Unlike today when a local government chairman can buy property in Dubai, UK, and anywhere he chooses to, it wasn’t like that in the 60s and 70s, the story was different in the 1970s
And according to Ebun Oyagbola, Nigeria’s first female minister, public service was purely for service to humanity and “your community.
- Full name: Adenike Ebunoluwa Oyagbola
- Date of birth: May 5, 1931
- Home town: Iganalade, Yewa North Local Government
- State of origin: Ogun
Mama Oyagbola was born in 1931 in a town in present-day Yewa North local government area of Ogun State, Southwest geopolitical zone.
According to her, growing was challenging because she came at a time her mum was battling cancer of the breast.
“I was never breastfed because of cancer, but she believed that I would live. I was very close to my mother,” she told The Niche, an online newspaper based in Lagos in 2014
She had her early education in her hometown and later trained at a Teacher Training College at Ilaro at the time. She taught briefly at Yewa and Mushin before traveling to the United Kingdom for further studies.
She bagged a degree in Accounting and upon her return, she joined the Federal Civil Service in 1963.
Becoming The First Female Minister
She was in civil service during the trying moments of the 1960s through the 1970s. and by 1979 when the military regime of Olusegun Obasanjo handed over to the civilian administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Mrs Oyagbola was appointed by the President.
She was the only female cabinet member of Shehu Shagari, holding one of the most crucial portfolios at the time.
Oyagbola was the Minister of National Planning from December 1979 to October 1983. Presently, the ministry of national planning has been merged with the Ministry of Finance (known as Finance, Budget, and National Planning.)
She was later appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United Mexican States of Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
Speaking on her experience, she said “I enjoyed being an Ambassador because, then, it was a great honour for somebody to be sent out to represent his or her country.
“When you are representing a country as an ambassador, you are the president of that country over there. There is no money in it. If you are somebody who feels money is everything, then you may be disappointed for being sent as an ambassador.”
Stealing Public Funds Was “Impossible”
She said she was lucky to be appointed as a minister at the time, “There was even no money at that time. Let’s say you know how to steal”
From 1979 to 1983, she said ministers were receiving about N1,000 per month. What would you do with that? When we started, ministers were given two vehicles”
Unlike today, when federal lawmakers are demi-gold in their constituencies because of their wealth from politics, Ebun Oyagbola, asked, where was the money for you to steal?
Mrs Oyagbola now lives in Ogun.