OTUNBA Iyabo Martins-Kuye is the wife of Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye, the former Minister of Finance and later Commerce and Industry. The mother of three children will be joining the septuagenarian club on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
The successful businesswoman told ENCOMIUM Weekly in this exclusive interview the story of her life.
How does it feel turning 70?
Age is a number. I don’t feel it. I am, however, happy for what I have been able to achieve at 70. My children are there, three of them, two males and one female. They are all doing well and have been a great source of joy to me. I also have my grandchildren who are also doing well in their studies. Above all these, I have the support of my ever caring husband. What else can one ask God for at 70? Except to continue to praise Him.
Certainly, there must be some physical challenges for a 70 year old person. What has been your physical challenge?
I agree with you that one will have some physical challenge at 70. Even at 50, 60, there are physical challenges. But how one manages such challenges is what will determine his or her longevity.
I know it is not possible for me to do a marathon race now. I also know I can’t dance for long hours now. But my lifestyle has changed generally, even before I turned 70. I now eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water and drink moderately. I also do a lot of exercise too.
Are there things you were doing before that you can no longer do because of your age?
Of course, I can’t do a regular job of 8 a.m to 5 p.m anymore. I can’t go to parties like before.
You are looking younger than 70. What is the secret?
These days, most women who could afford it try to look better than their age. They go to spa and gyms. They eat healthy and avoid issues that will give them hypertension or heart attack. I am in that category. I am at peace with myself.
What was growing up like for you?
I am from a very humble background. My parents were not rich at all but they could afford to send me to secondary school level. I attended a secretarial training school here in Nigeria. I furthered my secretarial studies at Pitman Training Centre, London for further qualifications.
What year was this?
- I came back in 1973. I started work with Henry Toffman, owned by Mr. Awofisayo. The company was within The Punch
- Newspapers (Onipetesi, Ikeja). From there, I moved to many other companies until I retired from paid employment to
- start my own business.
What type of business did you go into?
Buying and selling of clothing materials.
What year was this?
Can you share with us your marital life?
I was married and widowed and I remarried. I have three children. Two men and a woman. You can’t call them boys and a girl anymore.
When would you consider as the happiest moment of your life so far?
Several, that I am grateful to God for. Was it when I had my first child? Or my first grandchild? Or different wonders that God has done in my life and in the lives of my children?
Of all these happy moments, there must be one or two that gave you so much joy.
Let me see, maybe when I was appreciated by my in-laws, my husband’s people and they honoured me with Otunba Fesojoye of Ijebuland by the Paramount King of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, the Awujale of Ijebuland in November 2006. Again in May 2014, alongside my husband, I was also installed as Yeye Asiwaju of Ago Iwoye by His Royal Highness, Oba Abdul-Razaq Adesina Adenugba, the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye. These are certainly happy moments that one will cherish throughout life. These are people who hold my husband in high esteem and for them to extend it to me is a thing of great joy.
Do you want to share with us how you met your husband, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye?
We’ve known each other for long. We used to be childhood sweethearts. Later, we went our separate ways and met again through the grace of God.
Where was this?
Here in Lagos. He was working as one of the managers of Lever Brothers (now Unilever) and I was working with Nigeria Tobacco Company (NTC).
When would you consider the saddest moment of your life?
As one has happy moment, you also have moment that draws you back. Maybe we shouldn’t remember the sad moments. Let us just remember the good ones.
You attend a lot of parties, why?
My husband and I have a very rich social life, there is no doubt about that. Aside being a businessman, he is also a well known politician, a two-time Minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am a businesswoman who has friends everywhere. So, many of the parties are obligations to our friends. We need to honour our friends. What is it they are serving at the party that one cannot afford in his or her home?
Most of these friends have also attended your own party at one time or the other, so you are obliged to attend theirs too.
Talking about friends, what does friendship mean to you?
Friendship means you have to take your friends for who they are. If you can’t really get along, for instance with the envious ones, the best thing is to part ways.
Are there some of your friends that you have been friends since your adulthood?
I have friends of over 40 years. The likes of Iyabo Irekpona and Bunmi Sofola. Other good friends are Patricia Arawore, Funmi Amoje, Adunni Osude, Lola Dada, Patricia Agbakwu and Irene Johnson.
I also have older friends like Chief (Mrs.) Fowora and Alhaja Osinusi. There are lots more but we will just leave the list as it is.
What is it like to be married to a prominent politician like your husband?
My husband is not only a prominent politician but an astute one. Through him I have learnt to accommodate a whole lot of people because there are things that he does atimes that I wonder if I could accommodate people to that extent. But I have been able to learn a lot from him. How deep he is, how caring he is for his people. His caring nature has certainly rubbed off on me. I have been able to care more for people because I respect what he does all of the time for his people.
Will you say you are fulfilled at 70?
Certainly. That is why I am asking all my friends to come and share the joyful occasion with me.
Are there no things you still want God to do for you?
Yes, there is o. I want God to continue to give me good health to be able to reciprocate all the good gestures I have received from people.
– TOLANI ABATTI