HON. Adeniyi Oyemade, one time Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Lagos State and two-time member of Lagos House of Assembly, turned 60 on Monday, August 10, 2015.
The astute politician cum businessman, who sits atop King Solomon Mines marked the golden age anniversary with his family, friends and well wishers at his Banana Island, Lagos residence.
Though, he termed the birthday celebration a low profile one there was more than enough to eat and drink.
Few days after the celebration, he spoke to ENCOMIUM Weekly, on the joy of turning 60.
How do you feel turning 60?
To God be the glory, 60 is a milestone in one’s life. After 60, you should always be grateful to God for granting you the additional years. It is by His grace that one will be able to add another 20 years, at most 30 years. Certainly, not another 60 years.
So, the next line of thought and actions is to plan for your salvation, attitude, ways and character towards your Maker should now be your priority. Let me just say I thank God for everything.
What would you say you are grateful to God for turning 60?
I am not only grateful to Him. I am thanking Him, worshipping Him, praising Him, adoring Him, all positive adjectives that I can use to show my appreciation to Him for allowing me to reach the golden age, because it is Him and His grace over me in the last 60 years that allowed me to hit 60. He is all in all in my life.
Are there things you can no longer do at 60?
I don’t think so. Except of course, those pranks and escapades in our younger days. Those things we used to do just to show you belong. I have since dropped such things. The moment one is 40, there are certain things you should not be doing anymore. Those things that will not promote you as a good husband, father and responsible citizen of your country should be dropped. But when you talk of physical and mental capabilities to do what I have been doing before, I still have that. I thank God for that.
When would you say was the best moment of your 60 years?
Monday, August 10, 2015 (the day he turned 60). As early as 12 midnight, I started receiving congratulatory messages on Whatsapp, SMS, Facebook on my 60th birthday. That was the happiest time of my life. That night I couldn’t sleep until 12 a.m. It was a vigil of sort. The moment it was 12 a.m, I knelt down to praise and pray to God. Because I know that once I attain 60, God is ready to give me more years till I turn 90. Once I am 90, the rest is yearly contract with my God.
At the end of another year, I will ask God, do you still want me to spend another year.
Are there things you are doing to make sure you live to be 90?
A lot of things. My eating habit has changed. My drinking has also changed. After 6 p.m, I don’t take any solid food anymore. I have reduced my drinking drastically. I am now a social drinker and it is only champagne.
Has your social life also changed?
A lot. My body is no longer reacting positively to moving from one social gathering to the other. Second, as a father, I want to show my children a good example of how to be a responsible parent. Your children seeing you attending one party or the other certainly, will not take you serious as a responsible father.
Third, moving from one party to the other from Friday to Sunday, will affect your plan for yourself and your family. What I do most now is to get home by 6 p.m, take my dinner after which I go into my study to read particularly my Bible.
Are you saying you’ve now become a born again than a socialite that many knew you to be?
If you say that.
Is there a particular experience that has made you more religious now?
Life is full of ups and downs. It is not a bed of roses. There is no way you wouldn’t have ifs and buts in your life. The more experience you gain, the more adjustments you make. Yes, it is true I was a socialite. Once I leave home on Thursday, I don’t come back until Friday. What kind of life is that? Yes, I was running a eatery and restaurant, but what kind of business will make you not go home to sleep? What kind of business is that? I stopped living that type of lifestyle the moment I turned 50.
As I said, there were things you were doing in your 30s, 40s, but the moment you turn 50 and you don’t stop them, then your body will stop them for you. As at that time, you may not be in control of the situation again. So, don’t wait till the day your body can no longer take your excesses. Control them by yourself.
Whether you like it or not, God will evaluate how you used the time He has given you. If you are spending it recklessly, He will take you away quickly. But if you are spending it the way He asked you, you will attain your destiny.
It is by the grace of God and His mercy that every moment of your life, you shouldn’t depart from praising His name and worshipping Him. That is what I am doing right now.
