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News and Society Expression Unfold


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Senator Remi Tinubu’s Human Touch;


The best example of leadership, someone has said, is leadership BY example. A good leader doesn’t just TELL her followers what to do; she SHOWS them how it’s done. 

As has been observed over the years by those who know her up close – or have seen her in action – no one exemplifies this principle more than Nigeria’s current First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, OON, CON. Those who know her best would readily tell you that her engagement with people, and the manner in which she approaches her public role – is a combination of hard and soft power. As both a political spouse AND a political player herself, she is an archetype of both  strength (in terms of being decisive, especially when it comes to the pursuit of stated objectives,  or upholding her principles in the face of resistance) and gentleness (in terms of being compassionate and empathetic, and visibly manifesting  a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others, as well as a willingness to compromise and yield some ground in the quest for common ground). 

Since her assumption of office as Nigeria’s First Lady on May 29, 2023, Sen. Tinubu has been up and about, displaying the latter trait for all to see. Though it is still early days in the life of the administration of her husband, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a growing number of Nigerians are beginning to sense that even in the face of their despair over the harsh economic conditions they currently face (partly as a result of the tough reforms instituted by this administration), Mrs. Tinubu represents a silver lining of hope in the midst of that despair. In her actions, words and engagements with various groups in the land so far, she has embodied the ‘Renewed Hope’ mantra of the administration; indeed, she is proving by the day that it is more than just an election-winning mantra. 

A number of her engagements in recent weeks serve the butress this conviction – on account of which a growing attitude of goodwill towards her is beginning to coalesce among Nigerians who are aware of what she’s doing, and the impact of her engagements – especially among vulnerable groups in various parts of the country, and in various areas of national life, from healthcare, to agriculture and food security, and to the quest for national unity and cohesion. 

Some months ago, the First Lady had cause to demonstrate her commitment to reducing the prevalence of cancer among Nigerians through effective preventive control and advocacy, when she hosted a seminar in collaboration with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) aimed at promoting cancer awareness and advocacy programmes among citizens in African member-states of the organization. The event, which was officially the 3rd edition of the OIC’s High-Level Regional Seminar, with the theme, ‘Innovative Approaches to Cancer and Early Detection’, was aimed at providing global experts (as well as other First Ladies of OIC Africa member-states who attended the event) with the opportunity to discuss and make recommendations on initiatives to promote effective cancer control and prevention in the OIC’s Africa region.

In her remarks at the occasion, Sen. Tinubu made clear her willingness –  even while the Federal Government of Nigeria took charge of the diagnostic and treatment component of cancer care – to take the lead in advocacy to promote innovative approaches to cancer prevention and early detection – the principle here being that, as is often said, prevention was infinitely better (and in perhaps all cases, cheaper) than cure.  Her position, she said, was triggered by her alarm over the statistics about an increase in cancer prevalence in Nigeria and across the continent.  Citing these statistics, she said that among women, cervical cancer was now the second commonest type of the disease in Nigeria. Fortunately, she added, it was preventable and curable when detected early – a ray of hope which has prompted her to take a stand in championing preventive measures and early detection approach. 

To this end, the First Lady has since launched an initiative facilitating the introduction of the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer in Nigeria, which, she said, marked the beginning of the inclusion of the HPV Vaccine into the routine immunisation activities of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency. 

Since the launch, over nine million girls have been fully immunized. Also thanks to her advocacy, President Tinubu approved the expansion of access to cancer treatment and care – via the upgrading of six federal tertiary health institutions with modern Brachytherapy and Nuclear Medicine equipment and other complimentary facilities, in addition to ensuring that the health sector was allocated more funds in the 2024 budget. Commending the efforts of all stakeholders dedicated to ending the scourge of cancer in Nigeria, the First Lady assured Nigerians that her office would continue to partner with all stakeholders to address the challenges of late presentation of cancer cases to health facilities across the country.

Mrs. Tinubu has also shown the same commitment to the cause of ensuring food security in Nigeria. This she demonstrated when she empowered no fewer than 120 women farmers in the country’s South West geopolitical region with the sum of N60m. She announced the donation during the launch of the 2024 Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI) Women Agricultural Support Programme for the South-West in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital – just months after a similar launch for the South-East zone in Owerri, the Imo State capital. 

At the Abeokuta event, it was disclosed that beneficiaries, drawn each from the six states in the zone, would be given the sum of N500,000 under the initiative – with the First Lady formally presenting cheques of N10m to each of the six South-West States of Ogun, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti for disbursement to 120 women farmers selected across the states. The President’s wife also used the occasion to announce a cash grant of N100,000 each for 100 people living with disability in Ogun State –  which, she said, they were to plough into their various businesses as part of their dividends from the Renewed Hope Initiative – whose activities in this regard, she added, were going on simultaneously in the states of  Plateau (for the North Central geopolitical zone);  Borno (North East) and Kebbi (North West) in a bid to help fulfil the Tinubu’s administration’s pledge to promote women farmers across the country. She urged the beneficiaries to seize the opportunity of the support to expand their farming entrepreneurship, improve on their contributions to national and local food production, and serve as role models to aspiring women in the country. She also called on all stakeholders including government officials, community leaders and NGOs to support local farmers and redouble their efforts to increase food production in the country. One of the highlights of the Abeokuta event was the presentation of farming input such as bags of fertiliser, cassava stems, herbicides, bags of maize, among other items, to over 2,000 farmers in preparation for the 2024 planting season.

Without unity and peace, the cliche goes, there can be no meaningful progress. The quest for national cohesion among Nigerians in the face of the country’s staggering cultural diversity is one that has engaged patriotic citizens of this great country since the dawn of political independence. Unity, it has been shown, is built on common purpose, and cemented on the principles of shared values, shared responsibilities and shared benefits. 

This understanding has led the First Lady, in her bid to contribute her bit to national unity, to lend her weight to various initiatives aimed at cementing the bond of understanding among Nigerians, irrespective of their background or partisan affiliation. One of such recent initiatives was the #OneNigeriaUnityFabric competition. Organized under the auspices of the Renewed Hope Initiative, the competition will see the winner cart home a whopping cash prize of N20m. Announcing the contest some months back, Sen. Tinubu revealed that  the winner, to be announced in September, will earn the prize to support their career. The purpose of the unity fabric is to showcase the uniqueness of Nigeria among the comity of nations, and the diverse cultures and ethnic nationalities that make up the rich tapestry of Nigeria. The competition, which is open to young people aged between 15 to 25 years, will demonstrate the critical nexus between artistic creativity, inter-cultural understand and national greatness. 

With the above interventions, and others too numerous to articulate here, Nigeria’s First Lady has demonstrated that she intends to use her position – as both a political spouse and a political player of no mean pedigree – to influence positive outcomes in the life of her country, and in the fortunes of her fellow-citizens. 

In a country where good governance is still at a premium, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu’s example of leadership is clearly worth of emulation. 


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