FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo, in paying tribute to his late wife, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo in his book, My Watch, alleged that she had to contend with the violent nature of his divorced wife, Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo.
According to the former president, his late wife handled four issues which included ‘Constant harassment at home through telephone calls and name calling and physical and violent confrontation in the streets by my divorced wife.”
Although the former president did not mention the name of the divorced wife but for those who read the first wife, Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo’s book, Bitter-Sweet, will know he was referring to her.
The question many are wont to ask is, who is more violent between Obasanjo and his so-called divorced wife, going by the woman’s account in her book.
Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo, in her book, Bitter-Sweet My Life with Obasanjo, mentioned several instances in the course of their tempestuous life together as husband and wife where the former president gave her thorough bashing.
In fact, she referred to him, “As a violent and unrepentant wife basher.”
In her account from the book, her first experience of wife bashing from her supposed husband and protector started in October 1968. She was heavily pregnant with their second child, Busola. They were residing in Ibadan, Oyo State. Their nanny, Kemi had informed her that Obasanjo had welcomed a lady with kisses to their matrimonial home and took her upstairs when she went out. She challenged him on that and got several slaps in response.
Again, sometime in 1973, she eavesdropped on a telephone conversation between Obasanjo and one Mrs. Mowo Sofowora, a lace merchant and married woman, who was dating her husband. While her husband was using the telephone upstairs, she was on the extension downstairs intercepting their conversation when the woman complained she was having a headache.
Hear her, “They had spoken for about 30 minutes when she said she was having a headache. I had heard enough so, I cut in: It’s that headache that will kill you, shameless married woman dating a younger man.”
“On hearing my voice, Obasanjo charged downstairs to beat me and we had one of the many fights that had come to define our marriage.”
Most of the beatings she received from her husband always had something with his philandering.
In another instance, the woman had visited her husband in London during one of his military trainings abroad and stumbled on a letter written by one Mrs. Labo Salako, a woman she and her husband accommodated at their Ikoyi, Lagos residence, after she lost her husband in a motor accident. The woman was having an intimate romantic affair with Obasanjo and had written, advising him to divorce his wife, Oluremi. She got hold of the letter and made photocopies of it and gave them to many people when she came back to Nigeria.
Both Obasanjo and Mrs. Salako got to know that she (Oluremi) had made copies of the letter and gave them to many people. Hell was let loose on her. As she was being verbally attacked by Mrs. Salako on telephone. Obasanjo came in and gave her a thorough bashing of her life.
According to her, “When I saw him go for a knife, I ran out of the house. He pursued me. I ran across the road to the house there. Gbenga, my son, who was trailing me, was nearly hit by a car. My husband picked him and only returned home when he could not locate me in the house I was hiding.”
This happened sometime in January 1975 and she never returned to that Ikoyi, Lagos residence until August 5, 1975, when she was invited by her husband and was informed that her fifth child, Dayo, had died.
She was in their Ikoyi, Lagos residence again taking care of her remaining four children. But this did not last more than few days. Obasanjo told her to leave and that she should not use the excuse of her daughter’s death to come back into the house. When she told him to allow her take good care of her children to avoid another untimely death, she got two slaps in response and a hot chase as she ran down the stairs in her pregnant state.
She was in her pyjamas and was only able to change into a proper dress the next day before leaving the house again.
She later got to know that she was chased out of the house that night because Mrs. Mowo Sofowora, Obasanjo’s mistress was coming there to sleep over. Even when Obasanjo became the head of state, that did not slow him down or curb his wife bashing tendencies.
The woman recalled another incident when she visited him at Dodan Barracks (seat of government) to discuss the welfare of the children. She said, “The moment I returned to Dodan Barracks, Obasanjo knew I was up to a mischief. He welcomed me with slaps. As he was beating me, I pounced on the woman. As he beat me, I sank my teeth into the woman’s breast. She screamed, calling me names and pleading for deliverance. Obasanjo rained more slaps on me.
Again, in 1982, when Obasanjo had left office as head of state, she, in company of a friend visited him at his Ota Farm abode.
