KWARA 1st Lady, Opens Up On Her Life In Office
2 Hrs With Deaconess OMOLEWA ABDULFATAH AHMED
Deaconess Omolewa Abdulfatah Ahmed is the First Lady of Kwara State. Describe her as a friend of women, girl – child, virtuous woman, praying woman; and you won’t be wrong.
Some call her by her foundation’s name, Aunty Leah; some simply call her Aunty Lewa. Her Leah Foundation continues to save lives from cancer (cervical and breast). But what does this lady cherish most? Her relationship with God, her salvation from Form 2 when she ran to Christ and for her nothing on earth should or well affect her eternity. Such is the strength of her faith. She pronounces “Jesus” or “God” intermittently in her sentences and can’t do without quoting the scriptures. It comes to her naturally. She is simply after God’s heart and this reflects in her personality and character.
Simplicity, impartation, being a blessing to people are her creed. She is no doubt one of the most hardworking First Ladies in Nigeria and one of the most humble and simplest. She is simply unaffected by her office. After 5 years, she is still herself. Nothing has changed about her. She is blessed with fruits of the spirit which continually works for her. Her aides and herself are one big family. They act like brothers and sisters. It is an open office but they are all professionals.
At the international year of the Girl/Child day, which she had earlier at the State House Banquet Hall, she spoke passionately (and so did other speakers) on the challenges facing the Girl/ Child especially abuse. At the Girl/ Child especially abuse. At the program, she reeled out her private telephone number out to all the students present and asked them to call her if they needed to talk to her. That has always been her practice. She gives her number to women and children. She doesn’t believed in the protocols of being hidden or been removed from the people. She cheered, hugged, took photographs with all the children. She warmed up naturally to everybody.
What has made her a hit with the people (Young and old) is her selfless service and devotion to her LEAH Founding which keeps saving lives. Also, she never forgets names or faces. She only has to meet you once. In Kwara state, OmolewaAbdulfatah Ahmed has become a mentor and role model.Her steps her ordered by the Lord and never does anything without seeking God’s face. This has contributed majorly to her success. She is a Deaconess.
BOLA DAVIES, the city people Deputy Editor had an interview with her in the conference hall of the office of the First Lady Ilorin. She was full of energy, zeal and drive after having attended a 7hours program.
Yet, the following day, she was having the vigil after a busy day schedule. She is never tired. She radiated warmth all through. During the interview, she spoke at length about the Leah foundation; her fervor for Christ, her family life and her challenges as First Lady. She came across as simple; down to earth and contented woman. All she needs from people, she insists is honesty and all she lives for is to be a blessing to others, so that God’s purpose in her life will be fulfilled. Indeed, she is a fulfilled woman. Her interview is interesting, as First Lady, nothing has changed about her. She is her spirit filled led life”.
5years in the saddle as first lady, what motivates you?.
Is it the Christian part of you that has enhanced a lot of your attributes?
I am what I am just by the grace and mercy of God. That is just me. But for me, service to humanity is a passion and a divine call. You said something about fiveyears.Its what I have been doing all my life my own way.The NGO is not about being in the office. For me, it is a calling. It is a ministry which I am accountable to my creator.So I owe God the responsibility to be faithful in this assignment. To whom much is given, much will be expected. He is going to ask me, “I gave you an opportunity.You were sitting on this table, so how faithful have you been?”. So that has been my driving force because I know I am accountable to the Lord.
THE LEAH FOUNDATION which you are running continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Did you get it as a prophesy or as a Vision?
I think that is just what it is. Well, The Bible says that we are born for a purpose and I think this is just my purpose.This is just what I have been called to do and this is just me. This is just who i am. This is my life; this is what gives me joy. Every other thing can be taken from me but I can’t joke with being a blessing. I can’t explain it.Just like you said; “this is a divine call”. I think that is what it is. It is just about God.
Every program you see us run comes by inspiration. I just get a leading by the Holy Spirit and I put my team together and we begin to build on it and before you know it, it would come out well. We work together as a team. None of us can lay claim to a program and say it is his/her idea. No, every of the program that we run has been an inspiration from the Lord, then we work on it. Just like what you saw today.
The cervical and breast cancer that LEAH foundation is working on is impressive. How far have you gone? It is very expensive to run such a foundation. How do you cope?
It has been tough. But when we started the work, we had to work out a strategy. We started with advocacy and awareness because we realized that some people have not heard of it or will live in denial of it or they are just nonchalant.So we started with serious advocacy. We go out to where we have large a concentration of women. Funding is a challenge. But impacting on lives has been keeping us going.
I have had personal experiences which challenged me more to see to prevention of people dying from Cancer. And when the inspiration came to me to have a Cancer foundation, I was like “this is a big dream, Lewa, this is too tall”. But it kept coming and I had confirmation.
