Mrs Funmi Olayinka
Mrs Funmi Olayinka
By Olayinka Oyebode
Whereas the late Deputy Governor, Mrs Funmilayo Adunni Olayinka believed and worked assiduously for the actualisation of the administration’s 8-point agenda, upon which the various developmental strides of the state is built. Yet she had one other agenda - the promotion of the JKF (John Kayode Fayemi) Brand.
Shortly after I resumed as Chief Press Secretary to Mr Governor, I had sought her indulgence to go through my media plan which she obliged and gave some useful suggestions. And when I muted the idea of getting her to feature in one or two newspaper interviews, she declined, howbeit politely. “Oga (boss) CPS, like our people say, erin ki fon ki omo e na tun ma fon” which means the younger elephant does not blow its trumpet at the same time with the mother elephant) and you know our friends (in the media) now. They will zero in on one sentence and twist it out of context. Let's do everything to promote Mr Governor, I will give you all my support, even if I am going to grant an interview at all, it has to be devoid of questions on government policy.”
As a creative and highly successful brand communicator/manager during her career in the banking industry, Madam Deputy Governor (or DGOV as some of us in the Brand and Communications Committee fondly called her) came into government well armed in the intricacies of brand communications and management. She deployed this in her capacity as Chair of the committee that worked on the rebranding of the state, and as Chair of the Branding and Communications committee. And she was a sort of a god-mother to those of us manning various media/public relations posts in the government.
Madam DGov never for once hid her enthusiasm and commitment to the promotion of the JKF brand. In emphasising the integrity of the JKF brand, she would say: “You know our Oga has a standard. He will not settle for anything less;... You know my oga does not take excuses, so I am not prepared to take any excuse from you”. She never stopped reminding us of the need to always give our best in order to ensure the success of the JKF administration: “We are all here because of JKF and we should do everything possible to ensure the success of the administration.” And whenever Mr Governor had a successful outing, she will say “But, you should trust oga now…what do you expect?” or “Were you people expecting anything less?”
I once missed a very important public event where Mr Governor had a remarkable outing. It was Madam DGov that drew my attention to the event the next day when she asked me how I felt when I saw my oga and President Bill Clinton discussing global issues at the event. And when I responded that I missed the event, she screamed: “Oga CPS, don’t tell me you don’t have the pictures and videos of the event. And when I answered in the negative, she gave me a few contacts that could help me with the materials and also told me what I could do to leverage on the event. Within 48 hours, she called again to find out what progress I had made and when I told her the videos and pictures were already being used in various media houses, she said “Now you are talking”. She then gave me graphical details of the event. And when I asked her whether she utilised any Photo Opps (photo opportunities) with President Clinton, she said NO. “CPS you should understand now, my oga was there engaging President Clinton at that global stage and that was enough for me.”
Even though she would not suffer any fool gladly, yet her persuasive skills were legendary, especially when pursuing a laudable goal. She once woke me up 4.30am one day only to persuade me to assist a colleague fix issues surrounding his appointment letter. “Oga CPS, sorry I have to disturb your sleep, but I think we can do something to help this our brother at least for the sake of his wife and children, even though I don’t understand him. Do a letter to me concerning his case today and I will personally take it up from there,” she said. A few days afterwards, the colleague got his letter. Madam DGov called me again around 11.30pm: “Oga CPS, your brother has finally gotten his letter. And as you can see he is happier now. And I am sure you are happy too,” she said.
Punctuality and paying attention to details are part of the hallmark of Madam DGov’s work ethics. She was very much concerned on how top officials of the administration would be worthy brand ambassadors of the State. Thus, she never tolerated any official that was not properly dressed or failed to conduct himself/herself in proper conduct or failed to adorn the State’s branded lapel pin at the appropriate place. The same way she would not tolerate lateness to meetings or State functions.
She maintained this till the end. What was eventually our last conversation sometimes mid January was about the need for me to strife hard to sustain the cordial relationship with “our friends in the media.” “You know the way our friends operate, so you have to be on top of the game. I also want to let you know that I will be away for a few weeks…”
I had thought we were on same page then. Now, I understand your statement better, Madam DGov, just as I now know that your middle name is “loyalty.” You loved Ekiti State so well. You loved Ekiti people till the very end.
Sun re o, a worthy Ekiti brand ambassador.
* Oyebode is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Ekiti State.