When one considers distinguished Senator Oluremi Tinubu in the light of the Shakespearean quote, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them’, only a few would argue that she belongs to the category of people who have achieved greatness. Born as the last child among 12 by her parents, nothing in her history could have pointed towards the greatness she has attained and undoubtedly exhibits till this day. Who then would have imagined that little Itsekiri girl would rise from inauspicious beginnings to become a three-time Senator from Lagos State, wielding tremendous influence in the National Assembly and indeed outside it? Who would have foreseen that she would be the beloved heartthrob of a man who would not only himself become a Senator and Governor, but indeed the national leader of Nigeria’s ruling party and one of the most powerful politicians in the history of Nigerian politics?
Fast forward a few years and today she has made history as the first woman in the most populous black nation in the world to be elected to the Senate three consecutive times, beating off notable male contenders on each occasion. On that score alone, Dorothy Heights submission that “greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals” proves to be true. While only a few women manage to get elected to that eminent body in each election cycle in Nigeria, Senator Remi Tinubu is certainly not there just to make up the numbers. Her male counterparts do hold her in high esteem not merely because she is the wife of the famous Jagaban, Bola Tinubu.
She holds her own and has become a voice for the voiceless, and a defender of the less privileged through her legislative advocacy. Even before she became First Lady of Lagos State, she had always looked out for the less privileged and has for many years given grants to sustain the elderly through her Elderly Citizen Assistance Scheme. She is loved by hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom have directly benefited from her large heart and reputation for kindness. Deservedly she has bagged several honours and laurels, locally and internationally including the prestigious national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), the Ghana Noble International Award for Leadership, as well as the Gambian Diamond Award for Immense Contribution to the Emancipation of People from Poverty. So well known is she in leadership circles across a continent where women are scarce in those roles, that in far away Senegal the Femmes De L’Afrique De L’Quest/West African Women Association named their Women Training Centre after her!
Of note and commendation are the personal sacrifices she makes in supporting her husband as he contributes in leading the nation. Before they got married, they used to spend a lot of time together but the demands of nation building have elicited from her uncommon understanding and laudable maturity. It is not misplaced conjecture to assert that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu loves Remi his wife and is succeeding because of her unwavering support for him. Her place in history’s good books is assured and it is yet possible that from her innocuous, nondescript beginnings, she may very well also have the title, First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ascribed to her. Whether or not that happens, it is our wish that her years be full of life, vigor, true joy and a legacy that will be influential to young girls and women of all ages around the world. As she celebrates her 59th birthday this weekend, a deluge of goodwill messages and felicitations will certainly come her way, each of them deserved. She is a case study for the validity of the belief that more women can succeed at politics and governance and should be empowered to do so