Prof Remi Sonaiya: Why I ran for office of the President of Nigeria

Professor Remi Sonaiya, the only female presidential candidate for KOWA Party during the 2015 presidential election, is an educationist and an International Ambassador Scientist of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

She has a career that exemplifies passion, consistency, and selflessness.

SLA contributor, Añuli Ola-Olaniyi, in her interview with Professor Remi, learned key principles that have made Professor Remi have a fulfilled career path and shares this learning with everyone.


Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t get sucked into the prevailing corrupt system which needs to be changed- Prof Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

How did you begin your career?

My first job ever was… As a teacher of French and English at the Nigeria Military School, Zaria. That was during my youth service year.

What would you advise your younger self?

I would tell my 20-year-old self… To read much more widely. Being a student of the Arts meant that I read a fairly decent amount of literature, but I could have ventured more into other areas – philosophy, biographies of great people, etc. Of course, I’ve done a bit of catching up, but there’s no doubt that some ground was lost.

What prompted you to run for the office of the president in 2015?

I decided to run for office because the people who were running our affairs over several decades were not doing a good job of it.

We were living through a shameful and incongruous situation where we were known to be a country with huge resources, but where the overwhelming majority of the people lived in abject poverty.

Specifically, I was lecturing in the same institution where I had been a student, and before my eyes, things got worse year after year. It weighed on my heart that the students I was teaching could not enjoy the same standard of education I had.

What’s been your boldest move so far

Deciding to abandon my job at the university and moving into politics was a bold move. And then, taking the decision to run for the presidency.

I am aware that I could do so only because I had the opportunities – which were not a result of any particular effort on my part.

taking the decision to run for the presidency has been my boldest move - Prof. Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

What’s your best advice to people starting a career in politics


For people starting any career, I would say, ensure that you really like and enjoy the job you’re going into. I know that might be somewhat of a luxury these days when there is a lot of unemployment, which means people are happy to get any job at all.

But I personally wouldn’t be happy being at a job I don’t enjoy. Once you have accepted a job offer, give it your best shot. Work hard. Be diligent and conscientious – you’ll be a better person for it.

Slothful people end up wasting their own lives - Prof. Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

For those starting a political career, my advice is, don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the prevailing corrupt system which needs to be changed.

Be a change agent. Do something worthwhile and significant with your life as a politician.

Ever had any setbacks in life?

Honestly, I don’t see any. Losing my father at the age of ten could have been a setback, but God stepped in to help us.

I often say that I don’t know what else my father could have done for me – I had scholarships to attend the best schools both in Nigeria and abroad, and I have had wonderful opportunities come my way

I overcame it by trusting in God. Early on, in childlike faith, I told God that He was now the only Father I had. He didn’t disappoint.

I believe that things will change for the better if we Nigerians begin to take seriously the job of choosing good leaders for ourselves - Prof. Remi Sonaiya Click To Tweet

As a politician, how do you stay inspired? Do you have any hobbies?


That I’m a pretty good singer who loved to organize concerts, mostly at Christmas. I haven’t been doing that for some years now, but I dream of going back to doing it.

On the other hand, I stay inspired by reading my Bible and praying, reading books by or about people who have stood for something worthwhile in life (Obafemi Awolowo, Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, etc.)

What’s next for you?


I’ll only know that after the elections have been conducted. Of course, the outcome would determine what options would be available to me. But in all sincerity, I would love to be able to take a one-month holiday at least.

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For as long as we’ve known, politics has been viewed as ‘a big boys thing’ and not for women. Well, guess what world? It’s time to take a step back because ladies wanna play too!

From leading political organisations to being at the centre of political movements across the continent, women are increasingly taking charge of the political platform.

Admirable examples of #MotherlandMoguls in politics include Bostwana’s 29- year old, Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, who was recently appointed as Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry and Nigeria’s Ms. Rinsola Abiola, President of the APC Young Women Forum (amongst other titles) – the list goes on!

But let’s be honest! Even though there has been a rise in the number of women in legislatures across the continent, more work still needs to be done to integrate women into ‘political governance’.

That being said, ladies get in formation…let’s talk about building a fulfilling political career!!

To learn more, join us on Wednesday, May 30th for a webinar with Abosede George – Ogan, who is the Chief Facilitator of Women In Politics NG, as well as the Director, Strategy, Partnerships and Stakeholder Management at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund. Abosede will be sharing useful nuggets on what it takes to build a successful career in politics.

Kick start your career in politics with @abosedea on May 30th at 11 AM WAT! Click here for more: #WomenInPolitics Click To Tweet

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Why you should be interested in politics
  • The building blocks to pursuing a career in politics
  • Types of jobs available in the field of politics
  • Advice on how to build a successful political career

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Wednesday, May 30th, 2018
  • Time: 11AM Lagos // 12PM Johannesburg // 1PM Nairobi
  • Location: Register below to get access to this opportunity

Watch here:

About Adebose

Abosede George-Ogan is a tri-sector leader with over 14 years’ experience working across the non-profit, private and public sector as a development professional.

She is the Chief Facilitator at Women In Politics NG, an online platform that seeks to engage, encourage, equip and empower women especially young women to get involved and participate in politics in Nigeria. In addition to this, Abosede is currently the Director, Strategy, Partnerships and Stakeholder Management at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.

Abosede began her career in development over a decade ago with ActionAid International Nigeria. From here, she moved on to lead Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Citizenship for Keystone Bank, FirstBank and Samsung Electronics West Africa respectively.

Likewise, Ms. George-Ogan has a degree in Political Science/Public Administration from Igbinedion University and an MSc in Communication for Innovation and Development from the University of Reading.  

She is also the author of the recently launched book, “Building a Conscious Career: How to build a fulfilling and financially rewarding career”. For more information about the book, you can visit