It is four years after wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu officially launched her initiative, Forum for Wives of Ondo State Officials (FOWOSO).
Ab-initio, Anyanwu-Akeredolu highlighted some of the objectives of FOWOSO, to help in developing and executing programmes that would build capacity in young and old women in the state.
Betty explained that FOWOSO would stand for and create equal opportunity for women of the state so as to prepare them to take charge when called upon, while stressing the need to urgently address low representation of women in position of real authority and decision-making.
She noted that women’s roles had grown to the point where it is a loss to the society to segregate them from economic activity and decision-making processes.
According to her, contributing to the development of the state was pertinent to FOWOSO’s vision, and emphasised the need for its members to be associated with things that would make a difference in the lives of Ondo State residents; citing the Committee of Wives of Lagos State Officials, COWLSO, as a reference point of women’s group that had carried out numerous developmental projects for the betterment of the people.
Also, in less than six months of her assumption into the office of the First Lady in 2017, Anyanwu-Akeredolu launched the BEMORE Summer Bootcamp for girls’ naija initiative.
According to Betty, through BEMORE empowerment initiative, she intended to correct the impression that women were just created for the purpose of child-bearing and to cook for the family.
But there has been accusations and counter accusation on whether FOWOSO and BEMORE was not meant to be the gathering of women for jamboree, stomach infrastructure and money wasting programme.
Even in local parlance, FOWOSO is referred to “FOWOSOFO”, which means, money wasting.
For instance in 2018, some residents of the state frowned at the N20,000 registration and gate fee intending participants were asked to pay for a summit organized by FOSOWO.
Some maintained that such workshop coming from the stable of the governor’s wife should not have attracted any financial implications from participants.
A reliable source who preferred anonymity also told Niger Delta Connect that, almost all the programmes initiated by Betty Anyanwu–Akeredolu are being sponsored by Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC).
He noted that, not only that she demands for fund from the office (OSOPADEC), but virtually all projects in the commission is been handled by her, while in some cases, it’s through her son, Babajide Akeredolu.
He added that, the BEMORE project which she also handles is fully funded by OSOPADEC.
Meanwhile, some accused Anyanwu-Akeredolu of diverting resources meant to develop Ondo State to states like Ibadan, Lagos and Imo where she comes from.
Some cited the number of people from Igbo extraction occupying offices in the state at the expense of bonafide citizens of Ondo state.
However, whether FOWOSO was meant to be another gathering of women for jamboree, stomach infrastructure or not, Anyanwu-Akeredolu could still prove them wrong because today, the world is recognizing the enormous role of women in the society. Women’s involvement has been identified as the panacea to achieving food security, ending malnutrition and ensuring social security.
Finally, Anyanwu-Akeredolu can change the narrative of FOWOSO to become a lasting legacy that would continue to carry out projects aimed at empowering, establishing and encouraging girls and women to be more in the society even after she leaves office.