Right from childhood, he set his eyes on becoming a medical doctor. And that exactly was the simple goal he pursued at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) with the combined support of his parents and societal motivation.
After graduation in 1981, Senator Oloruninbe Mamora actively practiced his profession until he took a plunge into politics at the advent of the present political dispensation in 1999. Perhaps, you may begin to wonder why he decided to hang his stethoscope despite his love and passion for the profession. Here is his explanation for going into public service, “I was convinced in myself that I could offer something better that what some others offer.”
Having served as the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly for four years and Minority Leader at the Senate for two consecutive terms, there is no doubt that Mamora has seen it all. On Saturday, February 16, he turned 60. In this interview with OMONIYI SALAUDEEN at this residence in Magodo, he shares some of his life experiences and the events that shaped his life. Excerpts
How do you feel attaining the age of 60 in a country where life expectancy is below 50?
As you’ve rightly said, in a country where average life expectancy is about 55 for women and between 48 and 52 for men, for one to have attained 60 calls for rejoicing and thanksgiving. So, I am grateful to God for sparing my life thus far and for not just granting me good mental health but social health as well. I thank God; I am really very grateful to them.
Most great men emerge from humble backgrounds. What was your background like?
By the standard of those days, I will say I had a good background because both of my parents were teachers. And teachers were highly revered in the society in those days. My dad, late Chief Kolawole Mamora was a principal of a Teacher Training College. Besides, he taught in several schools including Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, Odogbolu Grammar School, Adebola Odutola College and so many others. He taught so many great men. My mum as well was a Headmistress of Baptist Day School, Ijebu-Ode.
I am saying that with all sense of modesty, by the standard of those days, I will consider myself to have come from a privileged background. In fact, the Awujale of Ijebuland conferred honours on my parents. My dad was honoured with a chieftaincy title of Akeweje of Ijebuland, while my mum was conferred with the title of Yeye Akeweje. Akeweje means somebody molding and teaching the young stars to prosperity. That is why I said with all my sense of modesty that I come from a privileged background.
That privileged background must have then contributed to your career success.
(Cuts in). Nothing comes smoothly like that in life. Again, part of the privilege my siblings and I had was that we had relations living with us. We were given what you describe as home training and family values; Family values like respect for elders, honesty and integrity were inculcated in us. Added to that is the fact that we were born into a Christian family. It was in fact compulsory for us to attend Sunday school in those days. So, we had good moral upbringing both from the home and church as well. We were fondly referred to as omo teacher (children of teachers). We were like examples to others in terms of everything, dressing, comportment and how we carried ourselves. We could not afford to disappoint or bring our family name to disrepute. So, we were very conscious of these all along. And, of course, in terms of academic, we had a very good background.
What about exposure to peer group influence?
Yes, you cannot rule out peer group influence. But then, when you are already grounded at home, the chances of departing from your family values will be reduced. I did not go into the boarding house until I got to Form IV. For the first three years in secondary school, I was a day student. At that level, I just could not afford to depart from those values that had been impacted on me by my parents.
Was it entirely your personal decision to be a medical doctor?
Right from childhood, I had always been in love with medicine. But my dad also encouraged me. He always made me to believe that there was no other option than being a medical doctor. In those days, there were some professions people admired so much. Medicine, law, clergy and, of course, teaching were the most highly revered professions then. Right from my childhood, my dad would address me as doctor. I recall that my name came from the only first Mayor of Lagos, Dr. Ibiyinka Oloruninbe who was a medical doctor. My dad named me after the man as a motivation for me to become a medical doctor. Above all, I was also very interested in becoming a medical doctor.
When it was time to settle down for family life, how did you come about the woman you married?
I met the woman I married at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). She came in for a three-year course and I was in for a seven-year course in medicine. We met in 1976 when she came in. It was at a period we used to call October-rush in those days. Then, we had a party and she was present. So, I ‘toasted’ her and she agreed. That was how it all started. Along the line, things went well. She graduated in 1979 in Economics. But she had to wait for me until I finished in 1981. After my graduation, we got married in 1982 during my service year.
So what did you find most attractive about her?
The first thing was her beauty. When we started dating, I discovered that she had more than physical beauty. She had beauty of the heart, which was really captivating. She is also from a well-respected family. Her dad too was a respected teacher.
You said your parents gave you the right upbringing. From your experience as a parent, how challenging is the task of raising children?
We thank God for His grace. One, we had parents who were very caring. Mothers from both sides did a lot of things for us in terms of helping to bring up our children. Fortunately, we don’t have many of them; we have only three. Our first born, Moyosoreoluwa, is a boy. Thereafter, we had twin girls – Oluwadahun and Oluwadara. Both my mother and mother-in-law were there to assist us in taking care of these children. My mother-in-law particularly did a lot; so, we didn’t really have any serious challenge. If there was any serious challenge, it was probably to devote more time to the care and upbringing of the twins. At a point, my wife had to leave her job because our twin girls didn’t come early. Following the delivery of the twins and the need for her to take care of them, she had to sacrifice her job voluntarily.
What was your motivation for going into public service?
Right from my childhood, I had always been interested in public service because my dad was the leader of Action Group in our area in the then Ijebu East Local Government of Ogun State. When I got to the university, I was also very much involved in students’ union politics. In fact, I was not just a member of Student Representatives Council but also an elected Financial Secretary of the Students’ Union. The present governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and my good friend, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, were also members of SRC. We all served at SRC at the same time. When I left school in 1981, it was therefore very easy for me to be part of political tendencies. As a doctor, I had interaction with patients. And there was hardly a time a patient came into my consulting room that I didn’t discuss politics. That was how people started getting interested in me and began encouraging me as well. I was convinced in myself that I could offer something better than what some others offer.
I also thought that whatever I had to offer could be better offered in a position where I could influence policies of government.
How do you spend your leisure hours?
I watch football a lot. And I like to keep myself abreast of current affairs both locally and internationally.
How do you ensure that you keep fit?
I have treadmill. It may not be too regular but I do get on the treadmill for 40 or 45 minutes. But one thing I do not fail to do is my stretch exercise as well as one-spot running. I do those ones everyday. Then, I am conscious of what I eat.