By Adebayo Samuel

When the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun swore in State Commissioners and Special Advisers on Friday, 13th October 2023, at the Oba’s Complex in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, he underscored the significance of their responsibilities with a poignant call to excellence and selfless service, saying, "you must be conscious of the fact that our people expect so much from us and we cannot afford to disappoint them in any way. We must always remember that your appointments are opportunities to prove your mettle as we jointly forge ahead in this new journey of hope." His words resonated deeply with all present, particularly with one appointee whose tireless dedication to public service has set a remarkable standard. Today, as we celebrate the birthday of this exemplary figure, it is a fitting moment to reflect on a life marked by unwavering commitment to community service and holistic political participation.

A beacon of resilience and dedication, this illustrious individual stands out with a journey adorned with nobility and virtues. Her extensive experience spans all levels of government, from local administration to the State Legislature, and now the Executive arm as the State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development. Previously, she served meritoriously as the State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism and as Special Adviser on Women Affairs during Prince Dapo Abiodun's first term. Her story is a testament to the power of community service and holistic political engagement, setting her apart as a true leader and public servant.

Born into the disciplined family of Pa Adeleye and Madam Adeleye in Abeokuta, Ogun State, her academic journey began at Methodist Primary School, Tabon-Tabon, Agege, Lagos. She continued her education at Lagos Baptist Secondary School, Orile Agege, and Iju Grammar School, Iju Station, Lagos State. Her academic pursuits saw her earn a Diploma in Yoruba Linguistics from the University of Lagos in 1998 and become an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountancy, showcasing her exceptional intellectual capabilities. Her political journey started modestly but swiftly rose through the ranks of the defunct UNCP, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), and the People's Democratic Party (PDP). She served as a Consultant to the Chairman on Community Development Matters in Ifo Local Government, thereafter as a two-term legislator in the Ogun State House of Assembly from 2007 to 2015.

Following this, she was appointed as a Senior Legislative Aide to the Deputy Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, and later appointed by Governor Abiodun as the Special Adviser on Women Affairs, before getting a higher call to serve as Commissioner for Culture and Tourism before her current role.

"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth," Muhammad Ali's words resonate profoundly in the actions of this dedicated public servant. Within a short time in the Ministry of Women Affairs, her role has been both challenging and rewarding as she works tirelessly to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women and vulnerable groups in the State. Her vigorous efforts have significantly improved the welfare and development of women, children, and vulnerable groups within the state.

Immediately on her assumption of office after being sent forth with pomp and pageantry by staffers in her erstwhile “home”- the State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, honoring her trademark diligence and dynamism as a workaholic go-getter, she embarked on advocacy visits. Her commitment to her duties was evident from the outset, as she sought to engage stakeholders and build collaborative partnerships to advance the cause of women's empowerment. 

Her advocacy visits were not merely ceremonial; they were strategic engagements aimed at garnering support and fostering alliances with those who shared her vision for Women Affairs and Social Development. Through these efforts, she laid the groundwork for meaningful collaboration and cooperation, essential ingredients for driving positive change in the lives of women and vulnerable groups. By sharing her vision and strategies, she has facilitated programs providing education, vocational training, and financial support to women, thereby enhancing their economic status. Her strengthened inter-ministerial relationships have enabled a more efficient working system for maternal health, reproductive health, and the general wellness of women and children. Through her unwavering commitment, she continues to build a more equitable society, reflecting the true essence of public service.
In the tapestry of societal transformation, Adijat stands as a weaver of change, threading the fabric of gender equality with tireless dedication. 

Her advocacy for gender parity and the eradication of gender-based violence echoes like a resounding melody, resonating across the landscape of Ogun State. With unwavering resolve, she has illuminated the shadows cast by domestic violence, child abuse, and human trafficking, casting light on the plight of the vulnerable. In her pursuit of justice and equity, Adijat has orchestrated a symphony of collaboration, forging alliances between conventional and unexpected allies in the fight against gender-based violence.

 Through her adept leadership, she has orchestrated the harmonious convergence of community members and security agencies, weaving a tapestry of vigilance and action. Her assumption of office has been defined by a steadfast commitment to policy advocacy and implementation, as she champions initiatives that safeguard the rights of women, children, and the marginalized. With the precision of a master craftsman, she has fortified the legal framework protecting women's rights and child welfare, laying a foundation of resilience against the winds of adversity.

Today, the ministry stands as a beacon of hope, offering solace and support to those in need. Through her visionary leadership, she has transformed the Women Affairs and Social Development ministry into a sanctuary for the vulnerable, providing refuge for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. In her hands, the ministry becomes not just a bureaucratic institution but a bastion of compassion and empowerment. In the annals of achievement, the establishment of three additional Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) emerges as a beacon of hope, scattered like stars across the four zones of the State. As these centers near completion, their imminent presence promises a sanctuary for victims of sexual assault, a testament to her unwavering commitment to fostering a safer society. In her relentless crusade against gender-based violence, she has wielded her advocacy like a sword, swiftly striking down perpetrators and igniting a flame of public awareness.

In the realm of child welfare, 'Adijat' has transcended expectations, breathing life into the aspirations of vulnerable children. With unparalleled diligence, she has navigated the labyrinth of child adoption, dismantling bureaucratic barriers and ushering in an era of transparency and accountability. Her office, akin to a hallowed chamber of justice, stands as a sanctuary for those in need, where grievances find resolution and justice finds its voice. In her domain, no cry for help goes unheard, no plea for justice goes unanswered. Like a guardian angel, she watches over the innocent, ensuring that their voices are heard and their rights are protected. Her unwavering dedication to the cause of child welfare serves as a demonstration to her boundless compassion and unwavering resolve.

Like the nurturing lioness guiding her cubs, Adijat embarked on a visionary endeavor: the inauguration of the 5th Children's Parliament, a long-awaited milestone. Under her stewardship, the ministry recently achieved this feat, heralding the emergence of Hon. Ezekiel Favour as the Speaker of the House. Preceding the inauguration were days of intensive orientation for the teenagers, instilling in them the values of legislative ethics and leadership skills, forging them into formidable leaders of tomorrow. With this bold initiative, a new generation of leaders is being groomed, poised to chart a course towards a brighter future, armed with invaluable experience and leadership acumen. Driven by an unwavering commitment to positively impact lives, the devoted Rotarian who embodies the four-way test, channels her words and actions towards staff development-this dedication has earned her the loyalty and extra commitment of the ministry’s workforce. Her steadfast devotion to public service and community development shines brightly as she continues to uplift the lives of women, children, and vulnerable groups in Ogun State, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those she serves.

As we celebrate Haady's 48th birthday, we honor not just the passing of years but the remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication she has shown to societal progress. With each step she takes, she leaves a trail of hope and inspiration, lighting the way for future generations. Her journey is a tapestry woven with threads of diligence, compassion, and resilience, creating a legacy that shines brightly in the annals of public service. I join other well wishers to offer heartfelt prayers for God’s wisdom to continue guiding her path, allowing her to touch even more lives with her boundless energy and steadfast commitment. May her days be filled with the same grace and strength that have defined her illustrious career, and may her impact on the World grow ever more profound. As the years unfold, her story will remain a testament to the power of dedication and the enduring light of service.

Adebayo writes from Abalabi in Ewekoro LGA

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