As the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and his beloved wife, Dolapo mark their 30th wedding anniversary, Yinka Olatunbosun reflects on how their individual personalities and attributes, especially that of the family head, contributed to their heart-warming love story
Anyone that grew up in the 70s and 80s will be familiar with the television comedy series, ‘The Love Boat’ and many classic love songs that celebrated everlasting love. It was about that period, precisely in 1989, that the duo of Yemi and Dolapo Osinbajo became a couple. Since then, till present day, divorce rates have soared globally, making love-lasting marriages particularly newsworthy. But for Yemi and Dolapo, it has been 30 years of heavenly marriage. On the anniversary day last Monday, Dolapo shared a throwback photo from their wedding day and wrote: “Hand in hand on the 25th November 1989. It is our 30th wedding anniversary to the glory of God. #WeddingAnniversary #ByGodsGrace.”
Both had roots in Ikenne, the hometown of one of the foremost nationalists in Nigeria’s independence era and the first Premier of the Wester n Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
As a matter of fact, Dolapo is a grand-daughter of the late Awolowo. Yemi Osinbajo’s brother, Pastor Akin Osinbajo, who was the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Ogun State between 2003 and 2011, would later reveal in an interview published online that the Osinbajos are actually Awolowos’ cousins.
Cousins or not, the love story of the two lawyers, Yemi and Dolapo is deeply fascinating. There are quite a lot of lessons to learn from their love story. As a screenwriter in the television series, ‘Desperate Housewives’ once wrote, “the only perfect couples are the ones you find standing on the wedding cake; they don’t look at each other.” Hence like many marriages, theirs would have experienced some difficult moments but you can’t find a proof of that anywhere because they have kept the marital affairs away from public glare.
On the one hand, Yemi, the family head, always seems to wear a permanent smile on his face. The loving father of three biological children – Damilola, Kanyinsola and Fiyinfoluwa, was like a father to many students who had known him as a lecturer in the university days. Back then at the University of Lagos, he was always surrounded by students who were either seeking his advice or having some wit-sharpening conversations or simply just teasing him. Yes, he was that approachable. That attribute might have helped in building a strong relationship with his wife and children.
Osinbajo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a Professor of Law, is no doubt an intelligent man. As a family head, saddled with the crucial responsibility to make important decisions in the home, this is a non-negotiable attribute. Having schooled at Corona Primary School in Lagos and Igbobi College, Yaba, his records proved his ilk.
He was the winner of the State Merit Award (1971); the School Prize for English Oratory (1972); Adeoba Prize for English Oratory (1972-1975); Elias Prize for Best Performance in History (WASC, 1973); School Prize for Literature (HSC, 1975); and African Statesman Intercollegiate Best Speaker’s Prize (1974) From 1997 to 1999 he was made Professor of Law and Head of Department of Public Law, University of Lagos. From 1999 to 2007, Osinbajo was Member of Cabinet, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, also Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. From 2007 to 2013, Osinbajo was once again employed as a Professor of Law, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. In 2007, Osinbajo was made Senior Partner, Simmons Cooper Partners (Barristers and Solicitors), Nigeria. Osinbajo was also a Senior lecturer at the Lagos State University.
Osinbajo is also very firm. In this era where many women are too glad to be the ‘neck that turns the head’, it is a good virtue for the men to be firm, not stubborn or too lay-back in taking tough but goal-oriented decisions. A case in point was recorded on 7 August 2018, when Osinbajo fired the State Security Service boss, Lawal Daura for illegal invasion of National Assembly by armed and masked operatives of the department. He was subsequently replaced by Matthew Seiyefa.
On the other hand, Dolapo, born on July 15, 1967 was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1990, a year after her wedding. She is an example of a simple woman of substance. A writer, Yahaha Balogun once wrote about her contribution to the happy home: “If you see a family, or a man in a house dwelling in the euphoria of love and happiness, please, do not hesitate to give unblemished accolades and praises to the woman (manager) in the house for a job well done. Our loveable Vice President is a happy man with every simplicity he represents. She’s a well-cultured woman, very respectful, faithful, loyal and friendly to everyone she comes across.” Pictures of her kneeling down to greet elderly ones are on the internet. It’s no mere show; it is more like a die-hard habit.
Then again, the Vice President never misses the opportunity to acknowledge publicly the loving support of his wife. For instance, he showered praises on his wife, Dolapo as he was sworn in for a second term in office. On his verified Twitter handle, Osinbajo shared a photo of himself and wife, looking into each other’s eyes and thanked her for standing by him in the last four years. He also told Dolapo that he was ready for the next four years of service with her by his side.
He wrote a public love letter: “My dear Dolapo, Thank you for years past. Thank you especially for the last four years, You are my rock. And with you by my side, I am ready for the next four years of service.” Kind words always reinvigorate marriages.
Mutual respect also characterised the journey for Yemi and Dolapo. There is no report of one talking down the other anywhere and that is imitable.
Loyalty plays a big part in lasting marriages. Whether at work or in the home, loyalty is a quality that is never overrated nor does it escape the notice of people to whom it matters. One can recall how the Emir of Daura, Faruk Umar described Osinbajo as “the most trustworthy Vice President of Nigeria” and thanked him for his loyalty to President Buhari’s administration. The Emir gave him the title of Danmadamin Daura, the highest traditional title in the emirate. Being loyal even to the wife of one’s youth is a rare find now that having a side chick or babymama has become more fashionable than ever.
Resting the pillar of the union in God is considered as the most important thing for many Christians who value prayers, scriptural counsel and principles. Osinbajo won’t be caught with a wedding ring because he thinks the bible itself constitutes the symbol of holy marriages.