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Tuesday, 29 August 2017

I Have “Donated” My Son To Nigeria - Olubisi Osibajo Nigerian Vice President’s Mother [Photos]

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That Sunday morning, mama Osibajo had left instruction that we should wait for her in one of the rooms in the massive compound of the Anglican Church where she worships. She was not the type that would abandon church service to honour an interview appointment. It must be God first.  But just as the service wounded off she walked briskly to the room to the waiting hands of these reporters looking relaxed and graceful. One could sense the peace and tranquility around her

She is in her eighties but her voice, composure and visage did not indicate she was in the class of the eighties.  The interview started in earnest and it was really quite revealing. She did not parry questions. She spoke from her heart and was ready to give all the time.
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But we could not have all the time as the interview had to be cut so she could attend to other concerns. But the few minutes we spent with her was quite revealing.

She turned out to be a woman with a heart for God who over the years has cultivated a relationship which is beyond  gold with her maker. Find below excerpts from the interview conducted by the trio of Gbenga Osinaike, Tunji Oguntuase and Dayo Emmanuel.

Were you an Anglican by birth?

I was not born an Anglican. I became an Anglican by marriage.  I was a Baptist, I went to a Methodist school but I married an Anglican man and that makes me an Anglican. I think it has been a great experience since I became a member of the church.

Are you also come from Ijebu; like your late husband?

I am not an Ijebu woman.  I’m from Osun  State. My mother is from Yewa in Ogun State while my father is from Osun. But I married  an Ijebu man.

But you seem to have imbibed everything about the Ijebus?

What do you expect having been married to an Ijebu man. I should naturally be by them because we were truly married. We loved each other and our union was divine. I give God the glory for this

How then will you describe the Ijebu people?

Ijebu people are friendly people. I am more of an Ijebu woman now than being an Osun person. I have been in Ijebu land for over 60 years now  as a result of marriage.  Baba Awolowo liked me so much. He called me his daughter.  He did not joke with me at all. At a point my husband was wondering why baba Awolowo cared so much for me. In fact baba Awolowo once said to me, “you are one of the seven people I don’t want to offend in my life.’  That statement came to my husband as a shock. He said to me, ‘I don’t know what you did for baba.’ . I think Baba Awolowo changed my perspective about Ijebu people.That is why I can confidently say that Ijebu people are wonderful people. They know how to care of  people.


In those days people would not easily allow their children to marry people that are not from their own clan. How was it that it was easy for you to marry from another tribe?

You are right. As a matter of fact my people didn’t want me to marry from a far away place. I don’t know their reasons but I think they didn’t want their children to go too far away from home. That is why they insist that their children should marry from the same tribe as theirs. It may not be due to any bad blood as some had come to believe.  It is just an unfounded fear of losing their people to other tribes. But baba Awolowo played a great role in ensuring that I got married to my husband. He tried to break that tribal inhibition.

You were a Baptist, how did you find Anglican Church after marriage?

I like Anglican Church that is why I didn’t go to any other church since I got married even after the death of my husband. What we do in Anglican Church is being done in Methodist church and other places. So there is no reason to be moving from one church to another. I like the fact that the Anglican Church is Bible based and there is a lot of discipline in the church. The priests in the Anglican Church are accountable and they are dedicated. I think the Anglican Church is the ideal Church. But that does not mean all other churches are bad. We all preach Christ.

Your son Professor Yemi Osibajo who is also the Vice President of Nigeria is a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, despite being raised by Anglican parents, how did this happen?

There was a reason he went to the Redeemed Christian Church of God. It is a long story. I don’t want to start saying it here. But we are happy that he is serving God. His life is a shining example. I’m really proud of him.
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He must have been inviting you to his church?

Yes, he has invited me on several occasions and I honour such invitation. But I still remain an Anglican. We Christians want our children to be good Christians. They don’t have to attend the same church with us. What is important is that they are serving God. It will interest you to know that all my children are pastors in other churches other than the Anglican Church. But I have remained faithful to the Anglican Church. I think it has to do with commitment. But I do not begrudge my children. I am happy that they have turned out well and that they are serving God.


Tell us about your late husband, was he into priest. How come all his children are now pastors despite being successful in their chosen fields?

He was just a warden in his church at Ikenne in Ogun State. He was a lover of God and a dedicated Church worker. In those days he would drive from lLagos to Ikenne every Sunday to worship  God in the Anglican Church in that town. He was so much a Christian.  Nobody could have changed him. So the children grew to worship God like their father.  I am convinced that what we are seeing in the children is a consequence of the seed that God enabled us to sow in their lives; that is the seed of the word of God. And I think that is the kind of heritage any parent should be proud of.
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What is your relationship with The Most Revd Adebayo Akinde who is retiring from the Church of Nigeria?

