Though the next presidential election is still about a year away, the major political parties in the country have chosen their flagbearers, and barring any shocker, it is almost certain that the next President of the country will either be Bola Tinubu (APC), Atiku Abubakar (PDP), Peter Obi (LP) or Rabiu Kwankwaso (NNPP). In this piece, TOFARATI IGE profiles the wives of the aforementioned presidential candidates, one of whom is likely to be the country’s next First Lady
Before May 29, 1999, nothing much was known about Oluremi Tinubu except the fact that she was the wife of the then Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu.
However, those involved in the struggle for the return of democratic system of governance in the country between 1993 and 1999 surely knew about Remi before then. According to some of them, as her husband supported the ‘struggle’ with funds and other resources, Remi made sure that the pro-democracy activists never went hungry when they came for meetings in their home.
As the First Lady of Lagos State, Oluremi was a dependable ally to her husband, as she offered him moral and emotional support to succeed at the helm of affairs in the country’s commercial nerve centre.
During her husband’s tenure, she established the New Era Foundation, through which she championed the ‘all round development of young ones and promoted public awareness on environmental health and community service’.
A pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Oluremi obtained a post-graduate diploma from the RCCG’s Bible college.
In 2011, she was elected to represent the Lagos Central Senatorial District at the Senate, and is presently in her third term. As a Senator, some of her notable contributions include proposing a bill to reform the Nigerian Postal Service.
Describing her husband as being bold and courageous in an interview with PM News, she said, “As a man, he is very courageous and hard-working. He is also very loyal to his friends and (is) always ready to sacrifice himself for others. We have been through different things in life, which we grew and adjusted to. He knew what he wanted from the beginning, but I had a different picture of things when we got married. But, as time went by, I was compelled to adapt. It took a while for me to adjust because my concept of marriage and expectations were high, but with time, I was able to settle down and understand what marriage was all about. I wrote about my early experience in marriage in the coffee table book I wrote some time ago. He later became my best friend. I love him a lot, and I think he loves me too. If he did not, we would not have come this far. So, the feeling is mutual. I respect him and can call him a good provider. He loves himself and his family. I have come to understand that love is a basic ingredient in a marriage and the moment I started understanding the concept of love, I began to understand more what living together entails. With him, I have found the love of God and the concept of love in its totality. I can also say I have found a place of rest and fulfilment. He is not a man that complains and he has a huge heart for forgiveness.”
Asked whether she fell in love with him at first sight, she said in the interview, “The first thing to know is the attraction that brought the two of us together. I saw his eyes and thought he had 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 did not 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’.”
Born and raised in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Remi was the last of 12 children.
She went on to bag a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). This was in addition to bagging a National Certificate of Education in Botany and Zoology from the Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo State.
When Titi Atiku-Abubakar (nee Albert) first met Atiku Abubakar as a Customs officer many years ago, she probably never imagined that he would rise to such great heights in his political career.
However, over the years, Atiku became heavily involved in politics and rose to become the number two citizen in the country between 1999 and 2007.
Though she is not Atiku’s only wife, she has always been one of his biggest supporters. During campaigns, she usually goes with her husband and sometimes on her own to persuade the electorate to choose her hubby at the ballot.
On different occasions, Atiku has spoken glowingly about how Titi has always stood by him and supported him in all his endeavours.
In the early days of her husband’s tenure as Vice President in 1999, Titi established the Women Trafficking and Child Eradication Foundation. According to her, she created the foundation because of her passion to protect children and women. In an interview with Sunday PUNCH, she said, “I set up WOTCLEF based on my passion to protect children, women and the vulnerable in our society. I remember that as a lecturer at the Kaduna Polytechnic in 1986, I went for post-graduate studies in Italy. While there, I saw many Nigerian girls on the streets of Rome. As a mother, I started asking questions about what the girls were doing on the streets. I was told that there were some unscrupulous Nigerians who facilitated travelling documents for those girls and took them abroad. I was told that before their journey, they would make the girls go through some rituals where they would be told that all the money they would make abroad would be for the ‘madams’ and that if they disclosed the identities of their sponsors, they would die. I was told that the girls were made to serve these madams for as much as 10 years before they could regain their freedom. As a mother, I was moved when I heard this. I then told myself that any time I found myself in a position of authority, I would help such children. That was what inspired me to form WOTCLEF. Immediately after my husband was inaugurated as the Vice President in May 1999, I remembered that I had a covenant with God. I immediately swung into action by calling on spirited people such as governors’ wives, local government chairmen, members of civil society organisations and security people among others to a meeting. At the end of the day, many claimed they had not heard about human trafficking before. Immediately, we held a three-day workshop, and they started repatriating our girls to Nigeria. The first set of girls that were sent back were about 70 and they were accompanied by 140 policemen because they were very reluctant and did not want to come home. When they came, I promised to give them succour. Some of them tested positive to HIV, while others had different kinds of sexually transmitted diseases. They stayed with me in the presidential villa and I put them through school up to the university level. Many became went on to become employers of labour because they were taught skills while others were enrolled in school.”
