Mrs. Modupe Catherine Akenroye is a retired Permanent Secretary in the Ondo State Civil Service. In this interview with Sade Afe, she narrated how she was able to reach the post of Permanent Secretary and how interesting she found teaching.
Tell us about yourself briefly?
I am Modupe Catherine Akenroye, I am from Araromi Obu in Odigbo Local Government Area, I am a daughter from a royal family both from the mother and father’s side. My father is Prince Adedeji Adegbule
How was your growing up like?
Well, it was interesting because my father was a teacher and a disciplinarian, so we were not like a typical child growing up. In that town, they looked up to us because at that time, a teacher, a clergy, are the big people in the town, and people used to bring their wards to us so we have a lot of people living with us.
We want to know about your Educational background
My primary school is at Okitipupa, U N A Primary school, they are the people they now call Africa Church , then I finished my primary school at st James’ Roman Catholic Mission (RCM) at Okitipupa in 1968, because my dad then was going to the University and they were paying fees, so he said I should wait for a year after that, I later went to Manuwa Memorial Grammar School, Iju Odo in 1974, that is where I completed my secondary school. From there, I proceeded to The Polytechnic, Ibadan and I have my Basic Higher Education, that was like an A level then I taught briefly.
What did you study at the polytechnic Ibadan?
For A level, I studied Physics, Chemistry, Biology that is H .S .C, but we call it Basic at that time, then I later proceeded to University of Ibadan where I read BSc Agric and I specialize in Animal Science. After that ,I went to some other schools, I got some other degrees .I went to Ondo State University (OSUA) at that time, I did Education because I was teaching I have to upgrade my knowledge, that was post graduate study in Educational Management. After that I started another course which I did [MBA] but I didn’t finish it at Ondo state University then, because Akungba started , some of us completed theirs at OSUA while some of us came with Akungba. So, I finished my MBA at Akungba and also there was this University at Ilorin that was Jesus Bible University, there also I decided to do some courses. I used my degree in Education to do Masters in Theology. After that I now did a lot of divinity there were a lot of other courses that I did as a result of the job that I was doing.
What are you now doing for living, with so many certificates acquired?
They are helping , like I said I started as a teacher, not that I wanted to be initially, but as a result of marriage, they said a woman must have time for home, that was why I opted for education later , before the opportunity came at the Ministry of Education they said they wanted people with cognate experience to come in as Educational Officers so that they can help in going round the schools for inspection, I saw this as an opportunity for me to move on to another level, so, I jumped at it. People were even saying you know them at the ministry they wouldn’t place you where you are supposed to be , those people you would meet will have to be your bosses, you have to queue, but I know what I wanted I said I don’t mind, I can queue, no problem. So I did a lateral transfer to the Ministry of Education. I rose from where I entered as a Principal Education Officer to the post of Director of Education. I went through various departments, through various parastatals in education, I worked at Inspectorate Department. I worked at School Services Department, then after that , I worked as a secretary on Education Endowment Fund, then after that I was transferred to the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB). So I came back as the Zonal education officer Akure . so I was there when, the last governor said he wanted to create Quality Education Agency, so I decided to go there. I said I like challenges, I want to know what is going on everywhere so I decided to do the exams, do the interview and I now moved to Quality Education Assurance Agency, I was there for about two years. When you work hard and you commit your ways unto God, definitely he will you lift up, so it was at that place, that I was appointed the Permanent Secretary in 2012. So I became a Permanent Secretary of the Ondo State Civil Service and I was posted to the Multilateral Department of the Office of the Governor, (MDG) office. Thereafter to the Ministry of Adult Technical Vocational Education, so I was there till I retired just a few months ago.
How did you find Education?
Education is very interesting and it exposes you. I used to tell people that I know everywhere in this country because I moved all round even in the state and travelling itself is education. So you can’t tell me any story about anywhere in this country even in this state including Ekiti, I went everywhere and I am happy that I am building lives, bringing up some people. I will just get somewhere, and somebody will greet me, my former students have all grown up, they have become big people and some will say mummy, you don’t know us again? I will say sorry, but your face looks familiar, they will say you taught us.
What subject did you teach?
I taught Agricultural Science.
