I first met Betta when she was introduced to me as a candidate for Women Leader of our party in Abuja in early 2022. Shortly after, she was in Lagos on a courtesy visit and I immediately liked her style, her carriage and comportment. She exuded confidence, was articulate, knew what she wanted and appeared to me as focused, determined and ambitious. She later won the election and became the Party’s Women Leader.
Betta worked very hard during the campaign. She was everywhere mobilizing women, campaiged with the Presidential Campaign team all over the country, and attended most of the events. We also traveled together to attend the Chattam House event where she was asked to respond to a question by our Candidate and she discharged herself creditably.
I wasn’t surprised when she eventually became a Minister. Honestly, if I were the President, I would not have hesitated to also appoint her as Minister because she’s not too young to serve as Minister, she’s a qualified medical doctor, experienced enough as a former commissioner and women leader of our party, and has demonstrated drive, passion, and loyalty to qualify as a Minister.
This is where I disagree with those who are tagging her as too inexperienced, too young, and too green to be appointed Minister.
We have all read about her wrongdoings and her suspension by the President and questioning by the EFCC.
This is as it should be. I hope and pray that at the end of the day, she would have learned a hard lesson on how to conduct herself as a public officer and navigate the banana peels in the corridors of power.
Betta Edu is like a daughter to me and I feel really sorry for her for the mess she finds herself in. I asked myself what if she’s my daughter? Would I disown her? She’s a promising bright star who could have served this nation in higher capacities.
The nation needs more young people in public service and I hope her misadventure will not discourage others in her age bracket.
My candidate advice to all young people who are called to service in public office is to seek out a mentor of a public officer serving or retired with some measure of credibility and good pedigree who will guide and mentor them on how to navigate the murky waters of public office.
To us critics and commentators, I get it that we are genuinely shocked and angry as to the level of malfeasance we are witnessing in public service, but be aware that we should rather learn from her mistakes rather than laugh at her. What happened to her could have happened to many of us whether by omission or commission.
Public service is a serious and sensitive business where your actions or inactions could have serious consequences for millions of citizens that you’ll never meet personally. Temptations, greed, and indiscipline could easily be your undoing especially if you are young, carefree, and with no one mentoring and guiding you.
There are still many young, smart, focused, and dedicated young men and women out there who are interested in public service at the leadership level not because of the attraction of free money and power but for the genuine desire to serve the country and the people. I urge you not to be discouraged but to continue to pursue your dream.The nation needs you.
Former Deputy Governor, Lagos State