About four years after Iyabo Obasanjo wrote an open letter to his father, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the former President has described his daughter as a tough woman who will not put up with any nonsense from anyone.
Obasanjo said this at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, on Thursday while addressing women at the 14th annual lecture of the Women in Management, Business and Public Service, where he urged women to play more active roles in politics.
Blaming the minor role being played by women in Nigerian politics on men, the former President said, “It is out of the selfishness of our men; they will look for anything to keep women under and look at the sort of things that we do.
“I had two girls before I had a boy. I had thought that I would never have a boy before I had a boy. But it doesn’t matter who you are in our own family…. My first child, my daughter (Iyabo) will not take nonsense from you. And you try it; you would be put in your place. It doesn’t matter; you may be 10 times her height, she will bring you down. (It is) because I give them the encouragement and you heard, eight of my children have PhDs. I have slightly more boys than girls but I have more girls with PhD than boys.”
Even though, Obasanjo, at the event, praised women and described them as equal to men, ironically, Iyabo, a former senator, accused her father of being fond of maltreating women in a December 2013 open letter.
She had said, “Getting back to my mother, I still remember your beating her up continually when we were kids. How can kids forget that kind of violence against their mother? Your maltreatment of women is legendary.
“Many of your women have come out to denounce you in public but since your madness is also part of the madness of the society, it is the women that are usually ignored and mistreated. Of course, you are the great pretender, making people believe you have a good family life and a good relationship with your children but once in a while your pretence gets cracked.”
Earlier at the event, Obasanjo had described Nigeria as not being “short of women of virtue, women of character, women of integrity.”
He disclosed that he had headhunted Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to be the Minister of Finance in his government as she was working with the World Bank at the time.
Also speaking about why he appointed the late Dora Akunyili as the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, he stated, “I was looking for somebody who would work in NAFDAC. There was an old man who was there and didn’t really impress me. I had had a couple of meetings with him and I found him not (to be) the type of man I would want to have on that job.
“I was talking to a friend who said, ‘Oh, there is a lady; she went to Britain for a medical (programme) and when she finished, she said whatever money was left from the money deposited by her department should be sent back to the department.’
“And the people called her and said, ‘Are you not a Nigerian? Nigerians will come here and say add something which you would pay back to us later.’ So, I said there is a Nigerian woman like that, where is she? So I located Dora and I said, ‘What is your profession?’ She said, pharmacy. I said pharmacy; I am looking for a pharmacist for this job. She got the job.”