Recently Chief Mrs Adeorike Durosinmi -Etti was installed as the President of the Cosmopolitan Women Club at a glitzy ceremony on Lagos Island. The event doubled as the launch of a scholarship scheme for indigent but brilliant children and saw members (including four former deputy governors of Lagos state) and non members alike earmark tidy sums for the purpose. Chatting with WW, Chief Durosimi Etti exposes her motivation and aspirations, along with her Executive Council’s during her tenure.
What was the motivation for the scholarship scheme?
We are bothered about the lack of education amongst our youth so we think we should do something for them. This is just a start off and we are not alone. There are other organizations doing the same thing we just want to contribute to the society. We are not limited to physically challenged. Even those that are able bodied but are less privileged but are not able to further their education because of lack of funds so we are gathering money and it’s going to be an ongoing thing already from our own resources without any support we have contributed to sponsor some students from Pacelli School for the Blind. We want to do more for not only visually impaired but other physically challenged and even able bodied that we know are focused and that have the potential to acquire further education as useful members of the society.
There are so many scholarship schemes. What will make yours different?
Once we start with them, as long as they are able to go on we are not stopping at a particular level. We want to see that they achieve their peak.
What have you put in place to ensure this?
We are liaising with the heads of institutions. Like the Pacelli School for the Blind that we have started we have a liaison officer there that we relate to. We are monitoring their progress in school. One is attending Queens’ College, one is attending Ijanikin and one is at Pacelli School for the Blind. At the end of the term we are going to request for their performance. We must have a copy of their reports so that we also can evaluate. If they have any problems they will let us know. So far so good.
What exactly is the amount that you budget for each child?
It depends on the school that you are attending. There is no specific cost. One of them is attending Queens’ College. You know Queens’ College is cheaper rather than a private school. We paid for the whole year for them till December this year (2019). It is about a million naira that we have paid so far but we are ready to bring in more students
Beyond the scholarships do you follow them up to their homes?
No, we have not started to do that. They were recommended by the Pacelli School for the blind so we are liaising with the Pacelli School.
How would you comment on government efforts in education especially education of the physically challenged?
Government cannot do everything alone. That is why others like us should rise up to make the shortfall. government is trying but needs support of everyone to achieve the ultimate, that is a just and fair society, well educated society- because an educated society is a civilized society. The problems we are having in the North for example is due to lack of education. We want to try as much as possible to put in some ameliorating measures to curb that kind of hooliganism or banditry.
How has the journey been so far?
It has been nice. I have received a lot of cooperation from members of the club; the executives have been wonderful. last year we had an event bringing awareness on the societal issues that we have especially with women, children and youth. We discussed insecurity and how we can do something about it.
What is the average profile of your members?
she must be 50 and above, professional and a well educated person who has achieved success in her chosen career.
Against this backdrop is there any interface of the Club with government?
We are trying to do that. We are processing our registration with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in Lagos state.Once we do that we are on their list. But besides that if we have any issues… The fire incident that happened in Ita Faji, we wanted to intervene but there was no proper organization even within the government that we could relate to. We wanted to provide some measures that would ease up some of the problems the victims encountered.
What is the implication of being registered with the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation?
Maybe when they are doing their own event, we will be invited as a group. If we have ideas, we can forward to them and they would collaborate with us. I am not sure whether we are going to be receiving any stipends from government but we are not dependent on that. We have our own resources to do whatever we want to do.
What is your position in ensuring that in government, we have equity among all sectors?
The last gubernatorial elections, the society organised a seminar, sort of, where we invited the gubernatorial candidates to tell us what they have for women in the society. They came; Ambode came and at the same time Agbaje also came, Remi Sonaiya too came. Unfortunately, we have not been able to follow up with them to ascertain what they have done for women. We intend to that with this new administration that is coming in.
Do you think he (Ambode) did well in terms of women in government?
We have some commissioners and I think we have some other members, women too. We do not have the tab on women participation but I know he has women commissioners.
What is the spread of your membership across the geopolitical zones. Are you limited to Lagos only?
Right now, we are limited to Lagos but as I stated in my speech, we want to make it a household name. Most of us are resident in Lagos so we want to start up in Lagos. We are not limited to Lagos, but right now we want to focus on Lagos and establish ourselves. We are not just going to give scholarships, we are trying to intervene in communities in their areas of need. In fact, the seminar we had on insecurity, we received an invitation to go to Ogun State but because of all these political happenings, we couldn’t firm it up.
Some people have been complaining that women have always been particular about the girl child and ignore the boy child. What is your take on that?
(Laughs) Girl children are more exposed to danger in the society than the boy child. I think that is why there is a concentration, but for our scholarship scheme we are not discriminating. We are going to entertain both girls and boys.
What advice do you have for mothers not to neglect their boy children as they too are vulnerable?
What is good for the goose is good for the gander. They should be treated similarly. The boy should learn to do some duties in the house, even learn how to cook and the girl too should learn how to do some things for herself.
She should not rely on ‘my brother will do it for me’ , she should be able to do it herself. There are no exceptions.