Oluremi Tinubu CON OON is a Nigerian politician and current first lady of Nigeria since 2023, as the wife of President Bola Tinubu. She was the first lady of Lagos State from 1999 to 2007 when her husband was governor.
In her latest interview with ADEMOLA ADEGBAMIGE and BAMIDELE JOHNSON of The News had with the 1st Lady, Senator Oluremi that year.
What attracted you to your husband?
I saw his (Asiwaju Tinubu’s) eyes and thought he had very kind eyes. That was one of the things that attracted me to him. I believe that from the eyes, one can know the mind of a person. I think he got me with his eyes; they were very kind and penetrating eyes and that was how we started.
He was serious about his job and had lofty plans for the future. He didn’t say things you would hear from most guys when he met me. He just said: ‘I don’t have a lot of money, but I love to help people.’ S
o I thought that we had to cut the chase and was ready to settle down for the real business. I just thought that somebody was trying to introduce me to a journey and I concluded that it was a journey I wanted to be part of. I am generous in my own little way and from that angle, I thought it would be quite interesting to go along with.
How would you describe President Bola Tinubu as a man, husband, father to the children?
As a man, he is very courageous and hardworking. He is also very loyal to his friends and always ready to sacrifice himself for others. Describing him as a husband is going back into the years, because we have been through different things in life, which we grew and adjusted to. He knew what he wanted from the beginning, but I had a different picture of things when we got married.
But as time went by, I was compelled to adapt. I believe that as one lays one’s bed, so one lies on it. It took a while for me to adjust, because my concept of marriage and expectations were high, but with time, I was able to settle down and understand what marriage was all about.
I wrote about my early experience in marriage in the little coffee table book I wrote some time ago. He later became my best friend. I love him a lot, and I think he loves me, too.
If he didn’t, we would not have come this far. So, the feeling is quite mutual. I respect him and can call him a good provider. He loves himself and his family. I have come to understand that love is a basic ingredient in a marriage and the moment I started understanding the concept of love, I began to understand more what living together entails. With him, I have found the love of God and the concept of love in its totality, and I can say that I have found a place of rest and fulfillment. He is not a man who complains and has a huge heart for forgiveness.
How did the love affair begin?
I know that is what most people want to hear. And it is quite strange. Initially, I felt like an alien from another planet. It was my sister who introduced me to him. He was a friend to the family even before he traveled abroad.
Then, I graduated from the university and started working. My sister became worried that I was always keeping to myself; I am naturally not an outgoing or sociable person.
I love fashion and love to dress well. She match-made the two of us and we didn’t really have a long courtship before we married.
I realized that it was a relationship that required seriousness and not one to play around with. For me, it is either a relationship is working from the beginning or not. He saw me and thought that I was a wife material. I was interested, too, and realised that he had a good job.
The first thing to know is the attraction that brought the two of us together. Though I didn’t remember who he was any more, my sister tried to remind me. I saw his eyes and thought he has very kind eyes. That was one of the things that attracted me to him. I believe that from the eyes, one can know the mind of a person.
I think he got me with his eyes; they were very kind and penetrating eyes and that was how we started. He was serious about his job and had lofty plans about the future. He didn’t say things you would hear from most guys when he met me.
He just said: ‘I don’t have a lot of money, but I love to help people.’ So I thought that we had to cut the chase and was ready to settle down for the real business. I just thought that somebody was trying to introduce me to a journey and I concluded that it was a journey I wanted to be part of. I am generous in my own little way and from that angle, I thought it would be quite interesting to go along with.
Did you at the beginning nurse any fear that his outgoing nature could predispose you to some hurt?
At that time of my life, at 25 years, I was quite confident of myself. There are a lot tricky things when going into a relationship. Yes, I thought to myself that I was gorgeous and all that, but as time went by I realised that those things didn’t really matter when both parties settle down to a real relationship. I am quite homely and not the jealous type and I think it really helped.
I believed that it was enough to feel love for him. He was really an outgoing type and a disc jockey. He was telling somebody sometime ago that he was really ‘bad’ in those days.
Did you face any competition for him?
I didn’t compete for his heart. I don’t do competition. I am very confident of who I am. I think he had some people he was dating, but he felt he had met the right woman when he met me. I wouldn’t say I really competed with anyone to have him. If there is anything I hate, it is fighting over a man and an environment where such is happening.
I always believed that the way a woman presents herself to a man is the way the man sees her. He showed some respect at the time and I felt that was adequate. I wasn’t the type that would barge into a man’s house uninvited.
So, whenever I was going to see him, he usually knew I was coming. My mother equally warned me about barging into a man’s house without invitation and that was the advice I took from home and applied in my relationship.
Did anyone put some pressure on you to reconsider your position on the basis of the difference in your religion?
Yes, my dad did. Though I was born into an Anglican family, I wasn’t a born-again Christian and wasn’t really the church-going type. We were raised as Christians. One of the things my dad told him when we visited him was not to stop me from being a Christian. I can tell you now that I am a better Christian now because of my relationship with him.
I would say that I know God more now than before. Maybe I would have been drawn away from the things of God if it had started as a lovey-dovey affair. He was a man who is set in his ways and knew where he was going; unlike myself, who was just playing with life and didn’t know my right from my left. With that, one needs a balance and I can say that it became a plus for me to know more about God, which has helped in stabilising my home