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I had no airs as the governor’s daughter

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…Why men in positions of authorities need good wives

By Anino Aganbi

Jumoke Anifowoshe is the forth child of Chief Adekunle Ajasin. Despite the fact that   her father was an astute politician and a one time governor of Ondo state, she has lived a simple life. Read on as she gives Weekend Woman an insight into her formative years.

Early life

I was born into the family of Chief Micheal Adekunle Ajasin and Chief Mrs. Babafunke Ajasin, both of blessed memory. I am a mother of three with grandchildren. I am from Owo, Ondo state. I had my basic education in Ondo and Oyo states and from there; I was admitted into the  University  of  Ife  to study Law in 1970. I was called to bar in 1975. My career in Law saw me working in both the private and public sectors. I was at different times a legal counsel with Lagos  state (NYSC) and the Federal Ministry of Justice. I later worked at the law firm of SPA Ajibade & co before ending up as a legal officer at the Federal Mortgage Bank in 1979.

Being a wife and mother saw me setting up my own practice in 1981 and since then till date, I have held different leadership positions as a lawyer. I have also delved into politics. My foray into politics has been no less eventful. I am also a mediator and an arbitrator.

Jumoke Anifowoshe

What was growing up like?

I grew up in a closely knitted family which comprised of my father, mother and three older siblings. I am the last child of my family. I enjoyed every bit of growing up because I was never in want. I had enough   of everything . I would not say my parents were wealthy but they were rich enough to give me the best of the best at that time.

I had a very good upbringing which I tell people I keep thanking them for even though they have passed away. I enjoyed every bit of growing up, right from primary, secondary to my University education. My parents provided well enough for me that I did not have any regret.

Growing up was beautiful I would say and as at that time, life was peaceful. It is not like these days that you must check around whether it is safe or not for you to go out. You could go out any time of the day and have nothing to fear. My elder brothers and sister acted their part.

I looked up to them during my formative years and they showed me what being an older child should be so I aped them in some of the things I did. Particularly my immediate elder brother whom I was very close to because we were both left behind while the other two went abroad to study. All in all I had a happy childhood which I tried to translate into the way I brought up my children.

As the last child, what were some of the antics you were usually up to?

I would not say I was up to doing much as a child because I knew my place in the family and it was not as if they would push it down my throat that I am the last born and must behave as such. I was kind of on the same page with all of them and that made life interesting and happy for me because there was nothing like seniority kind of attitude. There was mutual respect on all sides.

What was that phase of your life like having your father as the Governor in Ondo state?

I was already   married at that time so there were no airs about being a governor’s daughter. I was in my husband’s house here in  Lagos  so I could count the number of times I visited the state house. It is not now that children of governors feel they are governors themselves. I did not feel any different from any other person on the street. I was myself.

Linking that to the present day, some children who have parents in political offices tend not to be of good behavior. Can you react to that?

I think parents need to check them and tell them how to behave. Just because your parents are lucky to be in a certain position does not mean you should look down on other people in the society because at the end of the day, all these positions have a life span.

If you are a governor, the maximum is 8 years. So parents who are in positions of power and authority must allow their children imbibe a little bit of humility. Putting a face on that you are the daughter of a top politician usually can be counter productive and can affect a lot of things. It can even affect your success.

I won’t blame the children but the parents who are not impacting necessary values in the family. Because it is what they see in the family they take to. If the parents show they are above others then their children will likewise think they are above others.

But if parents make their children understand it is just by luck or God’s grace they are in that position, so their children should mind the way they behave with their friends, others; then the children will check themselves, but if parents don’t allow the children imbibe good values that are paramount in getting them to know that there are two sides to a coin, it can be positive today and become negative tomorrow .

The ball stops on the table of parents. They have to put their children in check. Let them imbibe good manners. Without the parents doing the right thing at home, the children will think they are on top of the world and on top of every body.

What was different with parenting during your father’s time?

During that time parents had more time for their children. I wouldn’t say my father had more time for us because he was not just a principal of a secondary school, he was also a politician but God gave him his wife. My mother was there all the time in a supportive role even though she was a teacher too, a vice principal of a teachers’ training college. With my mother, we imbibed the right attitude to life and were taught how to behave and how to relate with people. Men in positions of authorities need good wives to take care of the home front.

They are more entangled with the business of life than mothers. At that time, I won’t say my father had sufficient time for us but he still had time to sit at the table to eat breakfast and dinner together. That way we were able to have a relationship to interact with my father. When you have the opportunity of eating at the table with your parents, there may be certain things they might want to do and they end up teaching you   to be considerate of others during meal times and not grab everything for yourself. There are a lot of values you would learn at that one hour of eating together. That area of life is different now because now we wake up very early in the morning and we are out of the house. It is the driver who will drop them off at school and pick them up. There is no time as such for modern day parents to sit with their children and have meal times because they want to have the financial muscle to take care of the children.

The oldish days method of parenting is still very attractive to me because when my children were growing up, I made sure I dropped them off at school and collected them after school hours so I could supervise them before going to work. This was why I decided to go into private practice than staying in the ministry where I first started my career.

How were you able to pass down those values you learned to your children?

It was a conscious effort. I knew I was brought up in a certain way and wanted my children to imbibe the values I got from my parents. As I said earlier, I left the government job for my private practice so I would be able to supervise my children and that has paid off. They listen to me because I spent quality time with them. I got used to interacting with them.

I opened up to them and they reciprocated. They knew my problems and I knew theirs. We made sure not to hide anything from each other. Time is of essence in relationships with children and in the process you get to know their strengths and weaknesses.

When my children were growing up, my parents were still alive so they were able to see a bit of my growing up years in my parents anytime they visited home on holiday. Looking back they mention that they are happy they grew up knowing my parents and that their relationship with my parents influenced their view of the world.

To what extent did your father being a politician influence your decision to join politics?

It has always been in me. Seeing that he was very politically active in his days encouraged me. Politics gives you a kind of satisfaction that you are in a place and are able to help people who cannot help themselves. He served his people and served them honestly and dutifully, that had its effect on me.

This was part of the reason why I said if he could help people in so many aspects of life, I was going to try also. This affected my attitude towards people that when one is alive, one should open his/her door to the less privileged. It is when you are in government that you have the wherewithal and I don’t mean financially to help those who need help one way or the other.

He preferred that people should get maximum qualification whether it was educationally or through skills acquisition, you are able to cater for yourself and think outside the box. These are things I saw my father encouraging not only his own children but others to do.

Your career till date…

Law came before politics. I only started becoming active in politics in 1999. Before then I was just on the side; supporting my father and being part of the clapping/ singing group. I was not quite involved in using my brain, talent, every thing. I was just a supporter of UPN (Unity Party of Nigeria)under which my father was governor and being a child during the Action Group era where Chief Awolowo was the leader and we were all shouting his name then, as the leader of the most prominent and progressive party at that time. But I became very active with this dispensation politically. I have been the chairman of Action Congress of Nigeria in Ondo state. I   was also a gubernatorial aspirant for Action Congress Ondo state amongst others.

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