FORMER President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, referred to his first and only legal wife (she is the only one he got married to at the marriage registry), Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo as his divorced wife in his latest book, My Watch.
But did the two time president actually divorce the woman? Going by the woman’s account in her book, Bitter-Sweet My Life with Obasanjo, the former president did not divorce her legally at least.
According to her, she was the one who went to court in 1975, to seek divorce but was prevailed upon by Alhaji M. D. Yusuf, the former Inspector General of Police and a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) on the ground that the government (Murtala administration) in which her husband was second-in-command was relatively new then. Such a divorce case, she was told then, would bring odium on the new government.
Based on this appeal, she instructed her lawyer (late) Chief Gani Fawehinmi to withdraw the divorce suit. According to her in appreciation of what (late) Murtala Muhammed and late M. D. Yusuf did for her in the course of her troublesome marriage with Obasanjo.
But to her surprise, she heard that her husband went to court to get a divorce against her. She said, “I was never served any summons. I should at least be a party in my own case.”
Stories said he rigged the divorce. They said he (Obasanjo) secretly filed for a divorce. “The case was never listed. I did not file any affidavit because no court brought any suit to my notice,” she said.
When Obasanjo became Head of State in 1976, after the assassination of Murtala Muhammed, he actually did not have an official First Lady, but it was Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo that represented him at some international occasions and functions like when she was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1979.
It was she, Oluremi and her children that were with him on October 1, 1979 when he (Obasanjo) handed over power to former President Shehu Shagari.
She was also beside him when he was pulled out of the Army and at Owu Baptist Church, Abeokuta, Ogun State, where a thanksgiving and reception was organized for him after handing over power to Shagari.
According to her, “After the ceremony, I told my husband that I had risen to the top with him by the grace of God. Now, I was giving him a free rein to misbehave with his mistresses, as I would not stay with him at Abeokuta. He begged me earnestly not to leave him. He said he had not finished his house at Victoria Island, Lagos, wondering where I would stay,” she wrote.
Certainly, all those are not signs of a wife that was divorced.
Again when she got tired of the government flat she was staying at Lawrence Road, Ikoyi, she went to him for another accommodation, and he (Obasanjo) gave her one of his two bungalows in GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, where she still resides up till date.
Even the land on which she established a poultry farm business on Aiyetoro Road, Abeokuta, was given to her by her supposedly divorced husband.
Although, according to her, their relationship was topsy-turvy, they were still seeing each other all the same.
Hear her, “One morning at about 7 o’clock, while I was dressing up, preparatory to taking the children to school, my daughter, Enitan walked into the room, announcing, ‘Mummy, one man wants to see you.’ As I turned, wondering who the man was early in the morning, I saw Obasanjo strolling in behind her. Shaking his head, he said, ‘So, I am one man. I am one man now.’ He was obviously pained that his daughter did not recognize him. He carried her and asked after the children. He looked around the premises and left. Soon after, he started visiting frequently. He was behaving like a good person and our love rekindled. In no time, he put me in the family way. The product of that liaison is Damilola Obasanjo, who was born in 1982.” She is the sixth and the last child Oluremi would have for the retired General. And this is the same woman he claimed he divorced in 1975.
If the former president had divorced his wife, Oluremi as he claimed, why did he allocate to her a self-contained apartment in his Ota Farm house as she claimed in her book?
Again, why did he bring (late) Stella to Oduduwa Crescent, GRA, Ikeja residence of Oluremi to beg her, and told both to settle their differences.
Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo also claimed that sometime in 1985, the former president invited her to his Ota Farm house, where she met other women including late Stella, Gold Oruh, Mabel, Titi and Taiwo Obasanjo. In her words, “Then, he went straight into the subject of the day. Ladies, I want to introduce my wife to you. I thought it was time I did because I would want the hierarchy to be properly recognised. This is my wife, he said motioning to me (Oluremi).”
When late General Sani Abacha arrested the former president and put him in police guest house in Ikeja, in 1995, the first person he sent a message to that he was hungry was the supposedly divorced wife, Oluremi Obasanjo and she brought him fresh fish and plantain.
Throughout his incarceration at Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, and later Jos Prison, Oluremi was one of those that was paying him regular visits and he was sending her on errands around the country.
Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo was also there to welcome him when he was released from jail by General Abdulsalami Abubakar in 1998. She was also one of the family members he called to inform of his going into politics in 1998. He also invited her and her children during the thanksgiving after he was sworn in as president for the second time in 1999.
While in office as the president he was still referring some issues to her.
Hear the woman on this, “Obasanjo is complex and a master of the art of deception. While parading Stella as the First Lady, he often referred researchers to me when he needed important details of his life to be supplied. When his biography was being written, he directed the biographer to me. When he resigned at Aso Villa, his senior assistant on political affairs, Dr. Gbolade Osinowo, sent people who said they were preparing some electronic data on him to me to supply information on Obasanjo.”
All of these certainly did not indicate that the former president actually in the true sense legally and officially divorced his first wife as he claimed in his new book.
– TOLANI ABATTI