Former deputy governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, in a new
interview with Punch newspaper has recounted her best moments while in
In the interview she talked about her marriage, political reign,
son and more, see Highlights below:
Her take on her son’s recent marriage: Marriage is
something most parents look forward to and I had looked forward to that
especially for my first son. Even for my daughter, I am praying that
very soon her husband would come. When my son showed me his girl and
eventually told us that he would like to get married to her, we were
excited. Many people looked forward to the marriage. I could feel that a
lot of people were looking forward to the opportunity to give me the
required support. I was so excited and I give glory to God that I was
alive to witness my son’s wedding. She is a very nice girl. In the past,
I used to be a bit cautious about inter-ethnic marriages. But these
days, you find out that love is the most important thing. You don’t have
to choose a wife for your son or a husband for your daughter. You just
guide and counsel them on the way to go. Tell them not to look at
riches. Marriage is everlasting. Wedding is one day, courtship is for a
period of time. It is who your soul clicks with that you should marry. I
thank God he found a soul mate, a professional and all the things I
looked forward to in a daughter in-law. In fact, she is my daughter.
Her profession as a teacher: I never dreamt
I would be a teacher. It was by accident or maybe destiny that I ended
up being a teacher. It is what has helped me to where I am today.
Initially, I had wanted to be a nurse. I had been admitted to the
nursing school after I had passed the aptitude test. We had been given
admission but on a second thought, I asked myself if I could really face
it. I have a phobia for injections. I can’t stand the sight of blood.
So I had to think about it real good and did something about it. But I
had a cousin who I used to take care of. She had lost her parents. Her
father was one of my favourite uncles. I didn’t just want to leave my
cousin idling away, I decided to go and get a teacher training form for
her. I looked at the ambience of the school and I liked it. The students
were smartly dressed. I learnt they had a one-year course for those who
had school certificate; I then decided to pick the form for myself. I
said if I went in there and I didn’t like it, I would opt out and look
for something else to do. Most of my friends were already in the trading
business and they kept asking me when I would join them. But I didn’t
want to do that. I already had my school certificate and I wanted to
read up to university degree. That was how I enrolled into the teacher
Teachers are perceived to be very strict and ‘wicked.’ Were you described as such: “Sincerely,
I was very strict. But I think it has to do with the training we got.
We were trained to be firm and disciplined. You must have such
characteristics before you try to instill them in children. That
influenced my lifestyle. I always want things to be done properly, I
never liked half measures. I am very strict when it comes to anything
that has to do with work. When my kids were growing up, they would bring
their homework to me and I would try to teach them. If they didn’t get
it right, I would take my rod and beat them. These days, when they talk
about it, they laugh and say ‘mummy, you really dealt with us o.’ But
you know, in school, you cannot really use the rod. Most times, you
would rather punish them. But then, you would wonder why it was
difficult for these children to understand what they were being taught.
But as I grew to become a mature teacher, I discovered that you just
don’t teach them, you also relate what you are teaching them with real
life situations and they would remember.
For somebody who was an educationist, would you say you
made an impact when you were the commissioner for education in Lagos
When I decided that this would be my profession, I gave it my passion
and commitment. I remember that the issues of having challenges in the
educational sector didn’t start today. Then in 1978 or so during
(Lateef) Jakande’s era, there were challenges in the classroom then. We
had three classes merged as a class due to inadequate classrooms and two
teachers handled the class. It is not a new thing. It is just that
government will continue to try and overcome these challenges. You know
that head teachers can be somewhat overbearing. But I wouldn’t want
anybody to chastise or scold me over something I ought to have done. I
made sure I did my work perfectly. No inspector would come and find that
I derailed. I have always had passion for this. So when I look back, it
has been in me to do things right. Even when I was in the inspectorate
(I served in the Inspectorate Department of the Lagos State Ministry of
Education), everybody knew me for discipline. As commissioner and a
professional teacher, I knew what we were facing in the sector. I knew
the challenges. So it was impossible for me to be there and would not be
able to do the things I had recommended that should be done all the
years. God put me in a position to change things and I thank God that
the team I worked with was so hard-working. Our governor gave us all the
support. Before the Inspectorate, I worked at the State Universal
Primary Education Board formerly known as State Primary Education Board.
We didn’t work like civil servants in that department. We would work as
late as 10pm. Leadership sometimes influences the way you work. We were
joyous in doing what we did.
How did you feel when you were called to be Governor Babatunde Fashola’s running mate back then? Did you expect it?
I never expected such. I was in SUPEB then. That day was a Holy Ghost
service day. I was just waiting for my driver to arrive from an errand
so that we could close and go home. I got a call from Alausa. I didn’t
know anybody there. Apart from going to the Ministry of Education, I
wasn’t familiar with the political terrain. So I got the call that I
should come to Alausa. I wondered what the problem could be. The calls
came repeatedly and I told the caller I was waiting for my driver. I was
told it was urgent and that I should just leave my driver and come
over. I just had to go. I was then given the news.
