Mulikat Adeola-Akande: First Female Majority Leader of House of Reps
Political developments in Lagos, the commercial engine room of Nigeria, had a lot to do with shaping her later political activism. As a young law graduate, she was keenly monitoring political events. At some point, she was glued to televised programmes of the National Assembly, the Legislative arm of the Nigerian government. By the late 1990s, she knew that one day she will be one of the federal legislators. Some years later, she was in one of the hallowed chambers of the bicameral Legislature as a member in the House of Representatives. She was not just a member of the House she made history as the first female Majority Leader of the 7th House of Representatives.
This is Mulikat Adeola-Akande, an Amazon who was born 60 years ago in Kaduna, a state that used to be the hotbed of Northern politics in the years of yore, to a business family of Alhaji and Alhaja Akande, a close knit polygamous family where love was all that they shared among themselves. Her father realised quite early that education is the key to achieve greatness in life. Since Mulikat was the second child of the family, she was sent to St.Annes’ Primary School and Queen Amina College in Kaduna. After her secondary education, Mulikat proceeded to College of Arts and Science, Zaria where she obtained her A Levels and thereafter, proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1979, where she studied law and graduated with LLB in 1982. She immediately moved to Lagos for her Law School, National Youth Corps and thereafter obtained LLM in 1985 in University of Lagos (UniLag). Between 1986 and 1996 she worked in different organisations and private legal firms.
She joined the then Continental Merchant Bank Plc in 1988 and while at the bank she was deployed to CMB Homes Mortgage Bank Limited as Head, Legal and Administration. In 1994 she was appointed Company Secretary /Legal Adviser of the bank until 1996 when she set up her own legal firm, M.L. Akande & Co.
During the emerging transition politics of 1998, Mulikat saw an opportunity to showcase her talent -a burning desire to bring dividend of democracy to her people. She decided to join People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, having been persuaded that it was a party for everybody across the country. After the 1999 elections and the take-off of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Mulikat started thinking about what she could do for her people. ” I was always watching the programme on television showing the National Assembly and I was thinking to be one of those people and to do things for my people”, she says
By year 2000, she made up her mind and wanted to go to the House of Reps. and thereafter went back home to Ogbomoso in Oyo State and contested in 2007 and won the seat for House of Representatives on the platform of PDP representing Ogbomoso North, South and Orire Constituency and was reelected into the same seat in 2011. While in the House of Representatives in 2011, Mulikat contested for the position of the Speaker of the House but lost to Aminu Tambuwal, the incumbent Governor of Sokoto State, and was later elected as the Majority Leader of the House, the first female member to occupy that position in Nigeria’s National Assembly.
In 2019, Mulikat pursued an ambition of scaling-up her political career. She was no longer comfortable holding on to her seat in the House. She vacated the seat to aspire for a seat in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly. She was gunning for the Oyo North Senatorial District seat still on the platform of PDP. But, she lost to Senator Buhari Abdulfatai of All Progressives Congress (APC)
Currently, she is managing Jokodolu Foundation, a civic group that is concerned with bringimg succour to the less privileged across Nigeria in the form of scholarships and empowerment.
Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Framework by UN member states in 2015, th Foundation seeks to structure its programming to align with national as well as regional approaches and commitments which are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Within this context, it is focusing on SDG 1 on poverty; SDG 2 on Zero Hunger; SDG 3 on Health and Wellbeing; SDG 4 on Education; SDG 5 on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, SDG 10 on reducing inequalities; SDG 13 on Climate Action and SDG 15 which focusses on Life on Land.
The Jokodolu Foundation which works as a facilitator, a mobiliser, an advocate and also an implementer… is driven by the vision of a society where the less privileged and vulnerable groups can maximise their potential, and on a mission to empower and support disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the society.
On No Poverty and Zero Hunger, the Foundation is embarking on livelihood support, financial aid and business start – up support for vulnerable demographic groups With a combined strategy model, beneficiaries (mostly women) from Ogbomosho and Oyo state in general are identified for livelihood support which entails skills building and start-up capital. The aim is to empower families with skills and capital to end the cycle of poverty. To address zero hunger, we run feeding programs on an annual basis for about 200 indigenes during the Ramadan period. Other forms of support under this thematic focus includes organising medical outreaches to cover basic checks and make referrals, monetary donation towards offsetting emergency bills such as hospital bills or natural disaster related impacts.
On educational financial aid for indigent students with focus on female education in primary, post – primary, technical and vocational studies, through a Student Scholarship programme established in 2008, Jokodolu has provided educational aid to over 100 students targeting Oyo state indigenes, other Nigerians that have demonstrable financial difficulty and persons living with disability. The financial aid is provided throughout the duration of each beneficiary’s educational pursuit.
Women’s human rights with a focus on women’s political participation As an astute female politician, the founder of Jokodolu Foundation- Mulikat Adeola-Akande has implemented activities to boost the quality and quantity of women participating in politics in South West Nigeria and in Oyo state in particular. Under the auspices of PDP South West Women and by advocating for the appointment of women into several positions, she was able to galvanize women to participate more effectively in party politics. In 2014, the first Nigeria Women Strategy Conference was held to articulate women’s political demands across party lines and strengthen multi-party alliances among women. Jokodolu through the founder has also been involved in legislative advocacy to improve the legal frameworks on women’s rights in Nigeria.
Ogbomoso and some other neighboring local government areas have benefitted from Jokolodu’s community development interventions such as provision of portable water through borehole, repair of community structures destroyed by use or natural elements, creating awareness on causes of flooding, erosion and mitigating factors. Other forms of community development have included provision of internet access for the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology and installation of solar power street lights around Ogbomoso.
Skills development and Training for young women and men. Since its establishment in 2008, over 500 indigenes of Ogbomosho have benefitted from skills development through trainings on economic skills such as tailoring, computer proficiency, hair styling and grooming and more recently football. A fully equipped skills centre was built and commissioned in 2014 to provide a central location for the trainings.
The Foundation has been deploying a suite of cross-cutting strategies for all the SDGs thematic areas, and in some targeting girl child education, and elections covering 3 electoral cycles. These strategies include training of electoral officers and party agents on the provisions of the Electoral Act, the INEC Guidelines and other relevant legal and policy frameworks. Jokodolu Foundation has also utilized radio programmes to create awareness on the need for effective civic participation and engagement in the electoral processes such as voter registration and elections. Advocacy on various issues are championed in communities, at the State and Federal levels.