When would you consider the happiest moment of your life?
Every day. I am always happy when I look at my family. I have my children who are doing very well. I have my wife, who is very industrious. She is doing fine. She has been there for me every time I am looking out for this or that. Those are things that make one happy.
When would you consider your saddest moment?
Before I turned 60, I had a brief illness. It was not that much, but it made me sad because it was afowofa (self-inflicted).
What is this afowofa (self-inflicted)?
Oh, if at this stage of my life, I don’t know when to stop when it comes to alcohol then I am in trouble. That is what happened to me. I took about two glasses of wine and it landed me in the hospital. It was like waoh! Just two glasses for someone that could take five to six bottles!
For how long were you in the hospital?
Oh, just two days.
When was this?
Just two or three weeks to my 60th birthday. That was the reason I kept vigil few minutes to my 60th birthday. The moment I turned 60, I told the devil, you are a liar.
What lesson would you say your 60 years has taught you?
Patience, a lot of patience. Now, I do a lot of deep thinking before arriving at a decision. Those who say experience is the best teacher are certainly right. My experiences taught me a lot of lessons. One of such lessons is that you should be very close to your God.
Two, don’t compare your life with any other person. Work at your pace but have a focus.
You spoke glowingly about your wife, where and how did you meet her?
I met her when she was working at Federal Ministry, Old Secretariat in Lagos. That was when I was in the world. I met her through a friend who was a director in the ministry. Since that time she has been a dedicated and hard working woman. She has been in business since then. Though she was working in the ministry, she was already in business with her mom.
What would you say was the attraction?
I saw a light complexioned, slim and tall lady, which was what I was looking for in a woman then. But after meeting and relating with her, I saw a frank and blunt lady. She is not diplomatic at all. Let me just say that. Despite this, she has been a rock that one can depend on. She is someone you can count on any day, any time. With the children, she is superb.
How many children has the marriage been blessed with?
Two the twins.
Sam and Sarah?
Yes, Sam and Sarah.
Is she your only wife?
I had a first marriage. That was a long time ago. My first daughter is about 34 years old right now. People believe that once you have children with another woman you are still married to her. Once you are out of a marriage, you are out of it.
So, there was one marriage before the present one?
Yes, there was one.
Two, a boy and a girl just like Sam and Sarah. That is why I said people always jump into wrong conclusions the moment they hear some stories. That is why I tried as much as possible to keep my private life from the public glare and you the press.
You are a public person. As a public person, your private life becomes a public issue. People will probe into your private life.
They will, I know that but that is for those who are doing something wrong. I have not done anything wrong. The fact that I am a public person does not mean all my private life should be in the public. People can be funny. They will hear something and give it their own meaning and interpretation.
Was there a third marriage?
No, there was no third marriage.
But there is a third woman?
No, there is no third woman. People always mix issues. I am categorically saying it now. I was never married to Kikelomo (Oyemade), the lady who operates Akodo Resort. We were just business acquaintances.
Nothing beyond that?
I don’t have any secret anywhere. There is nobody in Akodo. The day I turned 60, I told my wife to ask me anything now, I will tell you the truth. No more suspicion, no more gossip because those are the things that wreck marriages. Those are things that bring mistrust between a couple. Those are things that I am not into anymore.
For someone who has been a two-term member of Lagos House of Assembly and a commissioner in the state, what will you say you like about politics?
Everything about politics. The beauty, the intrigues, the cunning, the strategizing, the caucuses, meetings. Never a dull moment. If you are in politics, you are at alert 24 hours or else you are down and out.
What is it that you don’t like about politics?
I like everything about politics. Politics is like the saying goes, ‘If you don’t like heat, don’t move near the kitchen.’ If you are in there and you don’t like what are seeing or getting, then get out of it.
What else do you want God to do for you?
I have said it. I want to live to be 90 in good health, God blessings, happiness and surrounded by my family.
– TOLANI ABATTI