A former wife of former President Olusegun Obasanjo , Taiwo , in this interview with TUNDE AJAJA , gives an update on her son , who is said to be missing
It’ s been about five months since your son allegedly left his matrimonial home , have you heard from him since then ?
Fortunately, there is good news . I have not seen him one- on- one but he called me and he assured me that he was okay . I asked where he was but he didn’ t tell me , which shows that he ’ s still in hiding. At the moment , he ’ s not in Abekouta where he ’ s supposed to be; he ’ s not at his place of work in his father ’ s company , and that means he ’ s still hiding himself from his wife . I’ m his biological mother and we are not quarrelling , so he has no reason to stay away from me but for the issues with his wife .
When did he call you?
He spoke to me before Easter to greet me for the season . I was very happy and that was part of the Easter gift God gave me . You can imagine how it feels for a mother not to know the whereabouts of her only son, so I had been very worried and it has been very traumatic for me . I asked him why he was not making himself available and he said it was because everyone was insisting that he should resolve the issues with his wife . But he said he could not patch it up and he ’ s not ready to go on with the marriage . He said that was his final decision . I told him he didn’ t need to hide, but he said he had made his point known . I’ ve written to the police ; his wife , Tope ; and I’ ve written to her place of work that they should appeal to his wife to let my son be. She ’ s the one he ’ s running from . My son, Olujonwo , must have picked that attitude from me because when I’ m overwhelmed by anything, I detach myself from that situation. That was why I excused myself from my marriage to his father when I was overwhelmed with what was happening between us . I opted out; he didn’ t drive me away . What you cannot manage can destroy you , so when he saw that he was about to be destroyed, he ran away .
Now that he has spoken to you and he said he was fine, when is he coming back home ?
The thing now is that I want to appeal to Tope to please remove the siege around my son. If he wants to continue with the marriage , it should be on his terms , and if my son wants divorce, they should allow him to file for divorce, because that is why he ’ s still in hiding .
Who is stopping him from taking that decision ?
I believe it ’ s the father ; Chief Olusegun Obasanjo . I believe so . Daddy Obasanjo can stop all this nonsense from this girl in the twinkling of an eye , but what I hear is that the father is the one pressurising him to stay in the marriage . He can caution this girl because he ’ s a man that people defer to and people fear him a lot . But he ’ s the one encouraging this nonsense from this girl .
How can a man not be able to walk freely in his own country because of marriage ?
Instead , he had to go into hiding . It ’ s God and Daddy Obj that can help. By African standard and Yoruba culture , a woman submits to the husband , not the other way round , and it ’ s biblical that a wife should submit herself . I don’ t know why his father doesn ’ t want to intervene, and if my son says he wants divorce, he should be allowed . My son told me he was tired of the marriage , and if he is, there is nothing harmful or criminal about it if he says he wants to opt out. He won ’ t be the first . One of the highly respected men in Africa and in the world , late Nelson Mandela, divorced his wife when he came out of prison . I’ m sure people would have pleaded with him , because the woman was also well known but he divorced her and remarried respectably . Also , Prince Charles in the United Kingdom divorced Diana . So , it happens and it ’ s not criminal . Why should my son ’ s father be forcing him to stay in a marriage , when no woman can force herself on him (Obasanjo ). Maybe he feels it would be disparaging to his status , but it ’ s not criminal . The two families should allow a peaceful divorce and separation so my son could stop hiding . There is nothing shameful in it . It ’ s baffling to me that my son ’ s wife and her mother joined forces together on this . I’ ve alerted the Ministry of Justice and they have replied me , saying the police should handle it . You see , his case reminds me of the girl that is still in the custody of Boko Haram . You know how I feel about my son that wasn’ t abducted but went voluntarily , not to talk of a child that was kidnapped .
Does it mean he would not come back until he ’ s allowed to divorce his wife ?