I remember in 2011, even before my husband was sworn in. I met someone from my past inside Wuse market. After exchanging pleasantries and I was going, she just pulled me back and said “Lewa if there is one thing I will like you to work on, it is Cancer. This is killing women.It just killed my sister. I just said “hmm, mummy it is well, The Lord will help us” and I left.
But because I have had the inspiration before, I just said to myself it will be will ok. Let me even take a step and see. By the time i did one or two meetings, I was like”wow this is just way out of it wow, this is unreachable, this is unattainable” and I just swept it under the carpet and said let me just continue with my work of helping in my own way until I had personal experience. So I was sure the Lord wanted me to do something about it. Within the length of these four years, I have lost three very close people to me to one form of cancer or the other.
I have lost my Aunt. The person that practically backed me when I was growing up. I have lost my friend, a very dear friend that I have lived in her house and I have lost another Aunt who took care of my mom when I was far away in the North tovarious types of cancer. I think those three experiences kind of brought the reality to me. That no matter how small, just start from where you are. I want to thank God that today, not only have we tried as much as possible to reach out to people around us but we have gone through everywhere and anywhere in Kwara State. Not only have we done that, we have been able to by the grace and help of the Lord opened 28 clinic centers in the state. You know tests, diagnosis and treatments are expensive. Not every woman can afford it but there is this new way of testing which is called Via and it is very cheap. I think it is done for 500 or 1,000Naira. But herewe charge 200 Naira. And why do we charge 200 Naira? It is because of the speculum. We use the disposable iron type, the steel one. We use the disposable speculum. So once use you pay your 200naira, they will hand over your speculum to you. We are trying to use that in order to avoid you coming in and getting infected. You know it is a very sensitive part.
So if sterilization is not done properly, it could lead to something, which we don’t want to happen.That is why we are using the speculum. So that is what people pay for. We have 28 of those basic clinic centers and then we have a major diagnosis center. It is a full clinic where we have a complementary laboratory which is fully equipped. You can run all sorts of tests because some people, when they do the VIA and it is not conclusive, they send them for further tests. We do that at the LEAH Diagnosis center. And for people who have the fear of probably having cervical cancer, there is a treatment called Cryo Therapy. It freezes cancer cell from the cervix. By the grace of God, LEAH Foundation does that and if we cannot intervene at that level. Then we refer you to The Teaching Hospital or to General Hospital. But by the grace of God, we believe in God and we are also talking to people.
But the final stage of this cancer project would be for us to have a purpose built Specialist Hospital for the treatment of cervical and breast cancer and what you saw us do today is another means of our advocacy drive. We want to take it to secondary schools; we are talking to companies, manufacturing companies on how we can get the vaccination tools subsidized for our children.
Looking at you, one would see Contentment and Peace. You have passion for Women and Children and they said that these have contributed to you complementing your husband immensely in politics. How have you been able to affect him positively?
A: I think I am his number one critic. I tell him the truth when I hear things in town, I don’t hide it. I tell him what people are saying about him. And my role as his wife, the Bible calls me a help mate. I think I am just staying in my space in which God has told me to be in the life of AlhajiAbdulfatah Ahmed. I tell him the truth; I owe him that because I am a Christian like you know. For me, all unrighteousness is sin. I tell him what I hear. There are times that I tell him things like that and he would have to go out of his way to ensure that things are put in order, whether there are steps that need to be taken or whether there are explanations that need to be given. You know sometimes, he doesn’t get people to tell him things as it is. A lot of people, I don’t know whether it is because of what they will get; some people are just like that.Some people,It is just out of fear of the office. Some call it respect, so they are not able to tell him. But in my own case, he is my husband. If he fails, I fail, no matter how much work I think I have the capacity to do; if my husband fails then I am a failure.
So in the course of doing this advocacy for women wellbeing, empowerment and the promotion of good health in women, do you see yourself going into partisan politics? Maybe into Senate?
Why not? You have followership
I am a Minister of the Gospel by the grace of God. That is my first assignment and I am soon to start my mission work. I know God is not calling me into politics. He is calling me into rescuing the souls of those who are dying.
How are you able to combine your role as the first lady, a missionary and advocate for women wellbeing, a mother and a wife?
Well I think it is just by the grace of God.You know when you are in your place of calling, the Lord makes everything available. The strength you need, the help you need, the succor you need, the shoulder you need to cry on when you need to cry. So, I think for me, I lean more on the help of the Lord to do anything and I also believe so much in that scripture that says “faithful is he that called me” because He alone can do it. I don’t believe in my strength or that I can do it all but since it is an assignment; he makes all the provisions available.
