What You Don’t Know About Eng. SEYI MAKINDE
His Wife Too Is An Engineer!
Do you know that there is a soft side of Engineer Seyi Makinde, PDP Governor elect of Oyo state you don’t know? We can tell you authoritatively that the darling husband of Engineer Tamunominini, the Managing Director of Makon Engineering, is a doting father and a caring husband to his wife of over 22years.
Perhaps you also don’t know that the new Oyo First lady to be, Mrs. Tamunominini Makinde is an Engineer. She has ‘Double Honours BBA/MBA (with first class) from the Thomas University, Houston, Texas in the United States of America.
Not until her husband began to contest for the first public office in Oyo State, she has always loved to stay off public radar. Despite being an Engineer, she is one of the best hands in that sector. Did you just ask how Engineer Seyi Makinde was able to marry his wife who is also an Engineer? What is their love story like? Why did he watch his wife giving birth to their kids? What has kept his marriage? These were among many questions he answered when he granted an interview with Punch Newspaper many months ago when he spoke about his wife, his kids, his love story, how he never had girlfriends in University of Lagos and why he watched his wife givebirth his kids. Enjoy it.
At 50, what does fatherhood mean to you?
From the day I got married about 20 years ago and now that my first child is 19, things have changed in the meaning of fatherhood. Some years back, I decided where to take the children to but now that my children are coming of age, they challenge that decision. It’s a great transition that I cherish.
My definition of fatherhood generally is one who cares for the family, dictates the pace and one who listens to other opinions of family members. There are changes that I am still adapting to, because the children are beginning to have their own idea of what their future will be.
What major parental lessons did you learn from your parents?
There are lots of them. I was close to my father and we discussed like friends. He told me a lot of things and even on his death bed, the bond remained intact. But one thing I regret is that I should have worried more about his health, perhaps he would have lived longer than 75. I thought that because he was strong, I would start worrying about his health when he clocked 80. But he passed on. One major lesson in it for me and my children is that we should regularly check our health status.
You said that your daughter who is now 19 loves talking about Nigeria while the other two are western in nature. Are you making any attempt to change that attitude?
I am not making any attempt to ‘Nigerianise’ them. The major task I shoulder is to put some values in them and make them citizens of the world. I would love them to have the same vision as I do but while God created me in this corner of the world, and while I always feel that whatever I become in life is owed to this environment, it is not the same with the other two children I have. They were born in the United States and that was God’s design.
My wife was to be delivered of our first child in the US. We just arrived in Nigeria on a honeymoon but the US embassy refused to grant her a visa to have the child in the US. It was only granted after she put to bed. The child was born at Braithwaite Hospital in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
A few days ago, I was talking to my daughter and she said that she wanted to bring some of her friends to Nigeria for my birthday. But she later said that she might not come because of the ticket price and that she would come for spring break. Sometimes, God designs His ways differently from man’s thinking and that is why we call him God.
Did you put pressure on you children to study certain courses?
My father wanted me to be a medical doctor but I wanted engineering. He put pressure on me so I said that he should allow me to make a choice based on my secondary school certificate result. I deliberately didn’t do well in Biology. But I made distinctions in other science subjects. That was how we settled that.
My daughter is studying in a business school in the US. Before then, she came to me and told me what she wanted. I agreed after arguing. It’s her career and she will be responsible for what she makes of it. I don’t put pressure on them to do certain courses or make certain grades. It could have a negative influence on them.
What do you enjoy mostly as a father?
My mother used to say that I was a brilliant child but when it comes to domestic work, I was a lazy boy. It’s funny but there are a few things I do now at home that are special at home. It’s a way of bonding with the family and helping my wife in the kitchen.
What are those things?
I grill at home when we relax at weekends. They love eating my steak as well. My family will say to me that I make the best steak in this part of the hemisphere. This makes the time we spend together to be special.
How did you celebrate your 50th birthday?
Fifty is just a number but attaining that age is by God’s grace. It is always right to thank Him for the gift of life. I was lucky to be born on Christmas Day but that was a burden too during my childhood. While my siblings got gifts on their birthdays and on Christmas day, I only got one on my birthday which is Christmas day. I argued with my parents but I did not win.
Staying at home to merry with my children and wife alone is a way of celebrating, but it will be good to reach out to the less privileged especially since I can afford to help some of them solve their problems. I visited hospitals to assist people who have not been able to pay their medical bills and put smiles on their faces.
I was satisfied doing that before having a party with friends who appreciate our relationship. One has been able to show leadership example to certain individuals and mentor others to succeed in life. I thank God for creating me in an environment where I have been able to make a difference. You don’t need much money to save the lives of people. You can save a life with as much as N1000.