How did you meet your husband?
Actually, we went to the same secondary school but at that time, there was nothing between us, we were together in the same Christian group, at that time it was Student Christian Movement (SCM). Although, he was in A class, I was in B class, I was not very close to him because most of the people in the A class most of them are older than us in the B class, the people in the A class have finished Secondary Modern as at that time, so, we were not relating as such but after that we left and went to the Polytechnic together.
Does it mean you hail from the same place?
He is from Ilutitun, Okitipupa Local Government, but I am raised at Okitipupa, although Ilutitun is another town in Okitipupa Local Government, so we were there together at the Polytechnic before he left for the University of Lagos, it was when we were at the university that he proposed.
When you presented him to your parent, what was their reaction?
During the time we were courting, they would come, and his senior brother was known to the family, the only thing was that when I said I wanted to get married, they thought I will work very well before I get married, but he was not ready to wait. I said please you have to give me six months, I cannot just override my parents and say I want to get married, they will say what is wrong with you. My parents said they would have done elaborate wedding for me but there were hitches but God took the glory and it was wonderful.
When you got married, how many children were you blessed with?
I have four kids, all of them by the special grace of God, are graduates, three of them are married, my first born is a male, his wife is a medical doctor, both of them are in the United States, the second one is a lecturer and the husband a Pharmacist, and the third child is a lawyer and presently resides in Canada with her husband while her husband is a Computer Economist and the last one is an Architect.
What is the most challenging aspect of your marriage?
The most challenging period of my marriage was when my husband went for specialist course. That time our marriage was young and he had to go away from home, initially it was Nigeria, but later abroad, even when he was in Nigeria at UCH Ibadan, he was so busy, that sometimes in a whole month, we won’t see each other and at that time, there was no mobile phone. If I wanted to communicate with him, I have to go as far as NITEL office so it was not easy at all and I had two kids, so I was the only one taking care of them. In fact there was a particular day when I gave birth to my third child, he was told that I have been taken to the hospital to deliver, so he tried very hard to sneak out to come and see me, when he came in, I had already delivered, he lamented that he wanted to witness the delivery. He had to leave after I was discharged to come for the naming ceremony but he never had the opportunity to be at the naming ceremony, it was not funny at all.
What should be the major priority of a woman?
The major priority of a woman is to ensure she has good home, and that it is all encompassing. You have your children, you train them in the way of the Lord, ensuring you take care of them and wherever they want to get to, you are able to take them to that level, support your husband and your home will be an example for others to emulate.
Do you encourage getting a househelp?
There are some I would call stewards, there is no way you will not need help sometimes but it depends. You know some people bring in women, once a while to come and do house chores. For me, I cannot allow them to cook my husband’s food.
Some of them that are of school age, I put them in schools, some of them that are out of school, if they want to learn trade I ask them to go and learn it, they would not be useless in the society, except if they are not ready. So you may have and you may not have, if you have, you must treat that person as a human being and you must add value to that person’s life.
What can you say about arranged marriage?
Maybe the situation warrants it but, why should you arrange a marriage? Some rich people arranged marriage among their children; they want the riches to keep circulating among them.
It is not the best, sometimes, it may turn out well and sometimes it may be otherwise, but that is not the best in the sense that it is love is that important. In the olden days, they do all these things, at that time, people take what they get, they cannot come out of it, they will be managing and enduring but now, you cannot do that except there is a real need for it.
For instance, may be somebody has been in abroad for years, he has not gotten married and you are getting worried and if that person is insisting on marrying there, you might be thinking he would not come back again, if you have any sister, you can discuss and then allow them to talk to themselves.
What is your best food?
I do not even know whether I have a best food, I know I eat pupuru with vegetable and any draw soup.
What is your best colour?
I like blue and green.
Do you advise women to go into politics?
Yes, when you work hard, they will invite you into politics and do not force yourself into it. Women should not be a second fiddle, they should work hard, they should know that they can get to the pinnacle of their career but they should know that they would work more than twice the men, and they should not do it by force, because when they do that, it will affect them, women should be cool, calm, collected, step by step and they will get there.
What is your philosophy about life?
Do your best and leave the rest in the hand of God.