'Women should not be second fiddle’ - The Hope Newspapers

‘Women should not be second fiddle’

Admin 15 May, 2017 News, Women

Mrs Akenroye

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.

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