Wives of Cross River, Niger, Kebbi and Lagos States’ governors are medical doctors by profession. In this report, ABU NMODU, Minna; GEORGE OKOGIE, Lagos; RICHARD NDOMA, Calabar; and KABIR WURMA, Birnin Kebbi, tell their stories on what they are doing to assist their husband-governors in fixing the health sector and others in thier respective states.
Niger: Dr. Amina Abubakar
Wife of Niger State governor, Dr. Amina Abubakar Sani-Bello is a Gynaecologist and an Obstetrician. She graduated from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.
She was into private practice before her husband won election in 2015 as the governor of Niger State and when he assumed office, she volunteered to work at a section of Minna General Hospital.
According to her, “I go to work three times a week or less depending on what my other responsibilities demand of me. Before my husband became governor, I have had the burden of how to reduce maternal and child mortality in the country no matter how small.”
She added that when her husband became governor, “I found this as an avenue to assist him in that area. I have been able to do a few things around maternal mortality.”
Some of her contributions include the provision of free delivery kits to 1,318 pregnant women in the 25 local government areas of the state to encourage them during antenatal and to ensure they have their babies at primary health care centers close to them.
It was so because of complaints of their inability to provide the basic childbirth requirments in the hospital, hence women give birth at home which has led to many complications and even death.
“I have provided 12 improvised tricycle ambulances which have been distributed to the three senatorial zones in the state to assist in conveying pregnant women to any primary health care center near them,” Dr. Amina said.
She has carried out free VVF surgeries for 326 women who had the challenge as a result of childbirth.
She also trains women in different skills to enable them take care of themselves and be self-reliant.
Similarly she has conducted sensitizations and pay advocacy visits to traditional rulers in all the eight Emirates in the state to encourage their people to attend anteatal and delivery in hospitals.
Also, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, she produced sensitization video and audio clips in English and Hausa languages to educate the people on the dangers of the disease and how to protect themselves and their families.
She is doing all the advocacies through her pet project called Raise Foundation. The Foundation is particularly to ensure that no woman dies of pregnancy-related complications.
Through her Foundation, she has made tremendous contributions to all levels of healthcare delivery in the state apart from offering free services at the Minna General Hospital.
Dr. Amina Sani-Bello has by her knowledge of the health sector attracted collaborations and partnerships, which has further enhanced healthcare delivery in Niger state.
Cross River: Dr. Linda Ayade
Dr. Linda Ayade is the wife of the governor of Cross River State. To start with, she was solidly behind her husband, Governor Ben Ayade, throughout the period when the state government launched the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
She ensured several persons with no financial wherewithal particularly within the hinterlands of the state get succour, through the palliatives given to some persons in rural communities.
Dr. Linda also embarked sensitisation of market women on the adherence of COVID-19 protocols in order to avoid further spread.
Through her pet project, Mediatrix Development Foundation (MDF), which is an NGO, one of its cardinal objectives is focusing on a fundemental principle of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of ‘leaving no one behind’ with regards to health challenges.
MDF is a health-focused organisation with activities revolving majorly around health interventions and health promotion targeting in particular the less privileged and vulnerable in the society – with a focus on women and children.
Apart from using her Foundation to embark sensitisation of market women and the less-privileged on how to manage themselves in the era of COVID-19, and donation of palliatives to this category of persons, the First Lady also donated items which include hand washing soaps, hand sanitizers and face masks to the people.
She also supported in the upgrading of the health facilities in the refugees camp in Ogoja LGA of the state.
According to her citation made available to LEADERSHIP Friday by her media officer, it shows that Dr. Linda Ugianugwuye Ayade holds MBBS, MPA, with MBA in International Health Management in view.
Linda as she is fondly called by friends and associates was born in the early 1970s in her native hometown of Obudu LGA of the state.
She had her early education partly in Cross River and Enugu States before proceeding to the University of Port Harcourt where she obtained her MBBS degree.
She belongs associations like the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the General Medical Council, United Kingdom where she underwent rigorous training in both clinical and public health practice.
She is currently engrossed with the running of her pet projects – the Mediatrix Development Foundation and the Cross River Women Emancipation Initiative (CROWEI).
Her organization, Mediatrix Foundation, has been working closely with major international bodies like the UNFPA, UNICAF, United Purpose and others.
Recently her NGO Mediatrix Foundation started new partnership with the UNHCR for a livelihood project for the Cameroonian Refugees who fled to Cross River state for safety following the Anglophone-Francophone crisis in their country.
