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On that sunny Friday when this reporter got into The Olukolus’ home, with open arms the mother of the home, who wore a well-styled anakara, welcomed her. Right in the visitor’s sitting room, this perfect host smiled all through the interview session.
Cool and calm Mrs. Oluwafumilayo Olukolu is a nurse by training, but she abandoned the syringe and the stethoscope just to give her children the best training. Though she abandoned her profession at the insistence of her husband, she tells whoever cares to listen that she made the wisest decision. Senior Reporter ANTHONIA SOYINGBE met her recently and she opened up on her home and her life.
She is a Christian while her husband, who is the lawmaker representing Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Ganiyu Olukolu, is a staunch Muslim. Despite the difference in their religion, peace and harmony reign in their home. Though there are many homes like theirs, but one can hardly know these features of the Olukolus except one is told.
The secret this woman, who recently celebrated her golden jubilee, said is, “God’s grace and God’s unfailing favour.” When young Ganiyu Olukolu approached young Oluwafunmilayo, who then was a student of a school of nursing in the North for marriage, she immediately told him point blank that she couldn’t marry him because his religion was a barrier to love. She said she wasn’t ready to become a Muslim hence she declined his proposal on that ground. He on the other hand promised that he would never force his religion on her, no matter the pressure from any quarter. With this assurance from her then fiancé, she agreed to have a relationship with him then. Hear her how it all began: “It is beyond me and it is not my making. I didn’t intend to marry him and he knew that from the onset. He told my mother that he wanted to marry me and I was mad at him for approaching my mother instead of him telling me. When I confronted him, he begged me for acting in such way. His excuse was that I would turn his proposal down. He added that he was scared of approaching me straight. When we were courting, he took me to church and he picked me from church. I told him then that I couldn’t practise Islam and he said he was okay with that. We were both living in the North then. I also asked him, ‘I hope your relatives would not insist that I become a Muslim once we get back to the West where they stay?’ He said no. I respect my husband because he is a man of his words and a man of integrity.” Over 15 years in marriage, she still spoke passionately of her husband, a politician as if they got married 15 days back. Without asking her about her husband, this woman who attained golden age few months back said with a love-laced voice, “My husband was and he is still a man of integrity. Honestly, I never knew he could still maintain his standards despite he being in politics. I thought he would change, but he is still his normal self and I admire his integrity and his humility. He is God sent to me and I am happy I am his wife.”
What has been sustaining the home despite the difference? Sunday Independent queried and she said with a tone of sincerity, “It is simply God, conflict or crisis has never arisen in our household because of religion. We get on well as couples. Before I gave him my consent, I sought the face of God and God is manifesting in our home. It is beyond me, I must confess but to God be all the glory. I often advise people not to help marriage; rather they should allow it to come up gradually on its own. If you do that, you can easily burn your finger and you will regret it. Many people still think I use charms on him just because he allows me to practise my religion. My husband has always been a great man of integrity and a man of honour. God is working mightily and greatly in our home.”
Like many women, she vehemently kicked against it when her husband informed her that he wanted to embrace politics. Since politics has been termed as a dirty game by many people in different quarters. She was against it, but she gave her consent later after praying. “When my husband informed me that he was going into politics, I kicked against it outrightly. I was mad at his decision. I acted that way because I had heard lots of things about politicians, I learnt that before you can penetrate, you have to be in a caucus or better still you will perform some rituals before you are given the chance. I prayed about it and God approved it, hence I supported him,” she told Sunday Independent with smile.
Coping with some political associates could be tedious as many see them as intruders who are out to milk their master dry. Really such people can come into one’s home at anytime of the day without checking what time of the day it is. For a cool woman like many including this reporter thought she will have problems coping with her husband’s political associate. When asked she waved her hand as if to say, “That doesn’t bother me,” and she said, “I thank God for my upbringing this in no small measure contributed to my acts in life. I am from a large family where respect is mandatory. I don’t have problem with any of his associates. I see them as members of the family.”
Attaining golden age for her is attaining, “golden grace” because of God’s benevolence on her in the past and in the present. When she was asked how she feels attaining the golden age, she giggled, looked up, shook her head and said with a tone of gratitude, “I give thanks to God his unquantifiable blessings and favour in my life. He has always been faithful to me. He is my sustainer and my fortress. God has been so kind to me and gracious to my family. I am a candidate of his golden grace and I give all glory unto his name.”
Mrs. Olukolu mixes freely with people, unlike many political officeholders’ wives who are not only arrogant, but proud. She said she doesn’t believe the best way to reveal one’s status is through flamboyance. Moderation to her is the key. Though she seldom wears make-up, she said she doesn’t feel like the odd one out rather she loves her appearance and she is not ready to change such in exchange of anything in the world. “I have always been like this and I don’t regret been like this. I don’t feel like the odd one out. My father while we were growing up forbade us from wearing make-up and this is still part of me. I don’t regret it and I thank God for my upbringing because this has affected me positively and I still want to maintain it,” she added.
She was born into a very strict home and as the first child of the home; she was saddled with many responsibilities by her very strict father. This according to her helped her in life. “I am the first child and my father was just too strict. Then I thought he was out to maltreat me but now I appreciate him better because he imbibed in me good values which are still part of me till date. Lots of values were imparted into me as the first child and I was responsible for so many things in my home. My father doesn’t indulge me and I thank God because he prepared me tasks ahead,” she added.
For her, a woman’s home should be her treasure. “When we came down to the West my husband told me to stop working so that I would concentrate on our children, I was so reluctant because I loved my profession. I thank God I did because I was always there for my children and that really helped them in life,” she said while recalling a time when her child’s teacher praised her for imparting good values into her child. According to her, the teacher told her that her children behaved well and they had never been found wanting in school.