The different roles that I have played in the corporate world have prepared me for what I am going into now.
Mrs. Oluwayemisi Busari is the deputy governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State. An accomplished legal practitioner with almost three decades of experience in the areas of corporate governance, litigation and commercial law practice. Her intellectual ability, extensive network, dogged determination, resilience, and excellent people skills have often enabled her to cut through complex legal issues, producing consistent added value and enduring results. Busari who has joined the 2019 political fray spoke with Sunday Sun on how the PDP would restore the glory of Lagos. She also talked about her journey through many companies.
Please give us a snapshot of what the average Lagosian needs to know about your background.
I am the last child in a family of five; all my siblings are much older than me. At a very young age, I learnt to be independent, I love interior decoration, I am passionate about impacting people positively and trying to make things better in everything I do, even as little as cooking. I had my first degree in English and went on to study Law and obtained a Master’s degree (LLM). I also got Master of Business Administration (MBA). I have attended several courses locally and internationally and attended the first WIMBOD Course organized by WIMBIZ for women. I have also been in the corporate world as a Company Secretary and Head of Legal. I am happily married with children.
How politically prepared are you coming from the corporate world?
Everybody says the corporate world is different from politics, but I beg to disagree because in the corporate world, we have people and wherever we have a gathering of people, and they come in different characters, personality and attitudes. Politics is also a combination of people who are gathered to play. In the corporate world we play more by rules while people do not play by the rules in politics, but the fact remains that we are dealing with people who come in different shades and sizes. The different roles that I have played in the corporate world have prepared me for what I am going into now. I have been in the corporate world for the last 30 years and have worked in different roles. I have been a negotiator, influencer, and project manager. These are the things I require in politics. My ability to negotiate and influence will go a long way to help achieve what I want. Having been a project manager will help us execute our set projects. I have the ability to start something and finish it. This is one of the things we will bring to bear in government if elected because we will make sure that whatever project we are handling, we will follow through, monitor and make sure we finish it. So I think that my experience in the corporate world would definitely assist me to discharge my duties in the political world.
Competent women have emerged several times as deputies, but when the time comes for them to move on and become governors, they are shoved out, where will this take you to?
In my own situation, I was invited to serve as deputy governor. I am not sure it is automatic to become a governor because one had been a deputy governor. It is a function of my passion and where I see myself.
Would you say that the structure of your party is gender friendly?
Oh yes, it is. I am not aware that my party may restrict women from political positions. It is a function of individual differences.
What are the gender issues that you would like to address in Lagos State?
Being a woman, there are a couple of natural things that I would like to be involved in. I am interested in children and their wellbeing particularly the female children because they would be the future wives and mothers who also nurture. I will also be interested in female education and entrepreneurship. Lagos is a commercial centre. All the opportunities around women to allow them stand on their own and have financial freedom will interest me. I will be interested in health because we lose a lot of lives at the point of childbirth and other things that should not take people’s lives in the 21st century. Healthcare for women will really get my attention.
How do you intend to bring change in governance in the state?
There are a couple of things that could be done better. We are all victims of Lagos traffic. You cannot do two meetings in Lagos presently. We have to think out of the box. We have built everywhere in Lagos and cannot expand our road network anymore; we are going to make sure that we maintain all our roads. Lagos is surrounded by water and the question is what are we going to put in place to ease the traffic gridlock? What stops us from having good ferries that can move people from one point to the other? That will definitely reduce the traffic. These are the kind of things we need to do to improve on the existing infrastructure that we have, bearing in mind the hindrances that are already being experienced.
What about the lawlessness, how will you bring orderliness in that state? It is very fundamental but we need to look at people’s intelligence quotient (IQ). The average Lagosian is frustrated and when people find themselves in such situations, they tend to do things anyhow. Why are people frustrated? It is because nothing works. A man who has been in traffic for hours and when he finally gets to his destination, he is further frustrated because there is no organised parking lot. He gets home; there is no electrical source of power. That is one of the cardinal points of our government: delivering on our promise. The starting point will be that all the normal amenities and infrastructure that make a city liveable will be restored. When you put in legislation that stops people from doing certain things, and you have not given them the alternative, how would you want them to live? That is my thinking and the thinking of my party as well. When all these are put in place, people will live well, that is why people abroad seem to live better. A man will have a bite on the road and will not discard the debris on the road, rather would walk to the bin and throw it in the bin because they are not frustrated. He is a happy human being; the society is providing all that he needs to be comfortable with. He is living a decent life. Our focus will be to put things in place to restore the glory of Lagos. Until these things are put in place, it will be unfair to enforce legislation without giving people what they require to live comfortably.
Will the Jimi Agbaje administration allow women head key ministries like Finance, Health, Education, Commerce and Industry?
The duo of Jimi Agbaje and Yemisi Busari, when elected as governor and deputy governor of Lagos State, intend to be a responsible government. As a government what we intend to do is to use people who are achievers, responsible and would help to impact and build a new Lagos. If these people are women who have the skills, they will be given a fair opportunity to serve. Once we have people who have the right skills, right knowledge doing the job, we will immediately see the results. But if we put an engineer in the health, that ministry will not perform because a square peg is in a round hole.
Coming from the corporate world, how would you manage godsons who will be settled?
I agree with you that it happens in politics, but one fact is clear. Even in the political space where some interests are looked after, the fact remains that in recognizing those interests, we must still look at the greater good. I still insist that within the political structure, they may have said that certain slots should be given to some people, yes, but you will tell them to bring the best. Nigeria is a blessed country, and if I bring it down to Lagos, Lagosians are very enlightened people and well educated. I am not talking about the indigenes alone because Lagos is a commercial hub. Lagosians consist of all the people that contribute to the economy of Lagos. The point I am making is that in that space, we have a lot of people; but one fact is clear that even in doing those things, we will still seek for people who will be relevant in such places and it is doable.
What is the primary specific thing you want to do for Lagosians?
I want to ensure that there is an enabling environment for women to survive, both at the market and office levels. I strongly believe in the role of women in the society. I advocate that women must be financially independent. Our market must function so that women will support their families and community. The government must make sure to put incentives in place that would facilitate businesses generally and I am particularly interested in making sure that women get all the incentives that would make their enterprise function.
How is life as a politician now?
The last six weeks have been very exciting for me. I am encouraged because I see a lot of opportunities and hope for Lagos. I am also encouraged to be a part of achieving that Lagos for everybody. I am praying that we will be given that chance by the electorate to serve and show them what we have in stock for them.
In my interaction with people in the past few weeks, I have seen that people are frustrated. This frustration is borne out of an unfriendly environment and I believe that if all of these issues are addressed and people are relaxed and happy, things will definitely be better.
Your party has tried twice to win the governorship, what would you do differently this time to make sure you win the election?
We’ve done it two times and didn’t get it, but I feel that this time it will be different. The strong person is that person who is able to learn and rise after making mistakes. We are going to attack the issue that people want. We are going to look at people’s pains, needs and see how we can address them. When I grew up in Lagos, people did not go to private hospitals even the rich because that was where the experience was.
We had consultants in all the departments. Now our public hospitals are at the dead end. Those are the things we will do differently to make sure that Lagos is liveable. We will give access to health care, where you would not be told to provide materials for a patient. I was born in Island Maternity Hospital of the old.
What word do you have for the electorate?
To the admirers of JK and myself we should come out and vote. It is not enough to say we believe in Jimi Agbaje and Yemisi Busari, only to stay back at home and do not vote.