ENCOMIUM Weekly also interviewed his wife and some of his friends and aides…
We congratulate you on your husband’s 50th birthday.
Thank you very much.
How has it been since you got married to him?
I feel very happy and indeed honoured to have him as my husband. This is because he is kindhearted, nice and warm towards people. He is very loyal to his friends. He is someone that is quite dependable. He is a friend and a passionate father. He is very dedicated and passionate about his children.
Did you ever envisage that the man you married then would turn out to be as prominent as he is today?
I will be honest with you, I never thought I would be married to a muslim, because of my past experience as someone from a muslim home. I had some experiences that I didn’t really like. But when I came across him, I had a very positive impression about Islam generally.
Were you not a muslim then?
I was born a muslim but I was never practicing it. I was practicing Christianity with my mother until I got married to him and I willingly changed after seeing the qualities of a good muslim in him. He did not force me to change. I deliberately changed and got converted to Islam by myself. This was when he was in the university.
I saw that he was very a kindhearted and very intelligent muslim which I really liked about him. But I never knew God was going to take him to this great height. We give thanks and glory to God.
But I have always known that he is someone that is very hard working and committed to anything he is doing. He has always had those qualities that are endeared towards greatness.
Despite all these good qualities of him that you have mentioned, there must be something about him that you don’t really like but you are tolerating. What is it?
Definitely, yes. We are all not perfect. We’ve been together now for almost 30 years, that is both before and after marriage. We’ve been married for 23 years now. Like I said, there is no perfect human being. He has his own flaws too.
He is just being human. But when you have 80 percent good qualities and 20 percent flaw that is okay. What then do you want?
What are those 20 percent flaws that he has?
He is very impatient, that is his major flaw. He thinks you are trying to slow him down. For instance, we hardly go to parties together because 10 minutes, he is ready to go but I want to take time to look good before going out. But in all, he is a very nice and generous person.
He was not a politician when you married him. But he later went into politics. Did you like it when he went into politics?
I will be honest with you, I never wanted him to go into politics. I didn’t like it at all. I see politicians as people who are not straight forward. From inception, I actually tried to discourage him. I didn’t mind when he was into politics as a student at the university but national politics, I felt it was not really worth it.
I didn’t support him initially going into full partisan politics. But you see someone like him that is passionate about people around him you have to surrender. The belief that because God has blessed him and he must touch the lives of people too, then you don’t have a choice than to allow him to go into full time politics. All I did was just to pray for him as he is moving on.
Your husband is a staunch muslim who is at liberty to marry more than one wife. But he has stuck to you alone for 23 years. What do you think is responsible for this?
Before I got married to him, that was one of the things I cleared with him. He showed the portion concerning marrying more than one wife in the Holy Book. It was written there that you must be just and fair to all the wives. The Holy Book went further to say that as a human being, it is impossible to be just and fair to two human beings.
In other words, the Quaran is telling you not to do it. But some other people will interpret it to suit their purposes. But from inception he opened up to me. Because I told him I can’t afford to share you with someone else.
I told him I don’t want a polygamous setting because of what I went through while growing up. So, we clarified that area before we got married. He made it clear to me too that he does not want it too.
As a matter of fact, he was the first person to do legal marriage in his family. Thank God he kept his words. I don’t pray it happened because I dread polygamy because I don’t want my family to be divided. We give all thanks to God.
And you do not nurse any fear that being a politician surrounded by many women, he could be tempted to marry one of them?
Definitely, he is a man of so many women. A lot of women admire him. But I know that he is mine and mine alone. So, there is no cause for alarm. Of course, the temptation will be there, because they will rally around him. But having known that there is nothing else that can happen, you just leave them and keep them at arm’s length.
I know for sure that he is somebody that has identified what he wanted and he is not being distracted about it.
So, what do you wish him on his 50th birthday?
I have prayed for him and I will continue to pray for him for wisdom to deal with human beings. I pray that he will never meet any human being that will do him harm. I pray that God grants him longevity. He will continue to enjoy the goodness of God in good health. Mercy of Almighty God will continue to abide with him.
He will grow from strength to strength. His hereafter will be greater. All his wishes shall come into reality. He shall live a life of fulfillment. His children shall be greater than him.
- TOLANI ABATTI