So pleased was her family with her marriage to Atiku that Titi stated that her mother was willing to give all her daughters to the former Vice President.
According to her, her mum initially kicked against the idea of her marrying Atiku, but later changed her mind about him. In an interview with Sunday PUNCH, Titi said, “My mum warned me not to marry from Gongola (now Adamawa State). There was nothing she did not say to discourage me. She was even going from house to house in Lagos, begging people to advise me not to marry a Hausa man, but I was already in love. So, I agreed with him that we should go to the registry. My mother saw me dressing up preparatory to my going out and she asked me where I was going. I lied that a friend of mine was getting married and I wanted to attend. That was how we got to the registry and signed on the dotted line in 1971. The day my mother got to know, it was a tug of war. She sent for my sister immediately and they both threatened to slaughter me. At the end of the day, they (she and Atiku) became friends. My mother later told my husband that if she had 10 daughters, she could give all of them to him to marry because he fulfilled all the promises he made to me. He sent me to school and took care of my mother when she stayed with us in Kaduna State after I had my second son.”
Margaret Usen (Obi)
To say that Peter Obi, a former Governor of Anambra State, has been garnering a lot of support from Nigerians, especially the youth, amounts to stating the obvious.
Based on the quality of his stewardship while he was a governor, many youths have been actively campaigning for him on social media. So massive is the support that some have likened it to the #EndSARS movement of 2020. Known for his prudent management of resources as a governor, many have opined that he is the right person to lift Nigeria from the abyss of massive debts the country is currently wallowing in.
However, what many do not know is that there is a woman in Obi’s life who has been supporting him both in the home front, as well as in his business and political careers. That woman is Margaret, who he got married to in 1992. Together, they have two children— Gabriella and Gregory.
A native of Akwa Ibom State, Margaret (nee Usen) did a lot to support her husband during his time as governor. She is said to have been instrumental to her husband’s National Affirmative Gender Action, which canvassed for 50 per cent of employment slots to be given to women in his government.
She is also said to have been one of the brains behind the establishment of family courts in the state’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development to ‘deal with issues of child abuse and violation of women’s rights, especially widows, who are often mistreated after the demise of their husbands.
Stylish and classy, yet modest, Margaret is one beautiful woman who can hardly go unnoticed at any gathering because of her calm demeanour. Despite her husband’s ‘legendary’ frugality, Margaret doesn’t hold back when it comes to looking good. Her love for choice jewellery complements her style, which is exotic but not ostentatious.
In 2017, their marriage was reported to be going through troubled times and was on the verge of crashing but Margaret came out to debunk the rumours. At the time, she told journalists, “I received a lot of messages as I turned on my phone after I came out of church. I had worshipped at Our Lady of Assumption, Ikoyi (Lagos) with my husband.
“Why should I think along that line when I have no problem with my husband? I am happily married and I have no reason to contemplate divorce.
“The family is the basic cell in society. Once it is threatened, the entire society will be affected.”
A former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, is undoubtedly a grassroots politician who is loved by his people, especially in the northern part of the country.
Though not much is known about his wife, Salamatu, there is no doubt that she has always been a pillar of support for him. They reportedly got married in 2000, a year into his first tenure as the Governor of Kano State.
Reserved yet strong-willed, Salamatu lends credence to the saying in some quarters that there is no limit to how far a man can go if he has a dutiful and supportive wife. Though she does not crave the limelight, she is known to often offer advice to her husband, especially as regards positively impacting the lives of the common man.
She is also believed to be very active in her husband’s Kwankwasiyya Development Foundation, which provides scholarships to indigent students and empowers the underprivileged, especially women and children.
On her own, she also supports women and children by sponsoring the education of many and empowering women to learn skills that will help them make money and contribute positively to the development of society.
She is also said to have been one of the people who encouraged her husband to introduce free feeding for primary school students, as well as a free natal programme for pregnant women in Kano State.