As part of our homage to the great universal celebration of love – St Valentine’s Day, we asked some Nigerian community leaders to open up and tell us how they met their lovely wives and share with us what has sustained their marriages over the years.
CHIEF BIMBO FOLAYAN ROBERTS – FORMER CHAIRMAN, CANUK (MARRIED TO DUNNI ROBERTS)
In the early 90s I worked in the finance sector in Nigeria. My boss (now late) and I had a friend who owned a Mortgage Bank on Lagos Island. Alongside my work at the Finance company, I also ran my own PR initiative in partnership with a friend. In 1992, we financed, supported and helped to promote Dr. Tai Solarin’s biography written by two famous lecturers of the University of Ife. The launching of this book became a national affair and attracted Ministers and very famous politicians who donated generously. However, the banks refused to pay the cheques because they had Dr. Tai Solarin’s name on them.
I approached my boss’s friend and he instructed his bank staffs to open an account for us and to pay this money to us immediately. The person who attended to us was a young beautiful 24-year-old lady. It was love at first sight as I immediately started talking to the one who has now become my wife. The rest as they say is now history. I proposed to my wife in my flat at Off Allen Avenue, Lagos after a couple of years and got married to her in 1994 in Surulere, Lagos.
My love and respect for my wife has been sustained by the fact that we both share a lot in common. We both have genuine love for God, are both humble but brutally straightforward. My wife is also very modest but while am praying and hoping to become a billionaire, my wife is completely not materialistic.
Destiny fulfilled: As a university undergraduate a couple of my friends and I vowed never to marry anyone unless they were graduates of the University of Ife themselves.
ENGR OLUMUYIWA AIYEGBUSI – CEO OLO OLU FOODS (MARRIED TO OLUYEMISI AIYEGBUSI)
I met my wife during posting of NYSC programme in September 1983. I was busy at first sight to the extent I didn’t pay much attention but few days after we ran into each other again, I introduced myself.
I wouldn’t say it was ‘love at first sight’. However during my first visit to her house an incident happened that made me decided that “she must be my wife”. The toasting was not totally smooth sailing but the dating before proposal wasn’t prolonged. We knew we were made for each other and ready for marriage about 10 months after we first met. I proposed during post NYSC pass out vacation in London in 1984.
The summary of recipe for our lasting relationship of over 30 years is 1) Respect. 2). Communication 3) Complimentary and 4) Attention
We respect each other as individuals with potentials without sacrificing or suppressing our talents to excel. My wife respects me as head of the household and had never uttered curses or negative words in over 30 years to me We banter a lot, me teasing her and she teasing me about type of ladies she thinks I fancy. Very jovial and lively family environment. If you are a visitor to our house and not aware we are married you will likely think we are brother and sister
We compliment each other covering up for one another in our areas of shortcomings. No competition for supremacy Finally we pay attention to our individual needs, fulfilling each person’s role in the house but also in our lives.
Some 15 years ago one of our children came home and ask his mum, ” how come I never see you and daddy quarrel or fight?” . My wife asked why the question. He replied that some his friends come to school depressed about marriage squabbles and he told them his parents don’t fight. They told him it’s a lie, it’s not normal. My wife replied, ” daddy and I disagree but not to the extent of a shouting match”
That’s marriage personified
DAPO WILLIAMS – APC UK STALWART
I met my wife at a friend’s party for his girlfriend at the Lord’s Club in Maryland (Nigeria’s version of the US ‘SoulTrain’ a top of the pop TV music and dance programme in the 80’s)
She came with her friends to attend the birthday party of one of her friends at the club which I was a member. They were seated in the guests’ area and I and my friends were in the ‘members’ area and was introduced to me by her friend who happens to be the twin sister of the celebrant. I have heard about her before then and we had a chat, danced to a few numbers on the night. Since then we kept in contact by going for lunch at convenient locations as she was working with the First Bank at their Head office on Marina in Lagos and I was working with Chevron Oil Company on Victoria Island then. Our regular lunch venue then was The Museum Kitchen@Onikan if I am in town, as I work on the oil rig and dehydration locations in Escravos, Port Harcourt and Warri. The rest is history now.
To be honest, I had heard lots about her before then and I have been secretly ‘eyeing’ her by driving from my residence in Surulere or on my way back from the office past their house on Obalende Road in Ikoyi but didn’t have the courage to stop to say hi as she has a senior brother who was a top military officer who visits their parents regularly then as they lived very close to Dodan Barracks.
I proposed to her six months later on my birthday in March of the following year and we planned to get married on her birthday which was in September of the same year but because her birthday fell on a Monday (being a weekday) and her uncle who was going to chair the occasion Dele Giwa (of blessed memory) was out of the country but planned to return to Lagos on Wednesday of that particular week so we shifted the wedding to the first available Saturday which was five days later.
