•Their 29 Year Old Love Story Revealed
Property developer, Otunba Yemi Saheed Lawal and his wife, Ayotunde, are a hot couple in Lagos. Both have managed to keep their marriage waxing stronger for the past 29 years. Not too long ago, his wife recounted how she met her husband when she went to a bank to transact business in those good old days. Yemi, then a banker in that branch insisted on being the one to attend to her until both began to develop affection for each other until Yemi proposed to her. Ayo revealed how many people felt their marriage would not last long for so many reasons.
She also revealed how many persons tried to discourage Yemi by gossiping about her to him and about him to her. Rather than make their relationship break up it strengthened it because both of them have a habit of sharing all these gossips between them and they often laughed it off.
In this interview, Yemi Lawal who is the MD/CEO of Seagle Properties, one of the leading property developers at the Oniru area of Lagos, reveals how he met Ayotunde and what made him propose to her.
How did you meet your wife? When did you marry her?
It has been 29 years that I met her. I met her in December 1991 and we got married in 1992, 6 months after. My wife has had a very strong impact on my development and my career because she has always been very supportive. She has been so encouraging. She is a very supportive wife, I pray that my children will have a kind of supportive wife like that.
A lot of people don’t know her more than I do. I know her more than she knows herself because I hold her key. Looking at her from outside, she looks very, very tough. But inside, she is a very, very soft person. It took me time to understand her. But now, I do. I understand her very well and I can open and close her, any day, anytime.
We play a lot. She is my friend. She’s my best friend. She is a nice woman. She is supportive. She is prayerful. With her prayers, God has made us get to this level. We started from nobody. We thank God for what God has done in our lives and in our relationship. All our children are doing very well.
They all schooled abroad. We thank God for what God has done for this family, for my wife & I especially, for Gods support. It wasn’t easy initially. He has been wonderful. We don’t have anything else to say than to thank God.
This is my opportunity to thank her for just being so incredible. Every year, she gets more amazing, more beautiful, savvier, and more just plain wonderful. Her positive outlook on life, no matter how chaotic the world is around her, is remarkable. She is one of the kindest, most understanding and caring person on the face of the planet that I have the honour of knowing.
It was just like yesterday when a beautiful lady walked into the banking hall at Equatorial Bank Ereko branch to transact business. I could not take off my eyes from her and walked up to her to enquire if I could be of any help not realising that I was the one who really needed assistance. This was December 8, 1992.
Let me tell you a little more about Ayo. My wife’s greatest desire in life is to give and receive love. She loves doing for other people; giving everything she has for the benefit of others. Ayo has given me unequal support any man could get from a woman right from the moment she promised my dad that she will make a difference in my life!
I was writing the ICAN final examination when I met Ayo. The early stage of the relationship affected my ICAN lectures at student PYE ICAN Tutors then as I skipped lectures and get home late to keep a date with my new lover. She often goes to the lecture hall with me assisting with note-taking. I did not always go home straight after lectures; I must first go home with her at Surulere before heading to Oshodi. I was coming home regularly, an occurrence my late father could not understand. He knew how committed I was in getting qualified as a chartered accountant by not allowing a distraction. Ayo was, therefore, a positive distraction I could not cope with nor control as I lost total control of my senses.
On one of her visits to our house, she met my dad who could not hide his likeness for her and immediately warned her not to waste her time with me; Yemi can never be serious or committed to any lady he said. In her usual words, she said: “God forbids, Yemi is a serious guy and he will make a change”. Ayo was committed to that statement up to this moment. That statement made by my father that day create a negative in my relationship with other ladies after our wedding; Ayo would not want to see any lady around me based on the warning from my father. My friends gave her a pet name of Madam don’t touch my husband. My mum too had a share of it as she was jokingly warned to stop calling me “Oko mi” (my husband) as mothers will call their sons. It wasn’t funny at all. I can’t blame her she wouldn’t want to share her fine Aremu with anyone. We thank God that with age, trust, coupled with the fact that she has to focus more on the children now, all that has changed. Attention is now on my boys. Ayo has been a committed and dutiful wife to me from the very day I set my eyes on her. My friends became her friends and whoever is against me becomes her enemy. She was there for me during the 3 seasons of life. There is no way our children (3 boys and 2 girls) could ever fill her love quotient, so thankfully. She puts her life in God and trusts others and as a result, others love her greatly. She has a significant impact on the Alhaji Lawal Odutolu’s family and loved by my siblings. My elder brother gave her a pet name of Ori-aran (the one to be cherished), while my sister pet name for her is Iya ewe and my father “Iyawo Alhaji”. She is loved by everyone. Ayo has a very tough disposition and very bold; inside of her is a very soft lady who can not hurt a fly and does not pretend or hide her feelings. A spade to her is a spade and will express her feelings without any fear of favour, but could be proud if she wanted to, but she is very humble and I am very proud of her.
Ayotunde is a devoted Christian and supports the family with strong prayers. She is, in fact, my prayer warrior. In spite of her strong Christian background, she wanted to convert to Islam when we got married and enrolled at an Arabic school at Ansar-ud-deen Central Mosque at Alakoro and attended the Friday Jumat prayers in Okearin, Lagos Island, but I advised her to continue with her Christianity and continue to support the family with prayers. She has the usual ability to out-think me. She never second-guesses my decisions and never criticizes me in public. She never says an unkind word about me to others. I always know she is my greatest supporter. I could never do what I do without her encouragement. My life is not complete without her and I could not have married a better person.
Her faith is rock-solid; far greater than mine is at times. I recall on the day after our wedding, I called her aside and warned her to be ready for stress, I did not see how I could be a good husband and cope with the challenges of the marriage. She assured me that if we can pray and trust in God, it will work out. We have taken some huge leaps of faith together as a couple and they would have never happened without her willingness and strength. (Thank you, Ayo, for always allowing me to pursue my dreams). Ayo is a child of God first and a wife and mother second, but I could never imagine anyone having a stronger instinct and desire to be a wife and mother than she has. The best times of her life are when we are doing something together. It doesn’t matter what, as long as she is with me. (I honestly don’t understand that completely, because I am often sarcastic and impatient but I’m glad she feels that way and I want to work to keep that desire in her heart). The children and I depend on Ayo greatly. She keeps our house and lives running efficiently. Ayo has been a great mom to our boys, allowing the four of us to behave like boys, even in the house, even when she gets nervous that we are “playing a little rough”. That has helped produce a home where our boys (and I) love to be.
Our girls have a good role model in their mother. Today, on her 50th birthday, I want to honour Ayo for being my wife, my best friend, my lover, and my helpmate. She’s my best friend, confidante, advice desk, gourmet chef, favourite artist, and the ultimate life partner. Best of all, she’s a world-class mom. It’s an absolute joy seeing her special gifts reflected in our daughters and the wonderful input she has in the boys.
They have no idea how blessed and supremely lucky we all are to have her. I would not want to face life without her. God knew what He was doing (as He always does) when He led me to Ayo I am glad I listened to Him! I am happy I did not try to control the positive distraction of 25 years ago. I appreciate and love her with all my heart.