EDITORIAL: Adieu, A Woman Of Substance

April 10, 2013

Late Mrs Funmi Olayinka

A lot will be written in the course of time about the transition of the deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Mrs Funmilayo Adunni Olayinka. The delightful, photogenic second in command in Ekiti State breathed her last on Saturday, April 6, 2013 after a long battle with cancer at the age of 52.

It’s a sad, terrible loss. This is why we must not belittle the significance by using worn- out cliches and mendacious claptrap in paying tribute to her. The faithfully departed was a person of substance. She combined superb intellectual preparation with beauty and brains. Most notable of all she had that most elusive of ingredients in today’s Nigeria,- character.

This was revealed most poignantly in the struggle to validate the election of her principal, the present Ekiti state governor, Dr John Fayemi. It was amazing really to watch her transition from accomplished, urbane banker to political Amazon. This in itself was a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit. She was certainly indomitable in her steadfastness.

The lady, in the words of former British Premier Mrs. Margaret Thatcher was ‘not for turning’. She understood and interpreted the concept of loyalty in a way that is alien to much of Nigeria’s political class. She could have ditched the ticket on which she was co- elected, cut her losses and ran. For the run-of the mill political operator in Nigeria this would have been quite tempting. We saw all this play itself out in June 1993. After all not been clairvoyant, see could not possibly have known how it will all play out in the end.

This steadfastness to a cause, her unwavering commitment has earned her a positive place in the history books. Tragically early and painful as her death is it also confirms the age – old adage that it is far better to live a short life of meaning and achievement than to reside for ages without a name. Her name is now assured and immortalized.

Her deep sense of loyalty and belief in service led the seasoned administrator to move away from the banking industry after 21 years. Unusually she left her plum job in a bank and drove into the murky waters and uncertain future of politics. Remarkably within hours after she accepted to be the running mate of Dr Fayemi in the 2007 elections, she became a darling of those who had earlier opposed her candidature. Clearly she was no novice.

This was easy for her because of her charm and friendly disposition to all. She gave her all to the struggle and she never looked back even when all hope seemed lost. Her usual slogan even in the face of hopelessness and despondency is,’ it is well’. In the course of the struggle to reclaim the mandate, she cheated death twice. She was involved in two ghastly motor accidents before she got to power. In both accidents the vehicles were total write- offs.

As Deputy Governor, she was a great asset to her boss, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the entire government machinery because of her robust contribution especially in economic matters where her banking experience readily came to play.
She was the Chairman of the Economic Management Team for the state a task which she carried out diligently. She was fiercely loyal to her boss and this made the usual friction between Deputy Governors and their bosses’ non-existent. She was extremely busy superintending over many Ministries, Departments and Agencies assigned to her by the Governor most especially all matters affecting Local Government Administration in the State.
Memories of how she ensured performance from the contractors handling the 5 kilometer roads per each Local Government, which is a programme of the Fayemi administration is still fresh. Therefore, her Deputy Governorship position was different from the usual notion that Deputy Governors are spare tires.

What is impressive about Mrs. Olayinka is that she has helped to break the mould. The military induced ‘better life’ nonsense actually belittled women. Mrs. Olayinka has helped to debunk the charade that women in politics should be just gaily dressed and lacking in substance. This notion is a reinforcement of the concept of the ‘dumb blonde’.

We will never know now, what might have been. It would have been great to see her elected as governor in her own right. Our hunch is that she would have been a path- breaking, astute administrator with zero tolerance for sloppiness and corruption. Unfortunately we will never know.

Nevertheless, like everyone else, we wish her well as she takes that last, inevitable journey back home.

This article was first published in The Daily Independent on  Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Last modified: April 10, 2013

2 Responses to " EDITORIAL: Adieu, A Woman Of Substance "

  1. Keep functioning ,great job!

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