Fateema Mohammed is a socialite and a budding politician. She spoke with
www.theoctopusnews.com, about what makes her tick and her many controversies.
You are a woman who seems to have more than one personality. Who really is Fateema Mohammed?
I am a God-fearing person, a humane woman who also has a heart of gold but above all, I am very principled and a forthright person.
Interestingly, these are not the attributes people have used to describe you. Why is this?
I have said this severally and I will repeat it again. I cannot change people’s opinions about me. People are entitled to their opinions and you can take a part of my life and define it whichever way you want. I have no control over that. I have been controversial, but I know who I am and that, for me, is very important.
You said you have been controversial. How do you mean?
Well, in the past few years, a lot of people have misrepresented and misjudged me. A lot of people have said different things about me to the extent that some times, I ask myself; when did these things happen? A lot have been fabricated about me; things have been made up about me. I am not saying I am totally innocent of them but, to a large extent, I have just been me. I have just been human, I have just accepted my shortcomings, perfected my life and I am moving on. I think I am now a better person than before.
A lot of people feel the allegations are true because you don’t speak up when the allegations are made. Isn’t it so?
I haven’t come out to publicly clarify issues about my person because I just didn’t think it was worth it to join issues with people by going to the media to tell them this is how it is. Rather, I focused my attention on things that were positive and would move my life forward.
Some people say you drop names a lot. Is this true?
I have heard that severally but I won’t be bothered about any one’s opinion of me.
When you sponsored actor, Sunkanmi Omobolanle’s wedding, there were speculations about your relationship with him. What was really between the two of you?
When you are a philanthropist and a humane person, people will say a lot of things about you. In my case, they said quite a handful. Some people said I was sleeping with him and others believed I wanted to sleep with him. For them, that was why I bankrolled his wedding. I make bold to say he is not the first person I would assist or do something for. I have done things for people. May be his became an issue because he is in the eye of the public.
You run an NGO called Parchinos Foundation. How did it all begin?
Every time people talk about my foundation I get excited because it is like a baby I am nurturing. It is like teaching a child to walk, talk and eat. Parchinos is an Italian word. It means giving people a new lease of life, lending a helping hand. The foundation had been in existence before it was named Parchinos. In 2007, after Jimmy Agbaje’s campaign I started the Jimmy Agbaje outreach and eventually Parchinos became a continuation of that outreach. People say they are doing poverty alleviation but I tell people, you cannot alleviate poverty rather you can reduce the effect by moving people from the lowest level of the ladder of poverty.
What was the objective of the foundation when it was established?
It was to simply touch people’s lives because Fateema is kind and I love to imprint myself on the minds of the electorate.
So, basically it is fashioned to your liking?
Parchinos is not about me. It is about celebrating the downtrodden, especially those the society has neglected. For instance, we did something recently for the albinos; we are doing some things for the dwarfs and you will find that most of them are no longer on the streets. We put them in a special place we call vocational school. We also do things for widows but the uniqueness of Parchinos is that we are not satisfied with empowering you. We have a monitoring and coordinating team because after a complainants come to Parchinos, we send our team to what the problem really is and by the time we start to palliate your pain, we watch you grow and see if you can get to the next step of the ladder.
What differentiates Parchinos from other foundations, knowing a lot of them are set up just to get grants from organisations abroad?
I have not got anything from any organisation abroad and for the corporate firms which have identified with us, it is simply because they believe in what we are doing. Often times, they are even the ones who call me up for the projects. I have worked with 7Up, MTN, the Jim Ovia Foundation. They all come to us and not the other way round.
Why did it take you three years to launch the foundation?
May be it is because I don’t really like making noise about what I do or am doing. What I did first was to make sure I was imprinted in all spheres. We worked with dwarf and they now know what we can do and when we went to the albinos they identified with us. That is also why I have not been going to the market of recent because a lot of people you don’t even know will come to show you appreciation for something you did for them.
There are talks about you launching a political career soonest. Could you tell us about it?
I have been in politics for a long time. I was the head of the Jimmy Agbaje’s campaign; I was with Bola Tinubu during his tenure. I haven’t stopped being Jimmy Agbaje’s little girl. I will never stop being part of his campaign organization, nor will I ever stop giving credit and credence to Bola Tinubu.
You did not answer my question. I mean, come 2015, would you be contesting for an elective post?
There is a probability that we will see Fateema Mohammed 2015 but for now, let just see how it goes.
What is the relationship between you and Jimmy Agbaje?
He is my mentor and my political father. While I was with him during the last political campaign he thought me that elective posts are not always about winning, but all about ensuring that governance is doable and achievable, ensuring that you are imprinted in the minds of the common man and the electorate look at you and feel they can associate with you. So, it is not about just winning, but making a mark.
You seem to be a diehard believer in his leadership principle because you have followed him for years. Is this correct?
May be I am just consistent. They say politicians are prostitutes; today they are here, tomorrow they are somewhere else. May be I don’t want to be seen like that.
There was a rumour sometime ago that you and Biola Abuga, your close friend, had a face-off. How true is it?
The truth is that she has relocated and there is a saying that 20 children can never play together for 20 years. However, there is no animosity between us. If we are probably not friends today as we used to be, it is not because of any ill feeling but because something just cropped up and we had to move on.
Tell us about your life as a young girl. What was it like?
My father is a military man so, naturally, I grew up in the barracks. I was perceived as a very intelligent person because a lot of people were not used to people from the North being that eloquent. So, growing up for me was fun because my mother and my father trusted me and allowed me to make my decisions myself.
There is the notion that girls, who grow up in the barracks lack morals. Does this apply to you?
First, the assertion is not true. My mother is a disciplinarian, I grew up in the barracks, but I never had the attributes because my mother did not allow me to mix.
You are full of life; have you always being like this?
As Northerners, there is this thing in us that keeps us reserved. We had to keep to ourselves. Then I had this teacher who was always preaching the importance of chastity. I am a focused person and that also helped me but as you grow up you, get more mature.
What is your fashion statement?
My style has been consistent. I am conservative; I have always been a local girl because I don’t believe in opening my body and that is why if you see me anywhere, be it in my house or outside, I am always properly covered and dressed.
Are you attracted to label or African fabric?
I am addicted to our fabrics because I am truly African and I think it is time to celebrate our virtues and what we have