I am my husband's Personal Assistant on socials and other matters - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

I am my husband's Personal Assistant on socials and other matters

-Ololade Morenike Adewunmi (Lions Club District 404B First Lady)

Ololade Adewunmi is the wife of the current District Governor of Lions Club District 404B. She was there with him in Japan, few weeks ago, where among the larger body of international Lions, her husband began the ceremonies for his induction as the District Governor of the club in District 404 Nigeria.

By implication thus, she naturally assumes the role of the First Lady for Lions of the District in Nigeria, with many looking up to her as a role model.

Her love story is unique. Just like her husband, she started out as a young Leo on campus. They met at a Lion’s Club event and there was no looking back. Both have rapidly moved up the ladder of the club, with her husband being the youngest Lion ever to be so installed as a President of the club in Nigeria.

A daughter of an ex top Central Bank of Nigeria official, Ololade Adewunmi takes us through her early life as she sojourned with her parents from one region of Nigeria to another and to Ilorin, where she acquired a chess of gold but lost it all in a mysterious way. She spoke to Paul Ukpabio in Lagos.

What inspired your interest to join a social club like Lions Club?

I started in the Higher Institution as a Leo in 2001. Some members of Lions Club came for a convention in Ilorin where I was at that time. I was so marvelled about the way they went about their proceedings. My dad was a member of the club. I told my dad that I love the club and would love to be a member. So he told me that when I get to a higher institution, I can join. Fortunately for me, the year I got to my school, an arm of the club was introduced due to the school through a friend called Ololade Fajobi. She was the one that came to tell me that the club had been introduced to her. I was excited so I immediately joined.

I lived in Kwara state, I grew up there too. My dad was a banker always on transfer, so we moved from place to place. For university education, I went to Ogbomosho, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology where I studied Computer Engineering.

When you joined, what impression did you have of Leo Club?

Leo Club was an opener to me for leadership experience. It kind of enlarged my coast, opened our eyes to the larger society, and we were able to interact with people we considered as leaders of thought in the larger society. We had trainings, we engaged ourselves in humanity projects, such as donating borehole to the Leprosy colony in Ogbomosho. They had been there for a long time without the public giving them the least attention. And imagine us, just young people who gathered our meagre resources together, to deliver such a meaningful project to them. Our resources was from the little that our parents sent to us in school to take care of ourselves, though we were also taught how to raise money for projects from our leaders in the Lions Club. The fact that we were also having our meetings at posh hotels even at that level was also an inspiration to us, which taught us about responsibility, because we also had to source money to pay for such places.

So what other things did you learn immediately after joining the club?

I can say that before I joined the Leo Club, I was an introvert; I couldn't even talk much or address a gathering. But bit by bit, I started getting the training in public speaking, eloquence and all that. For instance my children are beneficiaries of that today because as little children, they are bold and can speak in public, because of the training that we have had and now impart to them. I started out as a founding member of the Leo Club in my school. Today I am the first female Leo to become the First Lady of Lions Club in Nigeria. (Laughs) To me, that is a great feat.  

And your husband how did you meet?

(Laughs) I can say it was a God ordained journey when we met because he was a District President of Leo Club when we met, he came to charter our club, at that time I was the Lautech Leo Club treasurer.

Was that moment that his cupid's arrow found your heart?

(Laughs) Yes, that was the moment. You know, as the District President of Leo Club, wherever a club is being chartered, he had to be there. After that, he was always disturbing me about a solid relationship and because of me; they had to bring the Leo National convention of that year to Ogbomosho in 2002! He was always shuttling from Lagos where he was based to Ogbomosho where I was in school.

Actually, we probably could have met earlier in life, even before he came to my school for the first time to charter the club. But as it was, I was not going out of Ogbomosho for club events like my friends in the club were doing. For instance, when he was inducted as Leo President in Badagry, my club members all went, but I didn't because of the nature of my course which was tough and needed much concentration from me then. My club members used to call me 'a local Leo' because I was not travelling with them, but God had His way. We met later that year, and we got married three years after! He had left school much earlier and was already working. I was not keen on having a relationship with him and that was unlike the ladies on campus who I understood then preferred the working class who they could use as hit and run.

So he was in Lagos and you were in Ogbomosho, when you got married who moved to the other side to meet the other?

(Laughs) I was the one that moved from Ogbomosho to meet him in Lagos and that was because I had finished my degree course by then. However, the surprise is that, he couldn't wait! I got married while I was in 200 level.

How has the marriage been?

It has been glorious and wonderful. We are Christians and he has been very supportive and has also been my mentor in several ways.

In some families, a spouse joining a social club could lead to problems in the marriage. What has been your experience being that you and your husband are not just staunch members of a social club but also key officials?

