I have everything I need in my wife! And more time now to relax since I left public office - Yomi Awoniyi (Ex- Dep Gov Kogi State) - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Monday, 5 September 2016

I have everything I need in my wife! And more time now to relax since I left public office - Yomi Awoniyi (Ex- Dep Gov Kogi State)

Architect Yomi Awoniyi with wife

By Paul Ukpabio

Ex Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Architect Yomi Awoniyi, may not be too happy about the loss of the governance of the state to an opposition political party, but he also realises that, it is not the end of the world. So the ever youthful looking third son of Chief Sunday Awoniyi, the late ebullient statesman and politician of note, is looking beyond politics and finding his feet and life outside government house.

In looks and carriage though, Yomi Awoniyi when he
first emerged in Kogi state's political stage, may not have initially come across to many as a thorough going politician like his father was. But while he was in political office as the Deputy Governor, many did acknowledge that, though an urbane gentleman he is, he still has the political semblance of his late father, and has not only the political genes of his father, but actually may toe the good political path laid down by his father.
We caught up with him recently, in the rural community of Iyah Gbede in Kogi state, where he was, paying his last respect to the late mother of ex Military Governor of Western State, General David Jemibewon. Here, the former Deputy Governor told us about life after public office and several other things about his present lifestyle.
But first we asked him if he is pleased with his foray into politics so far and if he considers himself capable of fitting conveniently  into his father’s shoes. Yomi Awoniyi thought about the question for a moment and jokingly replied with a laugh, “My shoe size was bigger than my dad’s, whilst he was alive. His was a size eight and I wear size ten. So my shoes are much bigger. He laughed a little more and continued, “On a serious note, there is no way I can describe my father or even try to fit totally into his shoes because, the very essence of his being, was very close to utopia for somebody like me! I wouldn’t even try to match that! He was indeed a well respectable man.”
Urged further to elaborate on who his father really was, especially as it relates to the controversy which more than once, reared itself up with some feeling that his father was a northerner, while some felt that his father was a southerner. Yomi Awoniyi looked up and indisputably declared, “My father was a northern Christian, called Sunday Awoniyi, from a village down the road called Mopa. Having said so, I believe and want you to know that, he was a major inspiration and influence in my life, he educated me, nurtured me, I think that he instilled some profound values in me, which has stood me in good stand in all my life.
Yomi Awoniyi was also ready to talk about his lifestyle outside government house. When asked about it, he joked about it and asked back, “don’t I look a little more relaxed?’ A wide smile came to his lips in amusement. It remained there for a brief while before he continued, 

“There is actually nothing strange or different about being in power and being out of power. You go into power with the strong believe in the knowledge that one day, you will leave the office. That of course is, if you are wise enough to go into power with such a believe. Yes. We are out of power right now, yes again, we have battles that we are fighting at the Supreme Court, but having said that, I actually give thanks to God, who took me in there and brought me out. I give thanks to God Almighty for giving me the benefit of having served at that level. It opened my eyes to so many things; my political horizon has been further more deepened by serving as the Deputy Governor of Kogi State. 

Do you miss the paraphernalia of your erstwhile political position and office? “No,” he replied with a vehement shake of the head. Asked further if he has any message for the people of the state, he simply replied: First of all, I wish everybody well on my own, I cherish the respect that I am presently getting from having served at that level in the state. I have however reclaimed my private life, as you can see, I feel very well rested.”

While the cool air of Iyah Gbede weaved around the environment, and the musicians who were a distance in front of us, putting in place their instruments in preparation to entertain that evening, we asked the former deputy Governor of Kogi state, Mr Yomi Awoniyi, more questions. How about his mother, Is she still alive, what kind of influence did she have on him through his life so far?
“Like any other mother, she has had a very profound influence on me,” he replied with humour and nostalgia all over his face. “As you can see, I am really picky with my words and response about my mom because, no one has ever asked me this question! My mom has been very humane to me, very loving, very accommodating and always wanting to carry everybody along. Oh yes, she is still very much around and alive. She is presently in Canada holidaying.

He spoke so well, with good diction and ease. We told him, “Listening to you talk, your intonation shows that you must have lived most of your life abroad,” and then we followed with a question, “so which of the countries abroad did you grow up in?”
Mr Yomi Awoniyi must have held his breath for a while in shock. “I didn't live most of my life abroad! Rather, I have lived most of my life here. I schooled in Balewa's College, Zaria and I studied Architecture in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I am a full homely educated Nigerian. My late father made it compulsory for us to listen to the BBC and to VOA while growing up, and you know when you listen much to radio, you definitely pick one or two things. But sincerely, I do not see anything strange about my accent at all. I am a thorough bred Nigeria. It is just evident of what education was in my own time.”
You just talked about education, when you look at it critically today, does the state of the education sector make you feel sad? He was quiet, and then chose his words again. “Yes, it does make me sad. I feel sad. Even after serving in Kogi state, I have come to realise that unless we come to reality, education cannot be free, we must pay tuition. That is because, when education is free, it loses its content and quality. Our experience has shown that free education is not qualitative. When I see what our universities are charging as school fees, there is no way they can deliver.

But people are complaining that the private universities are charging bogus fees; does he think that the private universities should be regulated? “No, I even think that the private universities are being considerate with what they charge. We should remember that education is not cheap. A university anywhere in the world, charges about $35,000 per annum. But here in our universities, some of them charge N35,000 for the whole year.