That is why I ’ m saying the whole world should help me appeal to Chief Obasanjo . I don’ t know where my son is . I’ m just using this medium to call on people , especially fathers and mothers , to help me appeal to Chief Obasanjo not to allow this girl to retain a siege around my son on account of marriage . He has said he doesn ’ t want to continue with the marriage and that should be respected. They should allow the two of them to go their separate ways .
What is Chief Obasanjo ’ s interest for him to insist that they should not divorce?
Have you spoken to Chief Obasanjo between then and now ?
I haven’ t. I ’ m talking because I’ m a mother and because the issue is no more a family matter.
What about the wife’ s father; have you met him on the issue?
I have , but I don’ t want to drag him into this because he ’ s a good man . Daddy Obj is the one causing problem in my son ’ s marriage , by insisting that they should remain married . My son should be allowed and supported to peacefully divorce himself from Tope Adebutu without being subjected to various forms of affliction , humiliation , fear , trauma and threat by his biological father and other concerned persons.
But the former President has been in the news from time to time , especially with the formation of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement…
(Cuts in…) He cannot be troubled with this one , and that is what I’ m saying about the duality of his character. I don’ t think he ’ s the right person to be talking about the Coalition for Nigeria Movement , but I want to appeal to him to please use his coalition to unite the whole nation and his family . Daddy Obasanjo should let God use him to bring a peaceful change into this nation and his own family . However , I think that coalition should metamorphose into coalition for restoration of peace , reconciliation , unity and oneness , to bring everybody together because Nigeria is so divided now . People are traumatised and that is why many people are abusing President Muhammadu Buhari . I like to use this medium to appeal to Nigerians not to abuse the President . He ’ s human and he ’ s liable to make mistakes . What Chief Obasanjo and Buhari need to do is to come together because they have a lot in common . They are both very powerful and they have great influence in this nation . They have both served as military Heads of State and civilian presidents . I don’ t think this nation should be going through this trauma , but truth is that Nigerians are going through the worst kind of suffering at this time , even though it ’ s not his doing . I think we should all find a way of helping him out of office so he could go and rest. The Almighty God is forever in the business of answering prayers
. He will answer the prayers of many of us in this nation that are saying we don’ t want him for second term .
Are you saying he shouldn ’ t recontest ?
God forbid .
I’ m saying it loud and clear without fear . He should just go back to Katsina. I’ m praying to God that as He (God ) aborted the third term plan of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo , God should also abort his re – election bid for 2019 . I respect the two of them , but they should stay out of power. Whoever is coming should be someone who would treat us well and remove the hardship . As a president, you are like an executive prisoner because you don’ t see what is happening . Chief Obasanjo is now out of office , so his eyes are wide open now . I love President Buhari , but I don’ t want him to contest. When he goes back to Katsina, I would love to go with my children and grandchildren to visit him in Daura. In a nation of over 150 million people , both of them have ruled under two different dispensations , and I think the electoral process should be reviewed so that we would have only one term , because it ’ s enough for anyone who has a plan . Chief Lateef Jakande spent only one term in office as governor of Lagos State, but look at the wonders he performed . So , anyone that cannot do it in one term should leave peacefully. We need fresh hands and we need to abolish this do or die mentality. I’ m not a hypocrite .
I love him and I don’ t want people to be insulting him , but I don’ t want him again. We need a fresh person that can be corrected , a unifying figure who is not divisive or tribalistic. God has been very good to President Buhari ; he was a Petroleum Minister , military Head of State and now he ’ s the incumbent President. He should not be in the league of those desperate to do a second term at all cost because I want him to be another Nelson Mandela; to leave an enduring legacy of love, unity, humility , forgiveness and selflessness that succeeding generations can learn from . I also have an advice for the government as regards the herdsmen and Boko Haram crises ; I feel they should look for the sponsors and call them into a dialogue .
Nigeria needs peace . Specifically on the herdsmen crisis, I believe modern ranching presents an investment opportunity and a way out of the crisis.