As a couple being in Lions Club has made it so much easy for us because I can imagine if I wasn't a member of the club, the marriage would have had issues because my husband can come home today and the next moment he had to travel again. But because I have the knowledge and idea of what his job entails and the demands on his time by the club, we are able to cope with one another. At times he might go for a week! If I wasn't a member of the club, it would have been a tug of war at home. But God made it that I have the knowledge, the understanding and I know his passion for the club. I have the same passion for the club too but I have to lay back sometimes because of the children. Being a mother looking after young children is not an easy task too. But the good thing is that, now that the children have grown at least to some extent, I can say I am back fully into activities of the club.

Your husband said recently that you are his official personal assistant to the District Governor for the centennial year.

(Laughs) Yes, that is true.

That indeed is not very common. So do you think he chose you as his official personal assistant?

When we were having the training in preparation for his coming into the office as District Governor, he told us that the work of his personal assistant will be to help him emotionally and officially! That anytime he goes out and comes in, he will need someone who will be able to emotionally please him after the official assignment! And he has decided to choose me as his personal assistant (Laughs).

How will you combine that with the home front being that every Lion knows how tasking your official duties to the club will be?

I traveled to Japan with him recently for over two weeks. My mom had to come and stay at our home with the children while we were away. We are balancing it with the help of God. I must confess that there are some occasions that I don't attend, in which case, he has to attend alone. But again, there are other occasions that are sensitive and I just have to be there.

As a District Governor of District 404-B, this is going to be a busy year for him. Are you looking forward to that?

Yes. The truth is that, I started two years ago, looking forward to this centennial year. Even the children understand when he is traveling they ask him when he will be coming back and then inform him and as well take permission to sleep in his room with me. He is the youngest ever Lion to become a District Governor! I never knew he was going to climb up the ladder so soon, but I knew even back then, that he had a future in the club. He had a dream and even back then, he used to share the dream with me.

Both of you are busy people, do you have time to have holidays with the children?

Yes, we do take out time for holidays, but in the past few years, because of our schedule, we have not done that. Though earlier in the marriage, it was common to do that. If I take holiday now with the children, he will be left alone. He is a businessman apart from being the Lions Club District Governor. He still has to run his business.

And what do you do for a living?

I work in the Lagos State Ministry of Education. My work entails that I am busy too, so it is him alone that is busy. But my job enables me to have time with my children. The job was chosen especially so that I can have time for the children as well.

What’s the future like?

Hopeful, dutiful and has lots of space for us for the service of humanity. We have the national convention coming up in Ilorin and then the international convention in Chicago in USA. This centennial year is a big year for all Lions, and we are all committed.

But your club is not just a social club, it is also about committing resources, and both of you are Lions occupying the top seats in the club; invariably don’t you think the demands of the club has been eating into your family resources?

No, when you are a Lion, when you make up your mind to join the club, you already know that you are going to serve! As a Christian, we believe that God; loves a cheerful giver. If you open your hand you get more, when you tighten your hand, you get less. When you bless a soul, God smiles down at you. It is better to give than to collect. Personally, I am not saying that we have excess resources considering all the projects that have been laid out for the year, but as a couple, we have told God that His work to humanity has to be done and we know and believe that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory. Sometimes I am in a tight corner and before I know it, doors open.

I can recall that some time ago, I decided to resign my job where I was and people screamed that I shouldn't. But before long, I got the job with the government. I didn't know anybody in the government but God intervened and I was employed. So that is God for you and such good luck comes easy with Him when you do good deeds.

Both of you are also involved in Christian ministry of the Redeemed Christian of God. Tell us about that.

He found his joy in the ushering department, while I am in the children department. I am very involved in it just like he is very involved in his department.

You told us earlier that your dad was also a Lion

He has been a member of the Lions Club. But he was not as involved as I later became. In his own case, it was his status in society that attracted his friends to invite him to join because they knew he will be able to donate and support their projects. 

Did your background contribute to what you are today?

It must have, because, I grew up in a home where we were moving from one state of the country to another: from Benin to another place then to another place and so on. So we lived in different parts of the country and as a family, we were always travelling together. Secondly, I thank God for the parents I have, there was freedom for me to do whatever I wanted to do. Like I told you, I asked my father when I wanted to join the Lions Club he accepted without any argument whatsoever. That is how they were to me. You know, if he had told me no, of course, that will affect my eventual decision on the matter. My parents were more concerned about us letting them know what we wanted to do before hand. No surprises! You can do whatever you want to do, but let us know about it first! They also taught us to help people. We had a lot of people who stayed with us that we didn't even know from anywhere before. That call to help the needy had always had a place in my family. That way, I have come across so many people in my life that have affected the way I see life and the way that I interpret life.

Can you share some of your memories of childhood with us?