I came to know papa Akinde 10 years ago when he came here as the pioneer Bishop and later Archbishop of Lagos Province of the Anglican Church. One of our colleagues in Women Bible Class had earlier attended his sent forth in Abeokuta when he was being sent down to our place. On the Sunday he was being sent down here, she came to tell us what happened. She said all the women were weeping. And expressed so much love and affection for Baba Akinde. I began to wonder; why they were weeping because a priest was leaving them.

So we were all expecting him to resume as the Bishop in our diocese which was new then. When he came, he called all the old women together, he prayed with us.  He also called the old men and prayed and prayed with them.   He shared scriptures with us. That disposition towards old people endeared him to many of us. It was a confirmation of the kind of person he is. We love him. All the old women in the church and old men love him. We know him as someone with kind words.  He used to say God bless you, God bless you and we claimed the blessings and we see the reality in our lives. If you claim it, you would be blessed, we didn’t want him to leave us but we know God has better things for him so we have to be praying for him.
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How was it raising your children?

Let me say that no parent can raise children successfully without the backing of God. As a matter of fact I can say from experience that God is the one who enabled us to raise our children. I also found out that when a man marries the right woman and a woman marries the right man things will work out for them. The tragedy in today’s marriage is that many couples don’t love themselves. But when you marry a woman out of love, things would go well.

In my own case, I used to wake  up 4 o’clock to pray and I do that till 5 am. Then I would wake the whole house for family prayers by 5 am.. When the children were growing up, that was how they were raised. The prayer culture was ingrained in them right from their youth. That has helped my children a lot. I think the prayers must have impacted them so much. But then they did not find it funny. They used to call me mummisco because the idea of coming to wake them for prayers was like aborting their sweet sleep. But over time they got used to it.  Now, my son, Yemi is always fasting and always praying. I once asked him ‘are you carrying all the problems of Nigeria on your head?’

What lessons did you learn from your late husband?

He was a very hard working man. He was a disciplinarian. He was focused.  He was not carried away by the prevailing circumstances in those days. Somebody once went to Baba Awolowo and told him that my husband was a coward because he did not join politics. Baba said he was not a coward, but that he just didn’t want to be in politics.  He never liked politicians. He believed politicians were liars and tiried to stay away from them. I am sure if he was alive he would have discouraged his son from going into politics. He  just did not like the idea of people being deceived. But the case of Baba Awolowo was different. He saw in Awolowo a forthright person who had the love of people at heart. But he could not stand some other politicians.

He was also a very committed Christian who did not want people to live a hypocritical life. When people were wearing shaki (occult regalia) to church, my husband stood against them. He warned them against wearing such regalia to church and fought them all the way. He said to them that it was an abomination for them to wear cloths that were worn by Ogboni (cult) people to church. He wrote to Bishop Segun who was Bishop then about the matter. When Bishop Segun heard about it, he wrote a letter to the church and warned those who wear such regalia to church to stop. That was what put an end to the wearing of such regalia in the Anglican Church in Ikenne.
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When he died and we were going to bury him, we had 11 Bishops who were around for the burial because they knew what he did for the Church and what he stood for. It was as if they were burying a Bishop. When we were going to the burial ground, there were four choirs with four different uniforms and I wanted to shout hallelujah, but I didn’t want to because people would say see someone who lost her husband shouting hallelujah. He was 77, you would miss someone like that as a wife, this was someone you talked with, sit down together in the church with, the main thing is to just hold onto Jesus. There were a lot of things to learn from my late husband. But the bottom line is that when you worship God He takes care of you.

But how come he was that religious?

My husband came from a religious family. My mother in-law  was a prophetess.  Whatever would happen she would just tell you. I learnt so many things from her. She was a very religious person, she prayed and fasted a lot, I don’t like fasting so much but I used to pray so much and God always answered. God has been supplying my needs. I don’t have any lack. If something is getting finished in my house, someone would come to replenish it. God has been so good. When I pray, God answers me. I don’t know what I did for God.

What were you doing for a living?

I was a teacher. But after some time I left teaching to join my husband in his business. He was a saw miller in those days.

Do you have any fear for your son because of the situation of the country?

No no no no, I have no fear for him because I know it was God that chose him.  I never thought of him becoming the vice president of Nigeria because we are not politicians and I didn’t expect it, I always pray for him, I spoke with him yesterday. They have been trying to get through to me since, they couldn’t get through to me because I switched off all my phones. Then later somebody called through a policeman’s phone and when they gave me the phone it was my son, he said, mama, “I have been trying to get through to you, where did you drop your phones, I said I didn’t know where they are. Then we talked. I have a great relationship with all my children.”

It means you probably have just little access to him now due to his engagement?

Yes, very little, even when I went to Abuja, I spent a month there, I didn’t see him more than three times. I have donated  my son to Nigeria. I know the God whom I serve will keep him and protect him along with all others that are at the leadership of this country.

What is your relationship with the new Bishop Pelu Johnson?

I know him very well. His family was here, they were here before they went to the cathedral. We were very happy when we heard he was the one coming, we have been praying for him and we know he would succeed as the new Bishop. He will do well.

Via - churchtimesnigeria.

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