What is your philosophy of life like?
Live and let others live.
Why this philosophy?
I just believe that we don’t need too much or so much. Once you are at peace, you can feed, you can do basic things, and I believe in simplicity and contentment. I believe you need just a little, so why not let the remaining go round. When you look at it, the Bible says “vanity upon vanity”. No matter how much we struggle or how much we build, all these are things we need here on earth but I am more particular about my life after here. So that it is my driving force. I don’t want anything or any physical thing to rule over my heart. So I am comfortable, I don’t care.
From the little experience I have gathered, I have seen that sometimes God brings some people into your life, for you to be a blessing to, so that he can make you better. He does everything, he has his plan.
So, if you miss that plan, then that means even you yourself would be stagnant because you need to be a blessing to that person to be better.
So that means my being better than who I am now is dependent on my being a blessing to others. So if I choose to be selfish, then I choose to be stagnant. So it is live and let others live.
Despite your simplicity, there is still this glamorous side of you. How did that evolve?
Glamorous ? I’m I glamorous?
Yes, like the way you are dressed now in your jean Trouser, Ankara sequence top and yuppie cap. It is youthful and at the same time glamorous and conservative. How did your style evolve?
Well all these things are things we need to do here on earth and the circumstances I am now calls for it. No matter what religion or calling, you have to look neat. You know the Bible makes us understand that everything is good but loving something or taking it to the extreme that it becomes an obsession, that is when it is a sin. So there is nothing wrong in wanting to do the basic things. For me, it is basic. I just want to be comfortable. Anything that I would wear and I will have to look over my shoulder, I’ll know it’s not for me. I want to be free and I am not the type to look so conscious or looking over my shoulders all the time. I am just me. If I need to dress and I have a function or there is a function, I will dress.
Do you still have time to cook for your husband?
Well the Bible says “All unrighteousness is sin”, not that I don’t have time. Probably because the office kind of looks funny, but I try as much as possible to get into the kitchen to see what they do, to see his food. I do that, but to cook, it’s been a while. I cook when we are not in Nigeria, and before we got to the Government house, I cook for my husband, though we had help, but I cook for my husband. But being in the Government house, it is a larger kitchen than what you have in your home, its different”.
Are you enjoying yourself as the first lady?
I’m enjoying the Christ in my life. If there is anything this first lady has taught me, it has helped me to discover my purpose. It has given me direction it has helped my emotions. It has made me appreciate Godmore for everything.
Have you had challenging moment while in the office?
Oh, every day is challenging.
Like what, Your Excellency?
All the usual things. Oh, I didn’t do this, oh, I did this too much, or I’m partial or is it possible, or they said you said and so on. But I guess it comes with the terrain.
In a Christian office? One would think that all your staff and people surrounding you closely will all be born again Christians?
Oh it is not a Christian office, should I shock you? The closest people to me are the Muslims. Like this young man, I love him so much. He is a Muslim, Mr. Bello is a Muslim and we are extremely close. Mrs. Konike, she is my sweetheart.
For me, my Christian life I want to keep it to myself. I don’t want to discriminate about it. If there is one thing I have learnt, it’s that there are only two types of people in this world, irrespective of your religion. Your color, your whatever, you are either good or bad. So we should stop hiding under religion, I’m telling you that I have had Christians stab me. I’m not saying there are no good Christians, I have had wonderful people, beautiful friends, people I share my heart with, like you could see on our panel today, we have quite a number of Christians there. Those are my friends, my prayer partner was there, and maybe you noticed, after the program she held my hand and we prayed. Those are wonderful Christians. But what I’m saying is just that I don’t allow the religion to discriminate against the people that I work with. I want to believe in your professionalism, in yourhonesty, which is what is keen to me.
So if there is something you see in my life that will attract you, it’s ok. But if my life is not affecting you positively, I need to check myself. That is what is called Christianity. It’s not about carrying bell in the morning.
For instance, at the beginning of the year, we had three days fasting and prayer, the Christians were gathered and praying every three hours. The Muslims were also gathered and were doing thesamething. So we appreciate, love and respect each other’s religion in the office. That was why the Christians were praying and the Muslims were praying also. And nobody is compelled to do anything outside their religion.
I just want people who have good conscience and people who have respect for God and have a place for God in their life.
So where do you see LEAH Foundation go in the next five years?
I see LEAH becoming a voice. Recently we are rebranding. Before we used to be LEAH Charity Foundation but now we are LEAH Foundation. Charity is out. Our slogan use to be touching lives. We are still touching lives but now, we are talking about the total survival of the world.
I see us becoming a voice. When LEAH is called, you know that a woman is beingrescued somewhere and is being given hope to live again.
Source ; City people