One recalled that Mr.Yomi Awoniyi’s father, Chief Sunday Awoniyi, the late politician had since the first republic in Nigeria, been holding positions even in the government of that time. So we asked him, you had a privileged background of some sort while you were growing up, why did your dad insist that you study in Nigeria?
The ex Deputy Governor fell short of laughing, and was deeply amused. “I don’t think you are right there, my father was just a civil servant. He was never a rich person. So the option of schooling abroad didn't even exist! Secondly, when we went to school, believe me, Ahmadu Bello University was just as good as Oxford University. It was that good! I mean, most of my lecturers were expatriates from Poland, from the UK and education was very sound. It was later in life when it was time to do my Masters that my father said okay, expose yourself to the UK. So I went to the University College of London.

As an educated handsome man with political clout, and one with good features, very attractive to the opposite sex, we asked the former Deputy Governor how he handles the women who somehow get attracted to him.

He laughed in great amusement. And then he laughed again. Finally, he said with the posture of a lecturer giving good advice to his student: “I am very, very much married to a beautiful woman! I don't have to be on my toes at all. (He said that with emphasis). Ahaaaa! In her, I already have everything I need. Right now, she is at the Redeemed Camp because this week is our church's annual convention. If it wasn’t for General David Jemibewon’s event this week, I would have been right there by her side at the church camp.

Yomi Awoniyi shared with us, the joy of his sweet home and the marital bliss that he has come to find in the marriage he had to his beloved wife.
Tell us please, how did you meet your wife? “Our families have been friends for long. We had known ourselves for long too. Our families have been interacting too for a very long time. Coincidentally, the day my mother met her mother, she was being christened. I was strapped on my mom's back; they said that somebody from Kabba was christening her daughter. My mom went there and when she saw her mother, she jokingly told the woman, 'Omo mi lo mafe omo yin o.' Meaning, it’s my son that will marry your daughter. Behold, those words became prophetic and it happened.
Asked how his marriage has fared over the years, he replied in the mood of one who has found happiness and contentment. “It has been fantastic.” How many years now? “It has been twenty-nine years of marriage now.”

The former Deputy Governor took time to comment on the lot of marriages that have suffered breakage in recent times, proffering advice to couples, young and old about ways of keeping their marriage going smoothly: And also seizing the opportunity too, to touch on the secrets that have sustained his marriage, over the years.
“Married couples just have to be very patient with each other. For me, I pray that God give every man an opportunity to be able to provide for their wives. That is my prayer for every man. That is, may God, give you ability and opportunity, to be the provider for your family, Amen. Anybody who tells you that the ability to provide for the family is not fundamental to marriage, is just deceiving you. Having said so, it is very good and helpful to have a wife who understands, because life is like this, today you are up and the next day you could be down. May God give you the patience and may God give you a wife who is very forgiving.”

Since Yomi Awoniyi attends The Redeemed Christian Church under the divine headship of Pastor Enoch Adeboye, it became pertinent to recall the pastor’s recent advice to young men to marry women who can cook and can pray for one hour at least. So we asked him, does your wife pray like that, and can she cook?
It turned out to be an easy question for him. He smiled in happiness and replied, “Oh yes, she does. My wife is a prayer warrior; she is a worker in our church parish. (Laughs) Surprisingly when we first got married, I was the one that was more of a prayer warrior. But in recent times, she has found so much of peace in prayer. When she prays now, I become tongue tied.

We also talked about his fashion and style; we asked him how stylish he would say he is. He relaxed back in his chair and was ready with a response.  
“I don't know if I am that stylish, but I know that I have a very good tailor in Abuja, and his name is Ibrahim. He has a gift. He is very talented at what he does. I do not even think of a style or design for what I wear. That’s because he decides, he knows what to do for me. He only tells me that he wants to do so and so for me and I give him a go ahead nod. But one thing with me is that, whatever I decide to wear, I want it to be well sown, the lines straight, with nice curves, very decent not necessarily frayed. 

Some people believe that it is still possible that you become a governor of Kogi state or that you could be a governor in waiting at the moment, considering your educational background, your political height and connections, do you feel so?

He shook his head negatively. “No, I don't think so because, I know it doesn't work that way.” 

Again we asked further, is it possible that somehow he returns to serve in Kogi state?
“I decline to answer for now,” was his ready answer. Not even after being a Deputy Governor of the state? “Yes, I know there is still more to be done.”

However, Yomi Awoniyi told us about his role model when asked if he had one. He smiled happily. “Sunday Awoniyi was and is my role model.”

He also told us what success means to him. “Success to me is the ability to impact positively in the lives of others and I am telling you very frankly that is what success means to me and I am very far away from achieving that totally.

The band was ready. General David Jemibewon who had been here and there welcoming his numerous friends to his country home and to one of the memorable activities to lay his late mom to rest, came to the bandstand in a joyous mood. The band as if waiting for that moment, raised the crescendo of the music beat. The General’s friends started filing out of their seats to dance and rejoice with their host.

We asked Yomi Awoniyi the last question, what is his attachment to General David Jemibewon? Warmly he replied, “I have a monumental respect for him, we are gathered here today to celebrate Mama's life. We thank God for that longevity. To have reached a hundred and six years in life, was no mean feat. My prayer is for us to pray for that kind of favour from God, and that benefit. May His grace of long life favour us and favour us well, Amen.

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