Madam, I asked your husband what attracted him to you the first time he saw you and he said, of course, your beauty. But he also said something that struck me, he said your simplicity stood you out and that’s one thing we all saw all through the time you were by his side while he was governor. What shaped you into becoming the sort of person you are today?
To begin with, I grew up in a Christian home with a very loving father. I don’t think there’s any child that had a greater father than I did. He gave me a lot of love. He just gave me the world. So, this brings you out, makes you feel very confident of yourself. When you have a father and mother who love you very much and then they bring you up in the way of the Lord, between those two, you have no other choice but to turn out in the way they have raised you. They teach you that there is nothing you have that you have not received. If you are intelligent, God gave it to you. If you have good looks, God gave it to you. If you’re blessed to become governor’s wife, God gave it to you because you’re not the most hardworking and you’re not the richest. Anyone will tell you that the battle of leadership does not go to the strongest, but it’s God that gives the enablement and ability and once you recognize this fact, it humbles you and makes you appreciate the gift the Lord has bestowed on you. All that remains for you to do is to give back to people around. I think that is the very least people would expect from you.
What gave you the most joy while you were in the office?
For me, it was the fact that one was able to touch lives and improve the lot of others. You have the opportunity to give people direction. You have the opportunity to contribute to people’s lives. I have always been one that gives to my community. I was always a Brownie, a Girls Guide, Red Cross, so that has been my life. My husband getting into the office just gave me a larger platform to do what I’ve always loved to do.
I understand your marriage is about 34 years old now?
Yes, that’s correct.
It’s amazing because you two don’t look anything like two people who’ve been together for 34 years, you act like you only just got married not long ago. How have you been able to do this?
True friendship. We’ve been friends. We’ve been very good friends. And we put God first in everything we do. You should be friends with your spouse, it’s very important. When you are friends with your partner, you will enjoy it. Marriage is to be enjoyed not endured. So, if you look at it from that perspective you will see your husband as your friend. Your friends do things you don’t like, but you don’t let it get to the root of your friendship if you’re true friends, and that’s what we are. If friends can wrong each other and forgive each other, why can’t a husband and wife? I don’t hold things against my husband, we talk about it. We sit down to resolve issues and we move on from there. The motive is important, but as soon as you realize that a person has made a mistake just forgive him or her and let it go. People hold a lot of animosity in marriage and life because they won’t let go of the hurt or pain they have experienced. If you are in pain, let it go and continue the relationship if it still holds any value to you.
Your husband just shared with us how you guys met, let’s hear from you too.
Well, it’s basically the same story. We were both students in the faculty of Law at ABU but he was a year ahead of me. I met him the same day I arrived at the campus to register. He was campaigning for student union elections when he spotted me. After he was done campaigning, he came back to me and we chatted. We were friends for a long time before we decided to get married.
What precisely would you ascribe the success of your union to?
If you love God and love the fact that He loves marriage, it puts your union in a cruise state. When you approach marriage from that perspective, you will begin to appreciate your partner and overlook his errors because we are all humans after all.
Being a career woman, a practicing lawyer, especially years before you became the first lady, how were you able to devote time to the kids?
Of course, I devoted time for them. When my kids were younger, you would think I was a sucker mum if you saw me at their school, because I was always there. I remember my husband saying that I would have withdrawal symptoms once my kids left the school. I had made up my mind from the outset that no nanny would assist my kids with their homework. I don’t have a social life and my life revolves around work, family and church.
You are, like your husband, a very stylish woman. You always look absolutely gorgeous whenever you step out for public functions, although your style is simple the class is till unmistakable…
(Smiles) I dress to be comfortable and to be able to multitask. I love to dress in a smart but casual manner and that way, I can go from my office to church, to school to play with children or attend church. I love to feel comfortable and yet not too casual. I dress to be comfortable and to be able to multitask. I love to dress in a smart but casual manner and that way, I can go from my office to church, to school to play with children or attend church. I love to feel comfortable and yet not too casual.