By Anna Okon
Where and how did you meet?
Actually we were in school together, postgraduate students at the University of Lagos, she was working I was working so we were like part timers on the postgraduate programme and there was this young cute dark lady in the class; very quiet, unassuming, very serious with her work and her book, prim and proper, lectures over she would raise out and be gone. She did not really have time to socialize as such, but from distance she was lady-like and of good value, she was the kind of material who could eventually be a wife, and that was it for me.
Can you both remember the day he proposed?
Shade: Yes, that happened at his flat at James Robertson Street in Suru-lere, where he lived as a young bachelor.
Were there other ladies that you dated before settling down with your wife?
Victor: Yes oh! But nothing too serious. In our time, it was fashionable for young boys to have one or two girl friends so you can compare and make the right selection of ‘candidate’ for life partnership. Even then, we tried to be careful not to go too far so as not to hurt feelings unnecessarily.
How did they feel when you got married?
Victor: Perhaps disappointed but with no hard feelings. We still remained casual friends until they also moved on with their lives and happily so!
Where did you spend the last Valentine?
We had a nice dinner at the Bungalows Victoria Island. We had Japanese Tepenyaki (with a native Japanese cook at the hotplate). Fantastic experience. We enjoyed it thoroughly!
Can you remember your first Valentine as a couple?
Victor: Remember that the Valentine celebration only gained popularity in Nigeria end of the 90s/early 2000. Our first outing was in 2000. We had a romantic candle light dinner at the Ocean View restaurant in VI. Those days, Lagos traffic, especially on the Island virtually came to a standstill; most restaurants were fully booked well in advance and you really had to be lucky to find a spot. It appears that momentum is lost nowadays though!
For you madam, being with him all these years, what do you think he does for you that no other man could have ever done?
What I know is that he very caring; also, we seem over the years to now understand each other. We have our moments but we know that whatever it is we will get through it.
Sir what are those things that your wife can do to get you angry? When those things happen how do you deal with the situation, do you walk out of the house or throw things?
She can be too persistent on little issues, things that I consider not to be material. She feels strongly about it and she doesn’t let go. She would work you up. I think I try to retain my cool, I don’t get to the point of throwing things or working out, I have never done that in 26 years and I don’t think I will ever do that, it is not in my nature, it is not in my character. Of course sometimes we get to the point of hot exchanges just for us to get the point across and I just think she is not listening, she thinks I am not listening. But the way I handle it is to just keep quiet and I know that she doesn’t want to stop so she would go on and on. Sometimes she would even come and wake me when I am sleeping and say ‘you have to listen and all of that.
Shade: It is his habit of staying glued to his BlackBerry that can be very annoying. I appreciate that his work is very demanding but all the same, I don’t like it that having stayed at work all day till early evening, he gets back home and starts again on his BB. I expect him to give me (us) sometime to chat, gist and discuss family issues.
Victor: Things always sort themselves out eventually, even if we get to the point where we don’t talk to each other, eventually we would because we sleep on the same bed. I am not the type of person who huddles up on my side of the bed with my back to my partner. I have to throw my arms around somehow, and the arms must touch her. At that point, all fights should end. So it is not possible for the fight to last for a long time.
Victor: You know she would normally look at some of the pictures I have taken at functions that I attend, if I am with a female in the picture, she would start scrutinizing the pictures and saying, why is this one like this and why is she standing like that? Then she would approach the matter like a counselor—‘you know, the way that woman is standing too close to you, that is not good for a man in your position. People will start having a different opinion of you. When she does this I laugh, if only she knew!
But I am a very principled person and I stick to a fundamental principle to do the right thing always. I believe it is absolutely wrong for anyone in a position of authority to take advantage of the opposite sex simply because they seek favour from your office, person or position. You must stay above board always, ignore the temptation and be professional in everything you do. These are very basic principles that will help re-shape our society and Nigeria will be a better place.
Shade: I have never really felt threatened by other women as such. That is not to say that I don’t have cause to ask questions every now and again especially when some things are not too clear to me. I reckon that his job and his position put him in the spotlight but I also trust his judgment not to take advantage of the situation.
What we can do is pray. You know you cannot tie a man down, at a point you would not be able to tie him any longer. So you learn to trust him and just let him be.
After 26 years of marriage, what is love to both of you?
Both: Love is about respect for one another. It is about being caring, doing things together, sharing the same Christian values and supporting one another. Our definition of love is very African in nature. We do not have to copy the west by being romantic as this is not consistent with our ‘Africaness’