Up, Close and Personal with Her Excellency - Yeye Olufunke Daniels
The Chairperson Gateway Front Foundation (GFF), Yeye Olufunke Daniel has been describe variously as kind hearted, fashionable, resourceful, intelligent and very beautiful. In this interview conducted by Dare Folarin she speaks on how she met her husband and life at the government house. Excerpts:
Could you describe the kind of man your husband is?
My husband is someone who believes in helping those who are underprivileged in the society and this was what informed his establishment of Gateway Front Foundation (GFF). He is someone who cannot be curbed especially if he is doing something he so much believes in. He is a loving husband and caring father at the same time. Besides, he is somebody who does not believe in failure. If he decides to embark on any project, no matter how difficult it is, he believes he will excel.
Tell us about your courtship days and how you met?
I was doing holiday job in a bookshop on Allen Avenue when he came in one morning to buy some books. We had a brief discussion but not about any relationship anyway. It was after I had gone back to school at the University of Ibadan that my colleagues then later told me that he had been coming to the bookshop to ask for me. He was later directed to my school and he came there. Before we knew it, chemistry of love struck between the two of us and the rest was history.
Who threw the first salvo of love affairs?
He was the first to do that of course. It was after he had expressed his love to me, that I too responded. As you know very well that love is reciprocal and that it takes two to play the game.
How has it been, being a housewife?
Well, it has been very wonderful to be a housewife! It has given me ample opportunities to take care of my husband and cater for our children. It has also made it possible for me to put things in order at home especially during my husband’s frequent business overseas trips.
When your husband informed you about his political ambition, how did you react to it?
From the beginning, I was a bit shaken. I did not want him to venture into politics, but at the same time, he is someone who is very convincing. He would have made up his mind before he discussed with you and when he is doing so, he’s got his facts to help you change your mind. This is because, along the line, I’ve noticed that he’s been helping people even though it was not much. The little he was able to do was touching lives so he thought if it is done on a large scale, it would go a long way and that was what really spurred him to go into politics.
How would you describe his early stages in politics?
Like I said earlier, it was a bit shaky as you know that the political terrain is a different ball game, with sheer determination and doggedness with people’s unflinching supports, he was a winner.
Did you entertain any fear of loss at the election?
I did not entertain any fear whatsoever. I never knew him to be a failure and I was so confident that even if he did not emerge as a Governor eventually, people would appreciate him and that was good enough for me. The way he was going about the campaign is still the way he is going about rendering service now.
What was the view of some of your friends when your husband ventured into politics?
As I had stated earlier, they too expressed doubt initially but when they realized that he never ventured into anything that will not succeed, they gave him in their supports too.
Did you ever think of becoming a First Lady and how do you feel when you became Governor’s wife?
To be honest, no! I felt to become the First Lady of Ogun State will afford me the opportunity to complement the efforts of my husband to make sure the people of this State get value for their votes. I will also be able to identify with the downtrodden in the State in order to restore their hopes and put smiles on their faces through various programmes embarked upon by the Gateway Front Foundation.
Can you assess your husband’s performance so far?
The result of his performance is evident everywhere for everybody to see. Let me tell you that the people of Ogun State are very lucky to have Otunba Gbenga Daniel as Governor because he is an embodiment of good things. He is somebody who gives his all to do anything he wants to do. He has not disappointed us all. I think he has performed credibly well so far.
Now that your husband is busy with State matters, don’t you think it will affect other things in your matrimonial home?
Well, since I have known him for his doggedness, and altruistic nature and also his resolve to serve the people of this State diligently, I have no option but to support him for a successful governance. Therefore I have decided to donate him to Ogun State for the period of his stewardship. So I don’t think his occasional absence from home would make much difference.
What advice do you have for him in governance?
I just want to advice him not to lose his focus. He must not deviate from the mission and objectives he had in mind when he decided to vie for the seat of Governor of his State. He must also listen to constructive criticism from his political advisers so as to move the State forward and also be steadfast in his philosophy which is touching people’s lives positively.
How do you feel now that your husband eats food prepared by government house cooks?
I don’t feel bad at all about that. Let me point out clearly that there are still some delicacies he would want me to prepare for him. For example, he will never allow anybody to prepare his “Ikokore” (Water yam porridge) and “Efo riro” (Vegetable soup). So, I still go to kitchen to prepare his meal!
How do you combine your fashion business with State assignment?
Well, the business is being run by somebody else, I only go there once in a while to see what they do, I am right now here permanently. There is no way I can do other thing for now apart from helping my husband and support our people.
How is Gateway Front Foundation doing under your Chairperson?
Gateway Front Foundation is doing wonderfully well under my supervision. Apart from the things you’ve known the GFF for, I have added a few things and that is because I’m a woman and I want to interact more with children especially the ones the people will refer to as the real less privileged people, like beggars, if you like. I want to reach out to them, help them with materials, possibly with money, set them up. We’ve been able to help a few who are cobblers, some of them who do this traditional embroidery, “Jakan”, they cannot walk but they’ve got useful hands and we’ve been able to empower them by setting them up and all that.
The second aspect is that of our children. I have realized that information technology is very very crucial now in our society and I have not seen much of encouragement in the society. I want to encourage children to learn about computers. I have given some out. I also intend to hold debates and all that and donate computers to all the participating schools. Those are the additional things I am bringing into GFF programmes.
Any plan to have a baby (i.e.) before the end of your husband’s tenure?
No. I have had enough!
What do you do at your leisure time?
Reading, watching TV and ruminating on how to improve on what I’ve been doing…