Working Lives

Working Lives: The Teacher Who Wants to Become the First Female Governor of Oyo State

Working Lives: The Teacher Who Wants to Become the First Female Governor of Oyo State

“I love politics. My ultimate goal is to become the first female governor of Oyo State. You might say it is unrealistic in Nigeria but I believe nothing is impossible to achieve especially with God on your side. I will go into politics fully after I retire from the civil service”.

What is your name?

My name is Oluwatoyin Ojo.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up at Mokola in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Tell me about your family?

My parents are from Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State. They are based in Ibadan. My father is a retired civil servant. He worked at the Ministry of Works before his retirement. My mother is a trader, she used to sell foodstuffs at one of the popular markets in Ibadan. She now sells beverages and foodstuffs in front of the house. I am the second child of four children. I have two brothers and a sister. I am married with three children. My husband works in the private sector.

Tell me about your education?

I had my primary education at St. Paul Primary School, Mokola. I proceeded to St. Brigid’s Group of Schools where I had my secondary education. I sat for my final examinations but my results came out really bad. I stayed at home for two years assisting my mother with her business. I worked as a sales girl in my mother’s shop. After two years, my mum purchased GCE form for me. I sat for the exams and I passed excellently. Thereafter, I purchased JAMB form to study Political Science at Adekunle Ajasin University. Sadly, I was not given an admission offer. So, I thought to apply to a College of Education instead of sitting another year at home. I got admitted to College of Education, Lanlate, to study Social Studies. After I graduated, I got a teaching job at a primary school in Ibadan. I enrolled in a long-distance program at University of Ibadan while I was working. I graduated from the University of Ibadan in 2004. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.

Why did you decide to train as a teacher?

I had no intentions to become a teacher. All I have ever wanted was to become a politician. I went to a College of Education because I was tired of staying at home. My parents and siblings had turned me to an errand girl. I was not allowed to go out or visit friends. I felt I was caged and I got frustrated. So, going to a College of Education was a perfect escape route for me. That was where I started my journey of becoming a teacher. I have been teaching for over 20 years.

How did you get your first teaching job?

The Oyo State Government was recruiting teachers in 1999. I came across the advertisement online. I submitted my credentials at the Ministry of Education, and I got called for a written interview few weeks after. I had no friends or relatives at the Ministry but I trusted God all the way. I got the job eventually.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Teacher Who is Tired of Jumping Molue Buses

What was your salary and what do you earn now?

The salary was very low. My first salary was N29,000. However, it has fairly increased now. Our salaries and bonuses are paid but sometimes they get delayed. The government has not really been treating teachers well in terms of welfare.

Is your salary sufficient for your needs?

No. My salary is not as much as people think it is. I always have expenses to sort out even before my salary gets paid. I give my parents money for their upkeep every month. I also assist my husband in taking care of our family i.e., feeding, clothing, our children’s tuition fees etc. My children attend a boarding school. I am sure everyone knows how expensive boarding schools are.

What are the main things you spend on?

I spend on transportation, feeding and clothing.

What other things do you do that fetches an income?

I have no other job or business. I only work as a teacher.

Do you have savings?

Yes, I do. I have two bank accounts where I save my money.

Is the PTA in your school active?

Yes. We hold PTA meetings once in a month. That is our only avenue to interact with parents and update them on their children’s performances. We also share ideas with parents on how to take care and monitor their children at home so that they will not forget all that they have been taught in school.

What part of your job makes you happy?

I am happy with my job generally. Most people get surprised each time I tell them that I am a teacher. Asides being a teacher, I love children; I love to play with them, buy them gifts etc. you can easily forget your problems when you are with children. They will always do things that will make you smile or laugh. Children are gifts from God.

Why do you think even average Nigerians e.g., taxi drivers, do not send their children to public schools?

Everybody wants their children to speak good English. So, they believe they can only get that quality in private schools. Some parents would go extra miles to raise money for their children to attend private schools. They do not understand that public school teachers are professionals. The government would not employ anyone who is not qualified to teach. Private schools could employ anyone who can speak good English. I can tell you confidently that our students speak good English. In fact, any student in my school who communicates in another language other than English language gets penalized. Public schools have really improved from what they used to be in the past. People can now get quality education for little money.

Can you describe some of the students whose success really made you happy?

When I got transferred from my first primary school, the students and their parents organized a surprise send off party for me. The school also supported them. The students that I taught and had graduated also came around to celebrate me. They gifted me a fridge. I was really surprised at their kind gesture. I never saw it coming. Some of the students I taught are doing well in their chosen fields. I feel excited each time I think about my students, both old and new. I pray for them every day.

Also Read: Working Lives: The Primary School Teacher Who Has Not Been Promoted in 12 Years

How can the government make teaching more rewarding?

The government should increase teachers’ salaries and ensure they get paid as and when due. Transportation has been a major setback for teachers. The government should provide staff buses for all public schools. Accommodation should be provided around the school premises. The government can build staff quarters in the school premises or close to the schools. Teachers’ welfare should be priority to the government.

Would you pursue your political ambition?

Yes. I love politics. My ultimate goal is to become the first female governor of Oyo State. You might say it is unrealistic in Nigeria but I believe nothing is impossible to achieve especially with God on your side. I will go into politics fully after I retire from the civil service. I intend to make my presence known and build my network by contesting for the House of Representatives in Oyo State.

Obande Friday

Friday is a Mass Communication graduate of The Polytechnic of Ibadan. He has four years of content development experience. He loves lifting weights in his spare time.

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