•RevolutionPlus GMD, BAMIDELE ONALAJA’s Wife, TOLULOPE
This woman is absolutely pretty. She is gorgeous. And she has got everything a sensible man would wish to have in a woman. She is tenacious, hardworking and very, very down to earth. And she has got poise too, with lots of class and panache. But most importantly, she has got brains, tons and tons of it. The only problem is, this very adorable looking mother of two amazing kids is already taken! Her name is Mrs. Tolulope Onalaja, she is the cute cute wife of the Real Estate industry’s brightest mind, Mr. Bamidele Onalaja, and together, they both run Revolutionplus, one of Nigeria’s most flourishing Real Estate companies. If you ask the ever smart and cool looking Bamidele Onalaja, he will tell you that his wife is the engine room of the company. He has entrusted into her care the entire finances of the company by making her the Group Executive Director, And from what we see, they are both doing incredibly well, elevating the company every year, possibly far beyond their own expectations.
Not long ago, this amazing couple who relish hanging out and doing things like they were still lovers dating each other, celebrated their 8th wedding anniversary. It came as a big surprise to many who couldn’t believe their marriage had already clocked eighteen solid years. This is because this power couple who sit atop one of the biggest Real Estate conglomerates in the country don’t act like they have been married for that long. They are always seen together and are forever happy together. They cut the picture of young lovers who only just got married not so long ago.
Two Sundays ago, Tolulope and her husband were at the City People awards where their company, Revolutionplus, picked up the award of the Most Innovative Real Estate company of the Year. City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL (08037209290) cornered Mrs. Tolulope Onalaja and asked her to share with us a few things about their marriage and how it has been able last for eighteen years and still counting despite all of the pressures hitting marriages badly in this part of the world.
It’s always a pleasure speaking with you, madam. Let’s begin by congratulating you on the recent celebration of your 18th wedding anniversary. How do you feel seeing that your union has actually clocked 18 years?
I feel happy. I feel grateful to God. Eighteen years feels like it was just yesterday. When I look back and I see that eighteen solid years have passed, it feels wonderful, I can tell you that. And I am grateful to God and to my husband for making this happen.
What I have found particularly enviable about your marriage is that you and your husband always come out looking like lovers, like you’re still dating. It’s so beautiful to see that, after 18 years, you guys are still best of friends. As the woman of the house, how have you been able to achieve this?
Alright, the thing is, I always tell ladies, make sure you marry your friend because after some certain years, especially with life’s challenges coming in, all the sparks might be begin to fade such that at a time, you won’t even be having sex. But if you’re married to your best friend, it is the friendship that will keep you going during those difficult times. One of the things that have worked for me and my husband is that we are best of friends and we gist a lot. Someone still teased us in church earlier today that both of you will be gisting as if you’re not going back to the same house. We always have things to gist each other, that’s how strong the bond between us is. Another thing that has worked for us is that we work together. That has enabled us bond even more. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. He operates where his strength lies in the business, I operate where mine lies. And because we work together, we can’t fight for long or keep malice because there is always something to discuss. Even our kids will say, don’t mind our mummy and daddy o, you think they are fighting, next minute now, they will be playing with each other. So, we can’t fight because there is always something we need to talk about or sort out. If we are not talking about the children, we’re talking about the business or the family. And you know, with business, ah, oro owo le leyi, so we just have to address the issue and move on. So, working together has helped us.
Okay, but when you do have your own little arguments or quarrels, who often says sorry first?
Ah! It’s my husband o! That’s why I always wonder sometimes about men that keep malice, why should a man begin to keep malice? My husband does not know how to do that, he doesn’t have the time nor the energy for it. One principle that has worked for us is that, my husband has made up his mind long ago that we will never sleep over a misunderstanding. It must settle on the bed. If we have any misunderstanding during the day, the worst it can go is that night. It must be settled in bed that night. That has always worked for us. So, whenever he is made chairman of a wedding, he tells the young couples, one thing that has worked for my union is that I do not let our misunderstandings roll into the next day. So, me, I always know he will come and settle whatever issue we have so, I will be waiting for him to come and beg me. And he is ready to apologise, even if he is not at fault. He will tell me that, you know you’re the one at fault, but just for peace to reign, I’m sorry. He is more matured than me in a lot of ways, maybe because he is six years older than me. If he was my age mate, maybe we will be dragging issues most of the time, but out of maturity, he just chooses to come down for me and let peace reign.
If you were to mention three key things that have helped your marriage over the years, what would those three things be?