Other activities which Ayade’s wife had involved herself since her husband came on board as Governor of the state include her involvement in programmes that alleviate poverty and economic emancipation for women and children in the state.
She also formed a group called Cross River Women Emancipation Initiative (CROWEI), which later metamorphosed to another NGO with its main focus on raising the economic index of rural women thereby improving their overall living conditions
As one who is interested in making life meaningful to rural women, through her NGOs she engaged herself in the rural women livelihood empowerment for small businesses and improved crop yield.
She is working tirelessly to ensure a wider coverage of this feat across the state.
Lagos: Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu
Wife of Lagos State governor, Dr. (Mrs) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, could be decribed as one serving to save lives.
From the beginning, service has been her watchword. Before becoming the First Lady of Lagos State, Ibijoke’s life has been that of service.
Dr. Ibijoke is the first medical practioner to become the First Lady of Lagos State. She is an exceptional combination of beauty and intellect. She has been passionately consistent with her abiding faith to save lives and make the world a better place.
Born on January 8, 1967 to the family of Paulinus Olusegun Carrena of Popoaguda, a Brazilian descendant area of Lagos Island, Ibijoke holds Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S) from the prestigious University of Lagos, Akoka. She also has in her academic kitty a Post Graduate Diploma in Hospital and Health Management (PGDHM); Diploma in Anesthesia (DA); Masters of Public Health (MPH) and Masters in Business Administration (MBA).
A thoroughbred medical practitioner who represents the league of the brightest minds and pride of the profession, Ibijoke is an active member of Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), Lagos Anesthetic Association (LAA), Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN) and Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials (COWLSO) where she is currently serving as the Chairman.
Prior to becoming the First Lady, Ibijoke served Lagos State Government meritoriously for 25 years rising through the ranks to become the Chief Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer of Harvey Road Comprehensive Health Centre, Yaba; and later General Hospital, Somolu.
The first area she proved her mettle as a medical practitioner par excellence was when upon assumption of office, she got herself actively involved in the Lagos State Healthy Bee Project, a free health initiative carried out by the State Government in partnership with Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu/Kadri Obafemi Hamzat (BOSKOH) Health Care Mission International, an offspring of Sanwo Cares and Independent Campaign Group (ICG).
The programme, which was designed to positively impact a critical mass of Lagos population through specialized medical services, achieved remarkable success and contributed significantly to the bid of the present administration to revamp, rejuvenate and reposition healthcare delivery in the state, especially in the area of assisting the less privileged members of the society.
Specifically, Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Eye Surgery, Dental Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, and Adult Eye Surgery were carried out at General Hospitals in Lagos, Badagry, Onikan, Randle, Gbagada, Orile Agege, Ikorodu, Epe and Massey Children’s Hospital, with health screening done at Primary Healthcare Centers across the State including Ajara, Badagry; Akerele, Surulere; Iga-Iduganran, Lagos Island; Epe in Epe; Ikotun in Alimosho; Onigbogbo in Ikeja; and Ita-Elewa in IKorodu.
At the end of the exercise which lasted for a month, over 21,000 people received free health screening and treatment out of which 3,157 surgeries were carried out for residents.
Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu’s impact in COWLSO, a platform through which wives of the officials of the State Government has been profound. She had overtime used this platform to promote child healthcare, empower women to discover their hidden treasures and protect the environment, among others.
In furtherance of the above, Ibijoke introduced a novel initiative of recognizing and appreciating the contributions of elders to the successes recorded by COWLSO through a program tagged ‘Senior Citizens’ Visit’. The essence of the visit is to basically appreciate senior citizens and to identify with them in whatever they are going through.
At the last count, from July 2019 when the initiative was birthed till date over 45 senior citizens have been visited with gifts and other items. Apart from giving senior citizens a sense of belonging, the elders in turn have also offered insightful and useful counsel on how to deepen the ideals of COWLSO to positively impact humanity.
A passionate lover of women and children, the First Lady has also been a strong voice and a leading light in the advocacy against all forms of sexual abuse and domestic violence against women and children. For her, such bestial acts must be stamped out of our society and she is relentlessly pursuing that with the desired vigour and candour.
Another area which the First Lady has not hidden her bias is that of health and environment. Interestingly, the second pillar of the developmental agenda of the present administration for greater Lagos otherwise known as T.H.E.M.E.S talks about Health and Environment.
T.H.E.M.E.S is an acronym which encapsulates the vision of Lagos State for Traffic Management and Transportation; Health and Environment; Education and Technology; Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy; Entertainment and Tourism; as well as Security and Governance.