You must have been excited…
No, I wasn’t! Naturally, I don’t get blown away with news easily. I
don’t allow things to get me easily excited. I took the news calmly. We
discussed. When I got there, I saw one of my fathers. He is late now. He
was a member of the board of SUPEB. He was from my axis. He was my
father’s colleague politically. He was the one that nominated me. I am
sure my father never expected that I would get into politics. I never
showed interest in such apart from going with them to vote. But then
again, I would remember that in 2003, the Peoples Democratic Party was
looking for a running mate for the late Funsho Williams. They went to
our division looking for who they felt deserved the position.
Eventually, they came to me as well. The governorship candidate saw my
resume and said I fitted what he wanted. But there was a snag.
What was the snag?
They had wanted a Muslim running mate for him. I come from a Muslim
background and they asked me if I could switch my religion but I
refused. Then again, my father wasn’t in support of it. I wasn’t a
politician, my father was the politician. I remember vividly that my
husband was on the phone with the late Funsho Williams for over one hour
and he was telling him to try and make me change my mind. So in 2006,
this other opportunity now came. So I think it is God’s will in the
right direction. So I didn’t need to change my religion.
Were people disappointed when you were appointed?
Of course yes. Some people wondered how I would come out of the blues
and be given such a position. But they eventually gave their support.
They eventually accepted and we worked together.
Didn’t your husband feel somehow intimidated by your elevated status?
It is natural. Any one that is married to any woman in top position
would prepare his mind for such. By then, you wouldn’t feel bad.
Initially, I am sure, deep down inside of him, he might not have been
very comfortable. The focus would just be on the wife. I think a husband
that is wise should prepare his mind for such. It is just to stay back
and allow the wife to continue with her thing and come back home and
meet you. Being a mature person, he gave me all the support and with the
trust he had in me, it made it easier. Sometimes, I would just call him
from work and tell him I was going to Abuja. It happened so many times.
Take away the prestige that comes with it, is it really easy to be the number two person in a state?
As it is not easy with No 1, it is not easy with No 2. My portfolio –
education, happened to be one of the key areas of development. It
needed a lot of attention and details. We faced a lot of challenges. It
wasn’t easy, I must confess. At times, I would sleep for just three
hours. I gave my work so much fervor. It wasn’t easy but I enjoyed it so
much. People see most positions as if you have everything and you must
meet their needs. It is not only in the political sector. We get a lot
of requests. Nigerians tend to attach so many things to these offices.
We are salary earners. Oh yes we have allowances. So if you sit down to
distribute all you get every month, how would you take care of your
Do you miss being a deputy governor?
I would say I enjoyed the work part, I have to be sincere. Everybody
loves good things. It is good to be in a top position so far you manage
it properly. I miss it but I still don’t miss it. When I remember the
challenges that come with the position, I think twice about missing it.
If I were still there, I wouldn’t be relaxing like this. I thank God my
party is still the ruling party. We still have the opportunity to
Your husband must have been happy that you didn’t go back for the second term…
Yes. He said, ‘thank God, at least I can have my wife to myself now.’
The children were happy. But then, things have not changed that much.
It is not just as hectic. You are still called to do one or two things. I
attend meetings and programmes. These may not have been things one was
Did you have time to cook for him back then?
I will not lie, I would cook just once in a while when he would
insist that he would rather eat the vegetable soup I prepared. He would
say the way I prepare it is usually different from the way other people
prepare it. So at very few occasions, I would just make the meal for
Would you insist he sat on the high table with you each time he followed you to an event?
I have always enjoyed dancing. When we go to parties, I would tell
him to just go home. He is used to that. But then, if I am called to a
high table, courtesy demands I go with him. I would always tell the
moderator that I came with my spouse.
Do you still dance?
I still dance very well. It is one thing I do very well. I dance to
any kind of music. I dance disco, traditional dance and everything.
Is it goodbye to politics now?
It is not. I am still an active politician. I know the future is
still bright. As one ages, you get more mature. This work needs you to
be strong. It needs wisdom and maturity. It is not goodbye to politics.
Why do we still have this perception in Nigeria that any woman in high position got there through ‘bottom power’?
It is so unfortunate that we reason like that in this part of the
world. But I think it is even eroding. Many women have been able to
prove it. I just told you how I came into the office without being a
politician. We have so many women at the top now, would you say that all
of them slept their way to the top? Lagos State government gives women a
lot of attention especially in the service. Gender balancing is superb.
High level of illiteracy before now was accountable for such
As a politician, how do you see the way politics is going now?
Where we are today has to do with leadership. Our leaders have to
look and think about what they are doing. The comfort they have today is
through the sweat of some people. You don’t know what will happen the
next second. They have to learn how to use this power God has given
them. They need to fear God. Political position is not hereditary, it is
by chance. It is God that promotes and when you are there and you don’t
change the lives of people, it is bad. As we are going to vote,
nobody’s blood is worth being shed for anyone to be in power. The
violence all around is just too much. God will help this nation.