When the 8th Assembly is inaugurated in Lagos State in June, 2014, Princess Adefunmilayo Tejuoso will rank as one of the three most experienced lawmakers in the state. Currently, Chairman of the Assembly Committe on Finance, Princess Tejuoso is gunning for the Speakership of the House – the only female aspirant.
In the first part of this exclusive interview with the editorial team of thegazellenews.com, she speaks on her ambition and why she thinks it is time for the state Assembly to have a woman as Speaker. Excerpts:
Why do you really want to b the Speaker of the House of Assembly?
I think everybody is a potential speaker in this House of Assembly, I believe that I have served this House diligently for several years, I believe that I’m qualified and capable to occupy that position. I have not gone out to lobby to become speaker, some of my colleagues have approached me that they will like me to lead them in the next Assembly.
I believe in what people say that what a man can do a woman can do better, you know we take it further to say what a woman cannot do cannot be done, and I feel that since my colleagues have come to talk with me, we have been speaking on this matter and by the grace of God the person that will be the Speaker would definitely be me. It is only God that can enthroned a king and I have absolute belief in Him on my aspiration.
Do you think you have the capacity to control a House which majority members are men?
I don’t think it is a matter of control rather a matter of working together as a team to move Lagos State forward, I believe that as a legal practitioner who has worked with a lot of men and has been able to head my own legal which is doing very well, I have the capacity to lead the House.
I want to believe that there is nothing that is extra ordinary in a man that a woman does not have, intelligent wise and I believe that it’s not a job to be a woman in a man’s world but it’s for us to appreciate that there’s equality, we even have law that talks about gender equality in Nigeria, we have people who talk about affirmative action because they appreciate the fact that women have had short end of the stake for a very long time and we must also appreciate that when a woman is given opportunity to lead we have more to prove because we put more extra effort to make sure that we succeed.
You are a reference point in promoting women welfare particularly education of the girl-child, as a Speaker are you going to lay emphasis on promotion of women rights?
When I was voted into the House of Assembly, I wasn’t voted for boy or girl, I was voted to be the voice for my constituency and being a speaker you are suppose to be voice of the people of Lagos State, I will continue to be voice of men and women, I will continue to be voice of the people who don’t really have a voice, I will continue to be voice of the men of Lagos state because as a legislator you are there not as a female nor a male but as a representative of that constituency to bring the dividends of democracy to your people and I feel that because of my education, because of my background, I really don’t see myself as a woman who is trying to achieve but I see myself as a person that will achieve.
Eventually if you become the speaker, what will be your priority?
Like I said earlier, being a speaker is being a team leader and you must work with your colleagues to uphold the integrity of the House of Assembly. You must make sure that the executive are doing what they are suppose to do, you don’t want to antagonize you want to criticise constructively, you want to make sure that the executive are doing what they are suppose to do.
We want to make sure that we make laws that will put Lagos state better place for everybody to live: good education, improved health care delivery and services and infrastructure development; all we need to make Lagos move forward.
Our leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has actually build solid foundation in Lagos state and this is confirmed with the way people are eager to vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC). Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, is building solid structures on this foundation and we are sure that the governor-elect Mr Akinwunmi Ambode will definitely consolidate and solidify in achieving all these, the legislative arm has to be strong. We have to understand why we are here, we need experience, we need people that have been tested and trusted, people that their constituencies also believe in. I believe with experience and exposure, and educational wise, there’s nothing we cannot do as a people.
Do you think that being a woman will be an advantage for you to lead the House?
I think it is time for change. It’s time a woman take lead as Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, I think it’s time to support women to excel. With all sense of modesty, I think I’m very capable to lead the House. I don’t derail, I don’t lose focus of where I’m going or doing and this I will continue to do for the people of my state in general and my constituents in particular.
I think my colleagues have got to understand and they understand when I talk to them, I really talk to them from the bottom of my heart, and I’m a kind of person that do not hold a grudge with against anybody. Once I talked about something I move on and that’s why you can see people coming to me and asking me to lead them.
So for me, I didn’t just decided to contest, even in running for election into the House, my constituents come and meet me, we want you to do this we want you to do that, that was why I contested for a return into the House of Assembly. I would have easily won my party’s ticket for the House of Representatives but my constituents insisted that I should remain in Lagos, They want to see and interact with me regularly.
I believe for members of the House of Assembly to approach me just like the way they have done, to lead the House, there must be a lot about me that they like: they like the integrity, they like the truthfulness and I think they like the honesty and straight forwardness. I believe that my colleagues are comfortable with me; hence they will rather support a straight forward and honest person like me to occupy the position.
I feel that my quality has actually made me a stronger person and made me have more people that understand me and want to be around me and want to support me.