Taiwo Obasanjo (now Martins), one of Obasanjo’s wives living with him in the farm then challenged them on what they were doing there (at their sitting room). While her friend accused Taiwo for lacking courtesy and not recognizing Mama Iyabo, she (Oluremi) gave Taiwo a slap.
Taiwo burst into tears and reported to Obasanjo who was somewhere else in the farm. Obasanjo came and not only tongue lashed her (Remi) for slapping his wife, he also slapped her back.
Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo said the former president did not only physically abuse her but also psychologically and economically. She recalled how he blocked her getting loan from UBA to do her import business and how he reported late M.K.O Abiola, who connected her to UBA for the loan, to Alake of Egbaland, late Oba Oyepade Lipede, for interfering in is marital affairs. Late M.K.O Abiola, she said had to back out when Obasanjo was unrelenting in his efforts to make sure he did not help her to secure the much needed bank loan.
Even the children of the former president are so much elated about their academic achievements (eight of his 21 children are Ph.D holders and four of them are Oluremi’s children) were, according to the woman abandoned by him at a time. She said, ‘He stopped taking care of the children, probably thinking I had a lot of money. He only sent N400 a month. Iyabo and Busola were at Queen’s College, Lagos; Segun was at King’s College. I was torn between raising my children and running the farm. Sometime in 1981, Gbenga and Enitan were due to return to school at Corona, after the long break. When the school fees were not forthcoming from their father, I went to late Simbiat Abiola for assistance, she prayed that God would help. I later sold off my gold bangles to Alhaja Abdulrazaq, a jeweler, to raise the fees.”
Of course, Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo could be said to be guilty of some of the allegations leveled against her by Chief Obasanjo in his book, My Watch, as she herself recounted in her book, Bitter-Sweet.
She wrote in her book that she and late Stella Obasanjo used to engage in telephone battles. According to her, “She would call to abuse me and I would reply to taunt her. Two days after I gave birth to my last born in 1982, I phoned to tell Stella the news; she told me I was delirious.
“Were, were (mad person), she screamed, you see that you have really gone mad. You are beginning to imagine things. How can you be pregnant, much less have a baby for Obasanjo? I’ve told you, he’s mine for good.”
“It is you that is mad, not me oh. I know the truth hurts but I’ve told you the latest development,” she said.
In 1984, Obasanjo took Stella to her at her Oduduwa Crescent, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos residence, for reconciliation.
This is what she (Remi) told them, “Both of you are not well. I am busy with something important, my niece’s wedding and you come here to disturb me. Get out of my house.”
And when Obasanjo left the two of them alone to resolve their differences, hear what she told Stella, “If I have to choose between Obasanjo and money, I would take the money because he is useless. If he is a good man, I will not leave him for you. I had taken the better part of him. If he dies tomorrow, I would give you his stomach, which is full of water. But I will keep his arms and legs as they were useful when I knew him. I wish you good luck.”
Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo also recounted how she dealt with Mrs. Mowo Sofowora, the lace merchant, who was unabashedly having a rollicking love affair with her husband despite being married. “I met Mowo in flesh in a fortuitous manner. I was pregnant with Dayo and had gone to Unity Hospital, to see my doctor. I had been kicked out of the house at that point and while awaiting the doctor, I overheard a nurse announcing that one Mrs. Obasanjo was coming to the hospital with her sick children. I sat up. Lo and behold, she soon appeared with Busola and Segun, my children. I removed my head-tie, tied it around my waist to hold my wrapped in place and pounced on her.
“Mowo, oko bi o gba, o le gba omo mi,” I screamed. Meaning, ‘You may snatch my husband you cannot snatch my kids. I slapped and punched her. It was a spectacle. The hospital was turned upside down. I ran after the car that brought her, smashed the side glass. Finally, Dr. Charles Williams, the hospital director, calmed me down and arranged for Mowo to leave.”
Who then is more violent between the two time president and his first and only legal wife, Mrs. Oluremi Obasanjo going by their account in their memoirs?
We think you the readers are the best judges.
– TOLANI ABATTI