your calling, you don’t discover yourself. There is nothing anybody would say that would make you. You are the one to discover yourself. When you discover yourself, every other external things are just to support who you are as you have discovered yourself to be.