We got married at Catholic Church of Assumption, Falomo in Ikoyi area of Lagos, administered by Archbishop Olubunmi Okogie and the reception took place at the Military Officers Mess in Ikoyi.
We had our honeymoon in Canada and did a few shopping on our way back in New York and London to redeem some of our wedding gifts.
We have been living together now for thirty good years with a lovely home and a beautiful daughter.
We’ve had own share of marital teething experiences, but my wife is a ‘fighter’ as she survived my stray bullets! The secret of our sustainable marriage is valuing each other, respect for both families, communicating even when we’re having our ‘mini’ marital cold wars and daily prayers!
I am Yoruba from Lagos and my wife is from the old ‘Bendel’ now Edo State but they were all born, raised and schooled in Lagos in Lagos and are proper ‘omo eko’ She respects my Muslim background and I respect her catholic doctrines – we both have a common ground to serve God regularly. We don’t call ourselves by name but ‘Darl – both ways!
AYO DAPO OYEBADE – ACCOUNTANT AND NOLLYWOOD UK FILM PRODUCER (MARRIED TO HRH THEODORA IBEKWE-OYEBADE)
Theodora would claim that I had been stalking her for years. Our paths crossed numerous times without us noticing one another. I noticed her at a premier but finally spoke to her a few weeks later at another Amina premiere. And we struck up a friendship which later grew into a romance.
Although our romance was a slow burner, it was a relatively short toasting since we already jelled with and kind of fancied each other.
Getting married seemed to be a foregone conclusion, however, I bought an engagement ring and proposed one fine morning, nothing elaborate though, it was like “How about it then? Let’s get married”. For personal reasons, we had a secret wedding at our small church in Greenwich; our family and church members were the only guests.
The major ingredient for the success of our marriage is that we were first and foremost friends. And we are still each other’s best mate
DR DAYO OLOMU (MARRIED TO GODDESS SADE OLOMU)
When I relocated back to England, she relocated too. We didn’t see each other for years, but then we reconnected and later got married.
DR BOMA DOUGLAS – COMMUNITY LEADER & CHAIRMAN ENERGY INSTITUTE EI LONDON & HOME COUNTIES BRANCH. (MARRIED TO JUNE DOUGLAS)
I noticed my wife June years before she took notice of me. From the teenage years I had known that one pretty girl lived a few streets away. I knew everything about her family and the class to which she belongs. I had decided that if the circumstances avail itself I would make a proposal. I was not ready to spoil things by some casual form of meeting, I was prepared to wait for that opportunity.
We attended the same Church in our youthful days and I would always drive past her pretending not to have noticed her but I was dying to meet her. She knew that I recognised her. My family and circle of friends are well known to her. She worked as a PRO of a Computer firm and I worked as Project Engineer in a Construction firm. The offices were not far from each other. On a fateful day we met outside a Café opposite her office and I jokingly gave a bow and said, ‘hello your excellency’. Hell went loose. She accused me of purposely ignoring her while driving past. I profusely apologised and asked if we could have a chat in the café. We discussed our individual life history like casual friends but she never knew I had something in mind.
On the day I proposed, I offered to drop her off after work and she agreed. On the way I suggested to pick something up at my residence. She never suspected as I never even made a pass nor showed any kind of interest beyond offering to drop her off. As far as she was concerned we were simply too elites meeting up. She sat in the living room waiting for me to pick the item I wanted.
When I stepped into the living room, I went on my knees and proposed instantly. And she accepted.
We got married in St Cyprians Church Port Harcourt and had a reception in Presidential Hotel Port Harcourt.
We both see ourselves as friends who are still courting, we dress to please each other, and we express our thoughts freely and frankly. We share common interests and we never go to bed without resolving issues. The relationship is built on God’s divine grace. It has a strong foundation as both families knew themselves long before the marriage and supported the union when we introduced the subject. Love is the key to the lasting relationship.
OMOBA FEMI OKUTUBO – PUBLISHER, TRUMPET NEWSPAPERS AND FOUNDER GAB AWARDS. (MARRIED TO LOLA SOMOYE- OKUTUBO )
I met her in church through her brother who I had known from University days in Nigeria but with whom I later crossed paths on arrival in London.
It must have been love at first sight because I was attracted to her straight way, as she was quite pretty.
Our relationship did not start with toasting. Rather, we were friends for a very short while, but frequent chatting grew into a connection which developed into a romantic relationship. Marriage came as the normal progression. There was no formal or ceremonial proposal in the strictest sense.
We got married in London (Church) in 1992 and had a crowd-pulling wedding.
The great recipe for our lasting relationship has been the grace of God at work but I will also add patience and perseverance.
LORD VICTOR OLUSEGUN OLUWOLE – BROADCASTER AND EVENTS HOST, MARRIED TO LADY VANESSA OLUWOLE