Born and raised in Lagos, Aolat Oluwatomisin Sule is a London-based Nigerian whose passion for senior citizens as well as children has given a name lager than her frame. In this interview by TUNDE BUSARI, she gives an insight into the choice of her passion and declares that if she had a second chance to return to this world, she would do it all over again because caring the vulnerable of the society is rewarding ultimately. Excerpts:
BACK in the United Kingdom, you are a social worker with many years of experience. What does it take to be a successful social worker in that country?
I must first of all thank you and your media organisation for giving me this opportunity to share my work experience with the reading public, especially Nigeria readers to know what it requires to be a social worker. Again, I need to thank you because our people need to know a lot of things, especially before they embark on journey to a place like UK. Perhaps, I should leave that issue for another time. Being a successful social worker requires special qualities like being sensitive to emotions of others and having empathy, a caring disposition and patience with people experiencing difficulties so you can understand their situation which will enable you to know what help can be rendered to them. You would agree with me that this job is not bread and butter. It requires dedication because some people look up to you for their comfort and even survival because if you are not where you should be at right time, anything can happen. God forbid! Also, communicating effectively with excellent listening skills are requisite which a social worker must fulfill including having analytical skills and resilience to stress. I must be honest with you that an indolent cannot do the work. You must be up and doing and ready to subject yourself to stress without complaint. In the first place, who would listen to your complaint? Who? Work ethics out there is quite difference, requiring each person to mind his or her own duty, finish and go home.
With years you have put into service, you must have encountered some challenges some of which must have influenced you one way or the other. Can you share those experiences?
As far as I am concerned, what is called challenges really is what one needs to offer the best in whatever one does. What I am saying is that I don’t classify anything as problem or challenge. Once I have a work to do; once my duty is spelled out for me, then what am I waiting for? I do it with whatever stress which comes along he work. Is it easy to make money? It is not, and we must understand this, instead of looking at some things and tag them challenges. Well, on the job, we can talk of over bureaucratic system, emotional issues, stress and burnout brought on by stopping family violence, achieving equal opportunities and justice, reducing economic inequality, building financial capabilities. Again, those I just listed are part of human development because if you pass through them and able to cope, they help you to become better.
In a nutshell, I can say without sounding immodest, that social work for me is a natural disposition, which brings out the best in me.
Can you recall some of your memorable moments on the job?
Talking of memorable moments on the job, I think there are many but one that stands out is working with a wonderful family that against all adversities, remains resilient and self- determined in what they were striving for. I think I should leave it at that. I mean, I should not go into details for now.
What has been your inspiration to work at optimal level on the job?
What inspires me to work at optimal level is the love for making a positive difference to children’s lives and family lives. I am an apostle of encouraging people to love their job. If one does not love one’s job, that person has no reason to hang on to the job because that person would not meet the expectations of his or her employer. And if you don’t meet expectations of your employer, you are on sack list already. What has driven me so far on the job is my love to take care of people. And to God be the glory that the little I have done so far has been crowned with blessing which anyone can wish from God. I am talking of contentment.
How do you unwind during break?
I don’t waste my break and holiday. Wasting break and holiday is to be found doing another job. I enjoy myself the way I enjoy my work. I have balanced them. I love music; I love good music which preaches morals. May be that is why the late Dr Sikiru Aynde Barrister is my favourite even after his death. I grew up knowing Barrister as a family friend of my parents and I have been in love with his music from a very tender age. His music helped improve my knowledge and appreciation of the Yoruba language. My paternal grandmother made me listen to the lyrics and explained them to me word after word. This is not saying I don’t listen to other people’s music. I do but I have a special flair for barrister because of reason I just mentioned. Kenny Rogers just died and his death touched me. When you talk of country music, he is the one I grew up to appreciate. More women are coming out to participate in politics in Nigeria at a higher level now. Are you satisfied with the number so far?
While commending the present level of participation of women in Nigeria politics which has taken long to evolve yet the female gender is still greatly marginalised in our political process. Our system is a patriarchal/male dominated one that constitutes major impediments to women’s political aspirations in contesting for elective positions. Other barriers are cultural stereotyping, economic limitations and traditional practices. Again, let me just say I am satisfied with the performance of some women in Nigeria politics but not all of them.
Based on your exposure to democracy and governance in a developed country like UK, who is your ideal politician?
Should I take that as a compliment? Well, my ideal politician is one who possesses and exhibits personal integrity; one who aims at improving the lives of his/her constituents; who willingly delegates to others who are wont to know an issue better than them; one who respects other people’s opinions and one who is not motivated by money or power. He or she is also a person with abilities to reason through tough times; one who respects the rights of the constituents whom they represent. But sadly people with these qualities are not urged to run for offices nor are they encouraged to run in our society
How impactful are your parents in your development?
It is a natural phenomenon I take after my parents. From Sigmund Freud’s theory that our adult personality develops from early childhood experiences regarding how we have been nurtured raised and imparted by our parents. I adhere strictly to my parental teachings. I am privileged to have been raised by my parents to establish myself in core values that never change over time. These are: honesty, loyalty, respect, compassion, faithfulness, dedication and, above all, love for humanity.
What does fashion mean to you?
My choice of fashion is comfortable, conservative, classy and stylish be it native or conventional styling. My fashion accessories cut across high street and luxury brands. Reason for the choice I make in fashion is modesty. My life is all about modesty, for in modesty I derive joy and inner satisfaction. Of course, there is need for one to occasionally look bright and colourful but one must at the same time, be conscious of being modest
Coronavirus is the issue which is causing tension in the world now. How would you assess Nigeria government’s response?
I don’t think I should go into that, for if I do, I would be emotional. Coronavirus has further exposed them as selfish and very insensitive. What would it take them to donate COVID-19 protection kits to the public? Meanwhile some people in the UK are sending kits out of their meager earnings to Nigeria in the bid to help ameliorate the situation. Come 2023, they will commence sharing of foodstuff stipends and memorabilia. They are self-centered, egoistic, narcissistic and greedy. They don’t have interest of the people who elected them into offices. But if you ask me, I will still tell you that I believe in the Nigerian project.