I saw something that has been trending online this morning and thought I should share it with you. Isa Gusau, a Special Adviser on Communications and Strategy to the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima wrote this piece from his base in Abuja about an experience he had some days ago with Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the senator representing Lagos Central.
In a time where there are reports of misbehavior and necessary pride and arrogance exhibited among celebrities in the way they relate to people who they consider not to be on their cadre, this story comes as quite a surprise.
This is what he had to say:
“While in Lagos four days ago, I saw and monitored something really strange in Senator Oluremi Tinubu, wife of National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“But before going into that Wednesday, November 25, 2015 experience, let me share that I hail from Zamfara State even though passionately working in Borno State. I’m a young journalist by education and profession, have practiced in the north and the southern parts of Nigeria for a major Newspaper. I’m so proud of my profession. Given my kind of job, I have met different categories of persons from those at the bottom to those at the top whether as news makers, news sources, witnesses or for social and other human interactions.
“For the purpose of this small piece, I want to make reference to my interactions with VIPs, the “Ogas at the top”. Some times, VIPs or important personalities as one may choose to call them, invite journalists to their homes to grant interviews or hold press briefings while in not too often cases, the journalists themselves request for interviews at homes of VIPs or to source information that can make or add up to major news items. These mostly happen during weekends, outside working hours or when VIPs want to avoid office interferences.
“Now, in the course of meeting these VIPs, I had at different times come across their wives too. One common feature in the wives of many VIPs is their display of authority. One minute contact with them tells you they own the house because as they step out, everyone around feels uneasy. Some, if not many wives of VIPs represent fear and danger. They are regarded as angels of death by domestic helps i.e. drivers, cooks, gardeners, cleaners and aides to the boss himself. Visitors tend to avoid wives of VIPs except certain class of visitors that are very well-known to the VIPs’ wives. Many times, wives of VIPs as I have seen them, are emperors. They harass aides and house helps with commands that are designed to make aides develop running stomach. They are feared so much that house helps celebrate when they travel or stay out for long. However, I have also come across some very humble and hospitable wives of VIPs. One of them is the wife of former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Maina Waziri. That woman is completely humble and kind from my point of view. I met her three times: in 2006, 2007 and 2010. But three days ago, I saw something entirely different in another VIP’s wife.
“On return to Lagos last Wednesday, after traveling to Ikenne for the funeral of H.I.D Awolowo earlier in the day, six Governors, Kashim Shettima of Borno, Yari of Zamfara, Tambuwal of Sokoto and their colleagues from Jigawa, Kebbi and Cross River followed national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to his residence at Bourdillon road in Ikoyi. I was there as an aide to Governor Shettima without knowing I would be compelled to write this piece.
“Soon after the bus conveying the dignitaries arrived Asiwaju’s residence, I saw Senator Oluremi Tinubu rushing out of the bus, walking fast almost with so much focus, it was clear she had something in mind. She walked ahead of her husband and all the Governors. She was wearing a light blue wrapper with pictures of the late H.I.D Awolowo which was worn by majority of sympathizers at the funeral. It was ‘Ashiobi’ (ceremonial uniform, usually for one occasion). Asiwaju followed up and stepped into the house alongside the six Governors.
While the Governors went into an inner parlor beyond the main and bigger living room, I saw Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu went straight to the dining area located by the left side on entering the main living room. Without even changing into normal dress, away from the ‘Ashiobi’, the first thing she did was to start cleaning dishes, I watched her clean over ten dishes without any ‘ajebota-like-attitude’. Then, she started re-arranging food items set by aides on the dining table. I took exceptional notice of how she was working with house helps, I saw so much willingness, freedom and excitement on the faces of those helps. I noticed that whenever she wanted to ask them to do anything at all, she would start by saying, ‘jowo’ – the Yoruba way of saying ‘please’ and after they did anything she asked them to do, she repeatedly and naturally said, ‘O se’ meaning ‘thank you’.
“She effectively combined humility, politeness and efficiency in managing her home. In less than five minutes of her arrival, Oluremi had set the table. One Governor I wouldn’t mention, sneaked onto the dining table very quickly. Asiwaju sighted him and jokingly said, “Your Excellencies, one Governor is cheating all of us on the dining table”. The Governors happily and I say, so freely, walked to the dining area onto the waiting cheerfulness of Mrs. Tinubu who practically left no one in doubt that she was very excited to serve. She co-ordinated the lunch with so much passion like you would think of a typical, very dedicated and polite Nigerian woman that manages her own restaurant and doing is everything to satisfy customers.
“My initial thought was that Mrs. Tinubu was being dutiful to her husband’s special guests but then I saw her carry about four used glasses. Do you know who used those glasses she picked? She actually picked them from the visitors’ waiting parlour which was by the right after a security scanner and those glasses were used by security aides to Governors. She insisted on picking the glasses even when the security aides were hesitant. Importantly, one could see that she was not faking her actions, she was unconsciously being herself.
For almost two hours, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu walked around doing things herself and cheerfully directing her aides to meet the needs of guests. Oluremi was everywhere including outside asking if food was served drivers and police escorts.
“I saw her around 2:55pm carrying a tray with tea cups and saucers. She went into an inner parlour with the tray. She must have gone to serve the Governors and her husband. I noticed also that she took special interest in serving and interacting with a Senator from Borno State who was there with the Governor. Oluremi was obviously passionate about her colleague in the Senate.
“After she had served tea, I spotted her talking to one of her house helps asking him to serve everyone another round of drinks. As she gave them tasks, I could see that the workers were happy with her. Some of them were even teasing her. She was behaving like a mother in the midst of her loving adult children on a happy day. The interaction between Oluremi and her aides was something so uniquely interesting. While still admiring Oluremi’s hospitality that Wednesday, a senior aide to Governor Shettima told me about his previous encounter with the former Lagos first lady and wife to one of Nigeria’s most influential politicians, on Saturday, February 8, 2014.
“‘If you remember, we came here with Oga (Governor Shettima) in 2014, in the build up to the 2015 elections when Asiwaju invited Oga here for a meeting. We (aides to the Governor) were seated here at the parlor and to our surprise, she (Oluremi Tinubu) came and personally served each of us with refreshments. We were shocked given the fact that her husband was actually the bigger boss as leader of the APC which is the party of our boss who was going for second term election. That day we came, her messengers were playing with her and she was so free with them. The woman is just down to earth,’ he said to me.
“As I ran through the qualities in Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu, I concluded that Asiwaju’s great sense of judgment transcends politics because it takes so much wisdom for a man not only to marry a good woman but for the same man to be rich and powerful, yet have his wife retain her humility and “Africanness” even in the midst of wealth, power and influence that is known to have ruined many.”