I had a lifestyle in Jos that was very interesting. I loved music and fashion. I fell in love with the popular female singer Salawa Abeni. It got to a point where I told my mom that I did not want to go to school again, that I wanted to do music like Salawa Abeni (laughs). The attraction to Salawa Abeni and her style of music was that high in me. Even till today, I am still one of her greatest fans. I still play her music and sing along. Also our stay in Benin was memorable because I enjoyed myself a great deal and also when we were living in Ilorin. My childhood was fun, I must confess. My dad was working at Central Bank and I had the opportunity of being taken to school in the staff bus or in an official car which was an SUV. He was in the first set of people who were privileged to use that as official car. And at that time, that meant something to us and my friends in school. It was an average home but then we were feathered with some degree of luxury.

How about your mom?

My mom has always been a business woman. I have always had cause to look up to my mom because she is a praying mother.

You are a sociable person and you are in the eye of society. Yet you are a staunch Christian! How do you combine that with your fashion sense?

Well, staunch Christians have good fashion sense too (laughs). I wear anything that fits. I do not really care much about wearing Iro and Buba, but I love gowns, I love flowing gowns. I do shirt and jeans too. I like clothes that are free on the body, not tight, no air things! And most of the times I see that people really do admire the things I wear, especially things that I wear to church.

Do you do makeup, accessories and so on? 

I do light make up; I do accessories but not much. There was a times that I was a gold person. I lived in Ilorin and I was able to acquire quite a lot. However, the gold box was stolen. I was pregnant and was a bit carefree at that point and after the delivery, just when I needed it most, I looked for the gold box and it couldn't be found. We actually had also just moved from one house to another. So it could have actually got missing in transit or whatever. It was indeed painful. The box contained jewels that I had been keeping since I was in secondary school. I grew up in Ilorin home of gold, and again anybody that travelled to Saudi Arabia then used to bring gold back. People returning from Mecca too, used to bring some to sell. So I started contributing money to buy gold very early in life not for sale but for use. I had quite a collection. I remember when I was serving in Lagos under the NYSC programme; I went out for a job appointment wearing a gold plaited shoe. Unfortunately, the head of human resources in that organisation was also wearing same shoe that day. And the people that interviewed me were like, ‘wherever did she get that shoe from!’ A common corper! Of course, I ended up not getting that job! The human resource manager must have thought that if I was employed, there will be a heated fashion competition between us (laughs).

But after my gold chest was lost, I lost total interest in stocking gold. It was painful. It was a great fortune that I had acquired. People tried to comfort me that I should not cry over gold, and more so a new mother who has just put to bed. But I guess God had a reason for that to happen. Perhaps I was also too obsessed with gold. My husband comforted me saying what’s better than surviving the labour room and having a lovely baby. And many people comforted me with such nice words such as ‘vanity upon vanity.’ So that was how my mind went off gold. These days I wear soft accessories and just anything that looks good on me.

What will you not do without?

That will be my bible.

You are the First Lady of District 404, if you are to advice women who are yet to join a social club, what will you say?

Wow! I will say that, it is good for couples to go and join a social club together. That is because, membership of a club entails time, sacrifice and sharing a communal life. A woman who is not a member, but whose husband is a member, then must have patience, tolerance, endurance and be ready to adapt to his lifestyle. I got to a stage where I had to overcome my fears and so on. Initially it affected me even though I was a member of the club, but I had to see and accept it. When we newly got married, he was already a public figure and at events and places some people just go ahead and greet only him who they know and move on ignoring me the wife! Oh it happens so often to women who marry public fugues. But what do you do? You have to learn to enjoy your situation and grow with it. And guess what, it’s even women who ignore the public figure's wife more than the men do. But you know at that initial stage, I used to reassure myself that no matter what they do ignoring me, they cannot come and take my husband from me! So I move on happily. It used to be a challenge but I will advise women in that situation to learn to adapt and grow.

I know that in clubs generally, it’s usually a fun atmosphere but sometimes don't dis-agreement and conflicts arise, how do you manage such situations between members?

(Laughs) What about church, don't people quarrel in church? So, it happens, it can happen anywhere. Women have egos and sorry, they flaunt their egos! And this is always a great challenge. In churches, clubs even in the office environment it is the women that quarrel the most. To handle such matters, you have to first of all look at and appreciate your position. For instance as the First Lady in the club, I cannot jump into any issues. I have to study the issue first. And I have learnt not to react instantly to anything. Personally I have had an experience where a lady who I thought was close to me, ran me down in the company of others. I didn't react immediately. We all laughed it over. It was days later when i was all alone with her, that I told her that she is not my friend. I explained to her what she did and she apologised immediately. But if i had cautioned her that moment she did it, a quarrel would have snowballed from there. So, in leadership, one has to be cautious to enjoy good relationships.

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