Not many know that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, still has a mum who’s still going strong, mentally alert and aging gracefully. Her name is Mrs. Olubisi Osinbajo and she is about 87 years old. She was an accomplished teacher before she retired to enable her pay full attention to raising her children. After the death of her husband, Engr. Opeolu Osinbajo in 1996, had to take up the responsibility of raising the children all alone. And very clearly, she has done a great job with her children. Her first child, VP Yemi Osinbajo’s elder brother, Femi Osinbajo, read Politics and Economics at the University of Ife (now 0bafemi Awolowo University), he was born on July 29, 1955. Professor Yemi Osinbajo followed, he was born on March 8, 1957. Akin Osinbajo, who was also a former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ogun State came in 1960 while Tunde Osinbajo followed in 1962. Tolu Osinbajo, now Mrs. Okulaja, the only girl, (she also read Law) was born in 1970.
Expectedly, it couldn’t have been easy raising a family of four restless and boisterous boys. In an interview with the Punch newspaper, she said, “It was a tough one,” she recalls with that glint of joy in her eyes that you only find on the faces of women who are exceedingly proud of their children. “When you are dealing with boys, you don’t sleep with your two eyes closed, and I would give you some instances to buttress that point. One night, I went round the rooms to make sure they had all slept. However, there was one empty bed and I wondered where the occupant of the bed could be at that time. I took a chair to the front of the house and I was there till about 4am, when one of my sons drove into the compound in my car. I didn’t even know that he could drive. He changed into his pajamas and tip-toed into the house; immediately he saw me, he shouted “mummy” in surprise. We held each other and began crying. He asked me if I had sat there the whole night, and I told him that I couldn’t sleep, knowing that one of my children was not in his bed. He prostrated and begged me not to tell his dad about his escapade. I told him that I wouldn’t inform his dad only if he promised that he wouldn’t repeat the act. On another occasion, one of my sons drove in someone else’s car and he had an accident in it with his girlfriend. When I was informed, I rushed to the scene and took him to the hospital; and the parents of the girl also did the same. I asked them to x-ray his head to make sure that nothing was wrong with him because he hit his head on an object when the accident occurred.
As a mother, you have to be active. Sometimes, you have to put on trousers and show them that you can act like them. When they jump, you jump too; and that is why I am called ‘Mummysco’. I thank God that everything is alright today. Parenting is not easy; it takes the grace of God to succeed at it. You cannot train children on your own; you can only pray for God to help you.”
She recalled her fears and that of their father when the boys were maturing and growing into young adolescents. Not that they were reckless and unserious young men, but there was always the fear that, as boys, they could get a girl pregnant. “Daddy always told them that if they impregnated any girl, they would have to marry the person, whoever she was. He told them that he did not care if the girl sold pepper or salt, he would ensure they got married. We were happy that they didn’t ‘touch’ anybody till they got married.”
How did she feel when vice president Yemi Osinbajo signified his intentions to go into politics and what kind of advice did she give to him?
“We don’t like politics. My husband and I also told our children not to partake in politics. However, Femi was once a councilor. But he later resigned and returned home. He said he could not cope with them. When we heard of Yemi’s own, we knew that it was God that put him there. Since then, we have been praying; I cannot rest again. I pray for him every minute; even when I see him on TV. I always tell God to take care of him. He is a man of God and he always advises me that I shouldn’t be worried; rather, I should pray. Whenever you pray for your children, God answers.”
One of the pains that come with being the mother of the vice president is that she has to endure the myriads of insults hurled at her son and the government by Nigerians who feel increasingly displeased and unhappy with the government over its inability to deliver on its promises to Nigerians at the time they were coming in. How does he feel when shears people speak ill of her son or criticize the government? “I do not feel anyhow. I only pray for him and I know that he is doing his best. I know that it is God that put them there, and He has established them. When you put things in God’s hands, you are sure that everything would be alright.”
What is her relationship with the vice president like, now that he is vice president of the country, does she still scold him once in a while? Yes, I do, and on occasions like that, he calls me ‘Mummysco’. It doesn’t matter how big they are now, they are still my children.”
Taking her way back in time, she was asked how she met her late husband. And her eyes lit up with excitement. “I met him when I was very young; I was still living with my sister then,” she revealed. “He was a friend to my sister’s husband. I regarded him as an elderly person because he was 14 years older than me. After his training in the UK, he came to look for somebody else at the girls’ school where I taught. I saw him in the entrance hall and I greeted him. He expressed surprise at knowing I also worked in the school. I went to inform the person (Miss. Adegunle) he came to see that she had a visitor. Meanwhile, Miss Adegunle already had a boyfriend. I never saw him as a boyfriend because he was much older than I was. Three weeks later, he visited me in the school. He talked to me and he was very serious about it. I told my parents about it and they sanctioned the union because he was a much-disciplined man; he is not like the men of nowadays. My father was pleased about it, but in the place where I come from, Ejigbo in Osun State, they didn’t like getting married to Ijebu people. However, my mum was from Ilaro in Ogun State. We eventually got married and we were together till he passed on in 1996. He loved me and I loved him. I used to cook about five different dishes per meal for him. He was very pleased with me, and I was with him as well. After we got married, he told me to stop working and focus on training the children. We were just managing, seeking and worshipping God. We brought up all our children in the way of God and we trained them to be humble. By the grace of God, they (children) did everything that we told them to do.”
-WALE LAWAL (08037209290)
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