Tokunbo Giwa-Amu is the pretty first daughter of Col. Tunde Akogun and Dame Tumini Akogun. She is a former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to 2 former Speakers of the House of Representatives but she doesn’t wear it like a badge. She is forever humble and down-to-earth. She’s hardworking too. Married to Mr. Kayode Giwa-Amu, Toks, as she’s fondly called, clocked 50 recently and would have preferred a quiet celebration but the people around her thought otherwise. They ended up celebrating her big-time. In this interview with City People’s Contributing Editor, IYABO OYAWALE, Tokunbo talks about her life at 50 and the lessons life has taught her. Read on for more!
You were 50 recently, how did it feel?
I’m not sure there was a particular feeling I felt but I just know that I waited for the day and I wanted to reflect that I was 50 but many people didn’t let me do that. I had feelings of gratitude and peace. I was like ‘Jesus you love me too much oo, too much oo, too much oo, excess love oo’.
So, people didn’t allow you to celebrate quietly?
I thought I wasn’t going to do anything but people called me from all over the world that they coming for my birthday and I said ‘don’t come, I’m not doing anything.’ I said I was going to do my workout since I’m a workout freak and have a very quiet communion. But alas, the workout I wanted to do, my workout people surprised me there. They appeared in my house at 5:30 in the morning, before I woke up. Can you believe that? My daughter had come to wake me and asked me to come up, I thought my parents were around to pray for me as my husband and I were in Abuja at the time. And, I got to the parlour and I was shocked, not surprised. So, from the beginning of the day till the evening, when my husband said ‘please don’t eat too much o, I’m taking you for dinner.’ I said ‘okay o’ and I got there and it was another surprise from my friends. People came in from Lagos and I was like. So, it was a day of gratitude and unexpected appreciation, let me put it that way.
Looking back, what would you say life has taught you at 50?
You know that verse in the Bible that says ‘all things work together for good to those who love the Lord’ (Romans 8:28) is making sense to me the more because you know as you grow, you feel as if ‘I’ve got so much to do. I haven’t done this and I’m yet to.’ You know you never feel you’ve done enough. And, I’ve always said that I don’t want to have any regrets and I’ve always worked towards that. Today, I don’t have any regrets, everything will come together at some point. Everyday, I understand that things are working out for me.
You’re the first daughter and only girl of Col. Akogun and Dame Tumini Akogun, how was it like, growing up?
(Laughs). Growing up was very interesting because we were military children and the younger parts of our lives, we were in the barracks. We weren’t in the barracks for too long though. It was interesting because my father will always tell my brothers, ‘she’s your senior sister and you must respect her.’ My dad was very playful with us. He was a military man and tough outside but he was very playful with us. I had to learn many things by watching other people, and I remember my dad teaching me for my Common Entrance. We’ll lock ourselves in the room and I saw that there was more to him than being a soldier. He sort of knew things without reading the book and that was quite interesting. I learned to learn by listening. Till now, I tell people that if I have an exam, I’d revise by discussing with other people. Growing up, I was learning by watching other people, listening to other people, and then, yea, it was fun.
Was it your mum or dad that influenced you most, growing up?
That’s a good question (laughs). Are you trying to put me in trouble here?
No. No (laughs). They both influenced me in different ways. My dad was a military man but at home, he was not exactly that military man. He was fun, playful, kind, loving, jovial, all of that but my mum was the real toughie. My dad is coming back and everybody is coming out, my mum is coming and everybody is going in. My dad, I tell people, makes me understand how easy it is to love. And love conquers all. He makes me understand it’s so much easier to love than to fight. My mum taught me that life is not always easy. You have to work hard, don’t trust people easily, and everybody must be beneficial to you. I think I’ve gained different things from both of them.
So, for how many years have you been married?
We’ll be 28 years in December.
How has marriage to Mr. Kayode Giwa-Amu been?
I was telling somebody recently that marriage is the hardest exam that you never finish doing. You know how you’re doing Maths and every test carries marks and you keep going? It’s both interesting and fun. We’re both different but we enjoy each other’s company. Then, we learn a lot from each other. Like my parents are, Ma Prince, like I call him, is so different from me. He’s like my mum. God gave me my mother because He knew I’d be married to my husband, Kayode Giwa-Amu. He’s so different from me. While I’m a little more relaxed, he’s always like ‘live on the edge, do what you have to do, be very observant,’, but I’m like ‘life is not so hard; take it easy’ (laughs). So, we complement each other. It’s just like a book that you keep reading, sometimes, you get angry, sometimes, you laugh. We’re lovers, we’re friends, interesting.
You guys are like high school sweet hearts because I know you got married in your last year at the University of Ibadan.
I was 16, he was 21. I think for people, when you meet somebody younger, you sort of fall in love with the person. It’s easier to grow with the person as opposed to when you grow up, you’d have been more matured but we grew as friends before we got married.
So, how was it like working with the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara as SSA?
I actually worked with Tambuwal before Dogara, so, it was quite interesting as they were 2 different personalities. But, I realized that politics is politics. You get to meet people, you gain access to ideas that come up, and you feel like doing something to better your country. They were both interesting.
Your father is in politics and you worked with 2 former House of Reps. Speakers, does it mean you also want to lean into politics later in life?
If I get an appointment, I’ll gladly take it because I look forward to doing something for Nigeria, to make a difference. However, politics is a lot of work. I’m so much an easier person and in politics, you make a lot of enemies, let me put it that way. I don’t think I’m ready for that but if I’m given an appointment, I’ll gladly take it.
You write a daily devotional, Sounds of Joy, how did you get into that?
One day, I heard a voice telling me to start writing a devotional and I was like ’what’s that?’ but the voice kept coming. I was like ‘why should I write a devotional, there are so many devotionals out there, I read Pastor E. A. Adeboye’s devotional, Open Heavens daily, how could my own be different?’ But the voice kept coming and I obeyed. And, words were coming. And, the first one that I wrote, I heard a testimony about it. It’s supposed to be sold but I always give it out. My children are like ‘mum, you should be selling this thing’ but I gave it out one day at the place where I work out. I probably travelled for a little bit and came back and the guy I gave the devotional to was there. He ran to me excitedly, telling me, ‘Aunty, I’ve been looking for you for so long.’ I did not remember who he was. He said, ‘you gave us a devotional, that day you gave us that devotional, I was thinking of killing myself.’ But as he opened it, the first thing he read, changed his mind, and I just said, ‘okay Lord, thank you.’ Because I wrote that one and actually stopped but that was the confirmation that I should keep going. And, I hope that as people read it, joy will well up from deep within them.
When did you start writing it?
I started it 4 years ago.
What do you do as a TimeOut Coach? I saw the programme you want to do in December.
The programme I want to do in Dubai is actually part of my life coaching programmes. I want to take women to Dubai to relax and add in life coaching. Like I tagged this ‘face the mirror, put the blush on’. Within these 5 days, you’ll see yourself for who you are, in a more relaxed setting, bring out a new you, and come back refreshed. It’s all about becoming bigger, brighter, bolder and stronger. It’s from 7th to 12th of December, 2022.
So, your work as a TimeOut Coach is basically life coaching and your target are women?
I do both as well but mostly women.