By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
A former AttorneyGeneral and Commissioner for Justice in Ondo State, Mrs. Jumoke Ajasin-Anifowoshe is the last child of the late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, the first elected governor of Ondo State.
A politician who believes politics should be a game played with decorum, she is an active and loyal member of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). A widow with three achieving grown-up children, Chief Ajasin-Anifowoshe shared with Vista Woman her reasons for going into politics, how she has fared and how she aspires to chair ACN in Ondo State. Enjoy.
I grew up at Owo, my local government area of origin, where I had my primary school education before going to Oyo State for my secondary school education. After that, I went to study Law at the University of Ife which is now the Obafemi Awolowo University.
Upon graduation, I went to the Law School, and after that, I did my NYSC at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice. My set was actually the second set of lawyers to go for the National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC). After serving, I worked briefly at the Federal Ministry of Justice before going to join a firm, S.P.A Ajibade & Co. in Ibadan as a Managing Partner. After a year, I got married and moved down to Lagos with my husband, Sunday Anifowoshe, of blessed memory. There, I joined the Federal Mortgage Bank.
I established my own law firm in 1981.
Why I’m into politics
The urge to go into politics has always been in me because I was born into politics. My father was a politician and I grew up to know him as one. I also saw the way he comported himself, and the tenacity and honesty with which he played politics, without even looking at it from the financial aspect.
This attracted me to politics. I say this because even when the army took over again from the civilians in December 1983, my father was detained and tried in different tribunals including in Lagos and Ibadan. At the end of the day, he was not found guilty of any embezzlement whatsoever.
Even after being cleared, he was still held in detention until General Babangida came into power and showed mercy. That was when he got released. But that did not stop him from continuing with what he was doing at that time as a politician. He was like one of the promoters of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) at that time.
His total involvement in politics affected my personality. He believed in the masses, and always ensured they were allowed to air their views. I learnt from him that no matter the situation, once you are on the right path, and you are honest and committed, you will be able to pull through and you will have an edge over others who are thinking of their comfort as their priority.
He was the voice of the people, and he was very committed. That, in a way, has affected my way of life and my relationship with people. I am not saying that it is only in politics that you can help people; the way you do things ethically in your profession can also affect lives. But in Nigeria, it is like if you are not there at the level of the policy-making, you will hardly be able to make any contribution.
My quest for change
There are certain things that you cannot get done without being in power; you have to be in a position where you will be heard if you must make certain contributions. I want things to change because the state of affairs in the country now is not the best.
We are all complaining, but who is doing what? What are we doing as individuals to correct all these anomalies which we keep complaining about everyday? We cannot leave politics for those who are there only for their own interests or for the sake of the money! See the amount our legislators are earning everyday; N1 million per day! How many days do they sit in a week?
Meanwhile, there are millions of people who cannot even afford one single meal per day! So, where on earth is this being done? Which country is going through this, apart from Nigeria?
We have read in the papers about how much the President of America and the Prime Minister of UK earn. We have heard how much presidents earn all over the world, but we are just going berserk with this idea of amassing wealth.
We have teachers and doctors that are not being paid regularly, and people are in one corner amassing so much wealth! Where are we going to in this country? So, these are some of the reasons that are agitating some of us to go into politics and see how we can make things right.
I formerly joined politics in 1998. Over the years, I’ve been a party local government chairman in Lagos State under Alliance for Democracy (AD), I have been a Senatorial District party chairman in Ondo State and I have been a deputy party state chairman too in Ondo State, under AD.
At present, I’m contesting for the position of party chairman in Ondo State under the Action Congress of Nigeria-ACN(formerly AD and then AC). We are four contesting for the position; myself and three men, but I’m not deterred. I don’t think my vision and mission should die with me just because I’m a woman; no way!
My plan is to make ACN in Ondo State, a party that will be reckoned with; a party that will take into consideration men and women, young and old, that are in the party. I want to ensure everybody has a sense of belonging. Of course, I will also work hard to raise funds for the party by convincing my friends and well-wishers to support its activities in Ondo State, and make the party very visible.
Nigerian women and politics
Even with the many disadvantages against women in politics, I think Nigerian women are faring well in politics. We have not got near the 35 per cent Affirmative Action at all, but nevertheless, with the level of political activities in Nigeria since independence, I think women have tried more than even the women in developed countries. We have seen the first set of women in politics like Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Chief Margaret Ekpo, etc.
With each political era, we have seen that women keep increasing in the different tiers of government.For instance, in Obasanjo’s administration, we saw that by the second term, the women had increased in the National Assembly! In this present National Assembly, the number has also increased! So, I’m sure that by next year, the number will increase from the current 30 something to about 50 because all over the federation, there is this awareness that women must support one another and not allow the men to have it all.
To discourage male chauvinism and to prevent men from hindering women from participating effectively in politics, I would advise that we women should always try to balance issues. When we’re talking about women issues, we should remember that we have the men too because they are our brothers and sons, and that they too have their own issues.
This way, women will always be allowed to participate well in politics. Otherwise, the men will continue to find a way of stopping us from participating effectively in politics.”