Also, the Lagos First Lady has been strongly involved in another medical mission carried out by the State Government in partnership with Benjamin Olowojebutu Foundation to mark the 100 days of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s impactful administration. Through that intervention, free surgeries were carried out for 150 residents suffering from Lipomas, Breast Lumps, Hernia and Fibroid, with additional Free Consultation and Free Dental Check at General Hospital, Ijede.
She has equally been visible in a number of health advocacy interventions, including the need for residents to key into the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme, a game changer that will greatly facilitate the Universal Health Coverage plan of the State Government.
One programme she initiated that endeared her to numerous Lagosians is the medical assistance, financial assistance to students done through the ‘Adopt A Student Project,’ creating more awareness to women, building more youth centres, and a lot of health interventions, among others.
On this she said, “In our tenure by the grace of God, we would be looking more at medical assistance and financial assistance to students. In this direction, there is a project called ‘Adopt A Student in UNILAG (University of Lagos) which we are going to embark on to assist our children as much as possible so that they can finish their education. We are going to combine efforts of what my predecessors have done and that includes creating more awareness and building more youth centres. A lot of health interventions would be taking place by the grace of God”.
In the area of environment, the Lagos First Lady has also been at the vanguard of advocacy for residents, especially women to embrace the Blue Box Program of the Lagos State Government, among other initiatives to engender clean, healthier, livable and sustainable environment. The Blue Box Program, which is being implemented by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), is designed to encourage waste sorting, especially from source of generation.
In response to the new normal thrown up by COVID-19 pandemic, the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu at various times took awareness campaign about Coronavirus disease to different markets in the state, emphasizing the need for residents of the state to maintain personal hygiene and strengthen their immune system.
Through the Office of First Lady, Dr. (Mrs) Claudiana Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu on July 29, 2020 in company of members of the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials donated 5,000 transistor radios, 5,000 face masks and cash to Ministry of Education in a bid to ramp up access to learning for our pupils and students especially in the rural areas and riverine communities.
She said, ‘’As a pragmatic organisation with the vision to complement efforts of the State Government in critical sectors, COWLSO is delighted to contribute its quota to ensure that about one million children who are at home as a result of closure of schools have access to educational contents on radio. Our objective is that no child should be left behind in access to quality education.’’
Behind every successful man, they say there is a strong, wise and hardworking woman. It is, therefore, not surprising when in his testimonial, Lagos State governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has this to say about his wife: “I can attest to the Bible verse that says, He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord. You (Ibijoke) have not only been my wife, you have also been my prayer partner, my confidant, my number one supporter, my happy place, and most importantly, my peace. Ibijoke mi, your commitment of service to Lagosians continues to delight me because you are my pillar of support and epitome of love.”
Kebbi: Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu
Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, wife of Kebbi state governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, is another medical doctor by profession. Born to the family of Late Alhaji Umaru Aliyu Shinkafi, a former boss of the defucnt NSO, in Shinkafi town of present-day Zamfara State.
She became the governor’s wife even before Governor Bagudu got elected as governor in 2015.
Upon election of her husband as governor of Kebbi State, she immediately swung into action by charting a course for herself as regards moving the state health sector forward.
First, she established a non-governmental organization (NGO) called MedicAid Foundation, which diagnoses patients of cancer in the state capital, Birnin Kebbi.
Statistics available from the Foundation shows that from 2016 to date, it has cured no fewer than 5,000 patients both women and men from cancer.
Similarly, when COVID-19 outbreak was announced in the country, Dr. Zainab kicked off a campaign against the virus in all the 21 local government areas of the state where she visited alongside the wives of the local government council chairmen.
During the campaigns, she told the rural women the importance of using face mask, hand-washing, sanitizers and social distancing in order to keep the disease at bay.
She thereafter donated face masks, sanitizers and other clinical equipment worth millions of naira to the state government’s anti-COVID-19 fight. She also organised meetings and symposium on the importance of measures adopted by both the Federal and State Task Forces on COVID-19 to arrest the spread of the virus.
Moreover, during the annual distribution of relief packages to the families of dead NUJ members organized by the state council of the Union in May this year, Dr. Zainab presented her intervention comprising food items, cloth materials and cash to the beneficiary families.
It will be recalled Dr. Zainab had invited renowned Medical Doctors from outside the state in December 2017 and 2018 for free medical outreach services sponsored by the state government.
Above all, whenever she is informed of a patient’s admission with a strange disease or ailment in any government or private-owned hospital, she does not hesitate to go and assist the patient professionally and otherwise.
She make sure that all the health days such as World Breast Feeding, Cancer, Blind, Sickle Cell Days, e.t.c are observed in Kebbi State.