Mrs Haleemat Busari emerged the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State ahead of the 2019 general elections. A lawyer, she reveals how she became Jimi Agbaje’s running-mate to Kemi Ashefon.
First, what makes you think you and your principal, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, of the Peoples Democratic Party, will win the 2019 governorship election in Lagos?
The people of Lagos State are tired of the current system and want genuine change. I believe that our ticket is a strong one; it consists of people who grew up in Lagos and are genuinely interested in moving it to where it should belong.
We have a team full of people with ideas, people who are ready to deliver and change Lagos for good, so I am confident that we’ll win the election next year.
Most deputy governors in Nigeria are rendered redundant by their principals; do you think you can put up with this?
One of the first things I asked my principal at the point of engagement was if he was looking for a ‘spare tyre’ deputy or one that would work hand-in-hand with him in moving Lagos forward. What he told me was that he was looking for somebody who they would do the work together. It was at that point I agreed to be his running mate.
I think my selection was more of what I have done in the past and my life spoke for me. I don’t believe in maintaining the status quo. In my own way, we hold discussion and engage young people intellectually. I think I stood out for my integrity, friendliness and more. JK felt he could work well with me. So, I think that my principal and I would work closely to move Lagos forward by the time we get into office.
How were you selected for the position?
My work and antecedents spoke for me. Until recently when I was announced as the running mate of Mr. Jimi Agbaje, I was the Group Head, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Honeywell Group. I held that position for more than 20 years.
Before now, I have been involved in various engagements on how to move Lagos and Nigeria forward, so at a point, I think I was noticed. I am really grateful for being considered for this role.
How did you react when you were selected?
I prayed to God and asked Him if it was what he wanted for me. It took me several days of consultations with God and my husband before I finally made up my mind to accept the offer.
So, do you think that women are beginning to get the chance they deserve in terms of being considered for political offices in Nigeria?
I will like to look at it from the perspective of if women are presenting themselves for such positions. Women must begin to understand that only they can empower themselves.
Women can naturally multi-task and they have smart minds; they must use these attributes to their advantage as far as politics in Nigeria is concerned.
You have been in and out of several boardrooms in the course of your career, what lessons have that taught you?
I have really learnt a lot of lessons in the boardroom. One of them is that you must be hard-working and always be on top of your game. I have also learnt to always defend what I believe in.
Life in the boardroom has taught me never to be afraid of speaking the truth. It taught me to be always prepared before every meeting.
What would be your advice to women who are afraid of attaining this position in politics?
First, women should get away from the myth that we are weak and helpless. We are human beings with different God-given abilities. As women, we should learn to plan our lives and harness our abilities. You have children? Yes. You have to take care of your husband? Yes. You have a career? Yes. I am a great believer in financial independence for women. Though I am traditional, I believe this. A woman must work because even the Holy Books advises it. Put infrastructure in place that will make you successful in your career—get support from family, your husband and others. Some of us have mothers, some don’t. If you don’t have mothers, pay for it.
Also, most importantly, you must learn to have your husband in your corner. He will allow you fly and do what you want to do. Its about facing your realities and thinking it through.