There are women and there are special women, who have been backbone to greatest men in the world, Senator Oluremi Tinubu is one those special breeds.
Being married to Nigeria’s busiest and most successful politician of all time; is not a walk in the park but Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, the Senator representing Lagos Central Senatorial District, knows and wears this crown effortlessly. Since their marriage in the mid-80s, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has metamorphosed from a corporate titan to a Senator of the Federal Republic, a two-term Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressives Congress. Through this storied trajectory, mutual love and understanding of each other have kept them afloat.
Urbane, successful and young, bespectacled Bola Tinubu was a lady’s man by every ramification. Add to the fact that he was educated abroad and was on the rise as a top executive of Mobil Producing Nigeria, playing the field would have been excused. But not for the young man whose role in entrenching and enthroning a democratic Nigeria is now the stuff of legends. Bola was enamoured by doe-eyed, drop-dead beautiful Oluremi at first sight.
In a dated interview, he confessed, “Until I met her, I didn’t even want to be married because I loved my freedom. I had also been disappointed along the line, my expectations dashed. I was going to be totally free before I met Remi. She was innocent, homely and very quiet. I was surprised by her manners and I was hooked.” He continued, “I was a DJ to my friends. I love music and my house was a boys’ rendezvous. Remi used to cook for all of us. She is the best woman I ever met and fully endorsed by all my friends. They were very close. My friends said: ‘Bola, you now have a woman and you have to settle down.’ I was a successful corporate person. She is totally urbane and seriously committed to my professionalism and career. I met somebody who enhanced the value of my life.”
Tracing the genesis of their relationship and how they met, Senator Oluremi recalled in a separate interview, “It was my sister who introduced me to him. He was a friend to the family even before he travelled abroad. Then, I had already graduated from the university and had started working. My sister became worried that I was always keeping to myself; I am naturally not an outgoing or sociable person. I love fashion and love to dress well. She match-made the two of us and we didn’t really have a long courtship before we married. I realised that it was a relationship that required seriousness and not one to play around with. For me, it is either a relationship is working from the beginning or not. He saw me and thought that I was a wife material. I was interested, too, and realised that he had a good job.”
When asked what the initial attraction was between them, she said, “I saw his eyes and thought he has very kind eyes. That was one of the things that attracted me to him. I believe that from the eyes, one can know the mind of a person. I think he got me with his eyes; they were very kind and penetrating eyes and that was how we started. He was serious about his job and had lofty plans about the future. He didn’t say things you would hear from most guys when he met me. He just said: ‘I don’t have a lot of money, but I love to help people.’ So I thought that we had to cut the chase and was ready to settle down for the real business. I just thought that somebody was trying to introduce me to a journey and I concluded that it was a journey I wanted to be part of.”
Born into an Anglican family but married to a staunch Moslem, Senator Oluremi, who was recently ordained a pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, said the only thing her father requested of her spouse when they met was not to stop her from being a Christian. Thankfully, she said being married to Tinubu has made her a better Christian.
The youngest of 12 children, Mrs Tinubu graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) and a National Certificate of Education in Botany and Zoology from the Adeyemi College of Education.
She became the First Lady of Lagos State when her husband was sworn in as governor in May 1999. During this period, she founded the New Era Foundation; a non-profit organisation, dedicated to youth development, girl-child education, women empowerment and inspiring young persons to excellence. She also launched the Annual Spelling Bee competition to raise educational standards, which gave birth to the Annual One-Day Governor programme.
In 2011, she contested for and won the Senatorial seat for Lagos Central on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). She sought re-election in 2015 and won. This time, it was on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Mrs Tinubu is in her third term as a Senator and chairs the Senate Committee on the Environment.