Okay, number one is the God factor. Both of us are very committed Christians. We don’t joke with God. Like my pastor will say, someone that loves God, it is easy for him to love man. Most of the marital problems we have today is largely due to people who only love themselves, coming together. They are selfish with their love. So, for us, that God factor in our lives has helped. Our marriage is built on selflessness. We are thinking of other’s best interest ahead of ourselves. Secondly, is the friendship we share. We are best of friends. That has helped us greatly. And another thing is we constantly work at our union because the truth is, if you want your union to work, you have to work at it o, because soon it will become boring and monotonous. Because when you do the same thing over and over again and you’re living with each other, you will be tired of each other. That’s why we try to be creative about our union. We create time out to be together. You see me, I don’t miss our wedding anniversary celebrations. I’m always thinking of where next to go just to keep the sparks going. Same thing with my husband, he is always coming up with new ideas to keep the fire burning. He is always telling me, let’s go to the gym, let’s go to this new place, because he knows its important that we are both creative about the union.
How romantic is he? On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your husband?
Ah! My husband o! I will rate him 9 over 10..He is very romantic.
Wow! Is it because he’s your husband?
No, oh, I am telling you seriously, if I should come to this world again and they tell me to choose a husband, I will choose my husband again. I am telling you, he is a very good person.
Have there been times when you have had to remind him of your birthday or wedding anniversaries?
Lailai! My husband, ke? He never forgets. Never. He has never forgotten our weddings, or my birthday, like some typical men do. In fact, he is always planning my birthdays ahead, trying to ensure that my day is memorable. He has never forgotten my birthday. Even the children’s birthdays, he never forgets. In fact, this my last birthday, I now knelt down before him and said, I know what it means for a man t your level for you to put in so much efforts, with attention to the smallest detail, just to do this for me. Beyond the money now, I was appreciating the thought behind it, the efforts he put in just to make me happy. And I respect him for that. He got someone to help me buy the best hair. He got people to come and serenade me. Then, he loves my parents. My husband loves my parents. At times, I just look at him and I say thank you God for giving me this man. My dad is not feeling well, come and see the way he carries him, hugs him, takes care of him and I will be like, God, how many men can do this for their parents –in-law? My parents love him so much, they are ever so thankful I made the right choice. I am the only girl in the family and the first born, so they are so grateful to God.
So, if you were to come back again to this world, you will definitely go for him…
Ah! I will be looking for my HP. I call him HP. I will just be shouting, HP mi da o? Where is my HP? E ba mi wa HP mi o.
Looking back, what was the attraction for you back then, over 20 years ago? Clearly, looking at how gorgeous you look all the time even as a mother with kids, you must’ve been stunning back then with many men breathing down your neck for friendship, so how come you chose him?
You know, I used to tell this young generation something, but they will say, no, Aunty Tolu, that was your own time o, in our own time, if you follow one man and suffer with him, he will abandon you when things begin to look good for him, so I just leave them and keep quiet. But what worked for me is this. My husband was the poorest amongst the men chasing after me. He didn’t have a car. He was earning just 20,000. I had a guy who was working in Standard Trust Bank then. He used to give me new notes. He had a car, a Honda Civic. But one thing I noticed about that guy, he wasn’t committed to God. If you ask him, did you go to church today? He will tell you, I’m busy, I’m tired. So, I told myself, if I marry this one, he won’t go to church o, and he would dissuade me from the things of God. So, I told myself, let me not be carried away with material things. Then, I was also doubting that guy’s faithfulness too. There were a lot of things I considered. There were a few other guys too and most of them had cars, but my husband didn’t. But one thing I saw in him was I saw someone who loves God, I saw a selfless person. My husband could give you his eyes literally. If he had money, he would do much more than these guys. And I could see he was doing his best. But the day I made up my mind that I was going to ask all these suitors to go was when I got a job. He was the one that got me that job. That was in 2002. He now said, you don’t have clothes to start work with, let me take you to Ikeja under bridge where you can get some bend down select clothes, that’s what my purse can afford to get you for now.
So, he took me there and spent N18,000. And I know he was earning only N20,000 then. I now asked him, how are you going to survive for the rest of the month when you have already spent N18,000 out of your salary? He now told me not to worry, that he also sells telephones through the company he worked for then. So, I was like, if this one had N1,000,000, he will spend 800k on me o. And I noticed he was genuine about it, not because he was trying to woo me. I also noticed that was his lifestyle. Even amongst his friends, he was like that. So, I took him to my parents and they blessed him. He was the only man I took to my parents out of the men chasing after me. Its one of the reasons he loves my parents because they accepted him for who he was back then and never pressured me to dump him and go for another man. He spoils them silly, changes their cars every now and then, renovates their home and so many other things just to make sure they’re happy. He believes we should spoil them silly now that they are alive.
How have you been able to keep yourself looking good for him all the time, especially seeing that he too is not looking his age at all?
Ah! That’s one mistake most women make. As God is helping your husband and lifting him up, improving him, you also must work on yourself to meet up to his standards. That’s why you see some men, when they get to a certain stage, they start thinking, let me go and take another wife that really befits my new status. A lot of women don’t understand that you need to grow. As your man is growing, you have to grow with him. Me, my husband will say my wife can look like my girlfriend if I’m taking her to the club with me, she can look like my wife if we’re going to certain occasions, and that’s because I made up my mind to work on myself. Even my husband too will not let me rest, he is always looking for ways to get me looking beautiful all the time for him.