You became a father at 31. Would you have wished to attain that status earlier?
Not really in the true sense. I had no girlfriend throughout my five years at the University of Lagos. I was telling that story to some people that my name should actually be Seyi ‘Jonz.’ In those days, we called those socially deficient and without a girlfriend “Jonzers.’
I was quite young also at that point. I arrived in Port Harcourt for my service year at 22 and the environment was totally new. Before then, I was thinking of joining the Nigerian Army after graduation. But after arriving in Port Harcourt, I knew that it was a place where I would build a career and begin life as a man.
The first couple of years, I was focused on my career. I was not a social person like I said. I met my wife during the service year. We got married more than seven years later. This means that I have known her for more than half of my years.
How did you feel when you had your first child?
The truth is that I thought I was going to have only one child.
Did you arrive at that decision with your wife?
She wanted two children but I said one. As a gentleman, I later conceded to her desire. We had a daughter first and two years later, we had another daughter and then the trouble started. The story changed because she wanted a boy. I was done having two children. The argument continued for some years and I thought that if we continued dragging it, it would naturally die down.
But I was wrong because the argument continued for five years. I guessed that some people pressured her that as an Ibadan man, she must give me a boy. I agreed with her and had to read many books on how to make a boy. My strategy later worked and she let me be after that.
How did you feel becoming a father for the first time?
I thought we were going to have a boy so I planned to name him Seyi. But when God gave us a daughter, I turned the ‘S’ in Seyi to ‘F.’ So, her name is Feyi. But on a more serious note, it was fun becoming a father. My wife gave a sign of giving birth at home and I was confused while trying to rush her into the car. After she was delivered of the baby, the joy was all over the house.
Did you witness your wife give birth?
I did not witness the delivery of the baby. My wife gave birth at a public hospital and we were not allowed to go into the delivery room. But for the other two children, I witnessed their deliveries and even recorded the two occasions.
What was the experience like?
Let me just say that the experience brought me closer to God.
What funny thing did you do that you did not repeat again after you became an experienced father?
I had a training programme in the United Kingdom the day after my wife was delivered of the baby. On my way back, I stopped at a bookshop and bought books for her. When I arrived home, I showed the books to my godfather in Port Harcourt. He laughed and said that the baby would not read until she was two or more. It was part of the excitement of becoming a father for the first time.
When you are angry with your children, how do you discipline them?
I have only beaten my first daughter once, when she was around two. I told her to do something but she refused. We were living in Nigeria then. But when they all moved abroad, I only had to correct them. You know that there is a way that the US government regards parents who beat a child. It’s not our culture but when you find yourself in another man’s land and there is clash of culture, your host’s culture comes first. But that is not saying that we allow the children rot away. They have been taught what to do and what not to do.
How close are you to your children?
They once looked at me after getting ready for an occasion and asked me what the occasion was. I told them it was a cocktail. They said that instead of wearing trousers and T-shirt, I should change to business casual. We do talk about things like that.
My second daughter once said that she was considering having another piercing in her ears. I told her to show me where it is encouraged in the Bible. I also told her that when she became an independent woman at a legal age, she could go ahead spending her money to do it, but not with my money. She once told me that she would take a gap a year after high school but I told her that since I was paying for her education, I must have my way.
My son also once came to me and asked me if I wanted him to run my company. I told him that he is not an engineer and that he is still in school. Arguments like that do come and we have a way of making reason prevail.
Is there a difference between the Makinde the people know and the one at home?
There is a Makinde who is a caring father and another Makinde who cares for the good of the people without being arrogant. Both characters are housed in one body.
You desire to govern Oyo State. Would you settle for something less if you fail in this regard?
My ambition is not driven by the quest to gain power but to help the people of the state using the instrument of government. I have done a lot in helping others as an individual but we can do more with government backing.
I am not having a rethink. I am going to continue to seek that opportunity and make myself available and clear to the people on what I want to do to make our lives better in the state.
Before now, they said I was too young and untested. At 50, I am no longer young, maybe they will say that I am not too young but untested. But if we talk about changing the system, you have to look at certain things being done in an unsatisfactory way. Then you have to come up with a better way of doing it for the society.
Why are you going back to the Peoples Democratic Party after you parted ways with the party?
The 2019 election will not be about the party but the individual character and antecedents. I could have taken a political appointment to boost my profile, but I am a grand master in starting something from the scratch and growing it. I started a company with a long-term vision and we have been able to achieve many things. As a politician, I am starting from a plain sheet of paper to give the people what they deserve.