It was 7:30 in the morning of Friday the 25th May, 2018. Our Crew at SENS Newswire was ushered into her resplendent office at the heart of Abeokuta. Adorning the wall were portraits of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, The Executive Governor Ibikunle Amosun, and a full length picture she took with her husband. Several members of staff were putting finishing touches to arrangements for the day’s event. Despite her busy schedule, Queen (Hon.) Temitope Grace Okoya was kind enough to open her doors and heart, addressed our questions on issues which have defined her life, and talked about her passion for empowerment.
In the course of the interview, it was easy to appreciate why she has been described as the humanitarian per excellence, philanthropist, human rights activist, politician and business woman many Nigerians will not forget in a lifetime. Excerpts:
SENS: Congratulations on your birthday. We learnt you are keeping it on low key. How do you feel?
Queen: (laughs) I’m sure I didn’t tell you my birthday anniversary is today, but you’re quite right. As per how I feel, well, I’m sure I’m doing just fine. I’m grateful to God for the privilege of every new day, and I appreciate all the kindness and blessings I’ve been bestowed.
SENS: How will you mark today?
SENS: Tell us about yourself
Queen: I don’t like ostentatious displays and I don’t always attend parties. On my birthday anniversaries and other special occasions, I find it more comfortable creating something significant that would provide benefits to the needy.
SENS: You mentioned your NGO a few moments ago. What is it about?
Queen: Ebunlobinrin Foundation Incorporated is perhaps, the biggest grassroot development non-governmental organisation with physical presence and wide active membership across all the South Western States of Nigeria. We established it five years ago and we have been quite active in the area of social welfare support, micro credit support, women and youth empowerment, healthcare improvement, community development and cultural renewal.
Our objective has always included healthcare services, empowerment through training and financial support, social welfare and protection against domestic violence. I am happy to affirm our resounding success on these issues. I can continue to recount our achievements but I think our most reliable witnesses have always been the people. There is hardly any sector where our impact is not being felt in all the places we are working. We haven’t done enough. We cannot address all the problems in the society, but we will continue to take one more step per time towards enhancing lives, families and communities.
SENS: You must have been supported by a huge staff and lots of money. How did you manage to accumulate so many resources?
SENS: You said you’re commissioning two medical centers this year. How do you intend to sustain it?
Queen: It is true we are opening two ultramodern primary healthcare medical centers in 2018, one of which will happen today. The bigger pict
SENS: You seem to care a lot about less privileged people but you are definitely not poor. Is there any particular reason why you care so much?
QUEEN: Growing up was tough but it got to a point I promised God I would set up a Foundation providing help for the poor and vulnerable people if he would grant me success in life. God answered my prayers, and now, I am merely fulfilling my pledge. That is the summary of all the experiences that have defined my life. I need to add that none of this would have been possible without the support of my husband and my team. I love what I do, but a lot of people have given me the opportunity to do those things. They care about people as much as I do, and we share the same values.