Last week, Mrs. Funso Amosun, wife of Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun, joined the golden club as she clocked 50. In an interview, she recounted her growing up days, her marriage and how God has been good to her, writes Tokunbo Adedoja
Mrs. Funsho Amosun
She had just returned from an early morning walk. Donning a white vest on smart joggers and a pair of trainers, she walked briskly into the reception area of the building, which had been her abode in the past five years, with about three ladies and the state commissioner for information, Dayo Adeneye, in tow. Just as she was about to enter the hallway, she noticed there were a few unknown faces sitting on a row of chairs. She paused, then gazed at the strange faces in a way suggesting she was wondering who they were. Her media aide, Idowu Sowumi, quickly whispered in her ears: “These are the journalists for the interview.”
“Oh! I am not yet dressed. Please pretend you didn’t see me,” she responded with a welcoming smile as she made her way into an adjacent room.
That was when it dawned on the visitors that that was Olufunke Comfort Amosun, wife of Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun. The portrait they had in their minds was that of a lady dressed in a colourful Yoruba attire with neatly tied headgear. There she was unassuming and without any obscene display of power and influence usually exhibited by women of her status. Her appearance was simple, her disposition friendly and she was humble in all ramifications.
It would, however, take another two hours before she reappeared after the initial encounter. During the 120 minutes interval, her beautician was busy preparing her for the camera already positioned in one of the expansive rooms at the Government House, Isale Igbein, Abeokuta, where the interview took place.
After apologies from her aides, she was set to field questions from journalists who had been waiting patiently. The first question was thrown at her and that had to do with how she felt at 50. Her response was quick and brief. “It’s a milestone because not everybody attains that age,” she said in a low voice. She was thankful to God for giving her the opportunity to achieve that but quickly added that she had been 50 in her mind for so many years.
“Aside from that, I think I have been 50 in my mind for so many years and using it as an excuse for my children saying be gentle, you know when you are approaching 50… So, I think I have done the 50 thing many times over. But the reality is that officially I am turning 50,” she said.
Even though she didn’t look 50, she viewed such comments as compliments and would quickly add that she has a birth certificate to prove her age.
Clocking 50 is seen as a milestone, but Funso doubts if anything would change about her as she had always been herself. She however agreed that attaining that age makes one to become more reflective.
“You will realise that it is actually a privilege to be able to attain a golden age. Your perspective to life changes. I guess that things that might not be so important to you start becoming important, like issues of health. I don’t think I am there yet. I haven’t started worrying that my physical strength may be failing and things like that. You start to be emotionally more reflective that this is the second half by God’s grace.”
Reflecting on her life, Funso was thankful to God for the grace he has given her, the opportunities and the privileges. “I am just realising that more and more … I realise that God has been kind to me, even in terms of husband, lovely children, I mean, I can’t just count my blessings,” she said.
Born on May 2, 1966 into the family of Bishop Michael Ayoade Odesanya and Elder Olusola Odesanya, she did part of her primary school education in the United Kingdom and also went to Ayodele Nursery and Primary School in Iyakangu, Ibadan from where she proceeded to Yejide Girls Grammar School. She attended Oyo State School of Arts and Science and the University of Ife (now OAU), where she studied English Education. She met a young accountant, Ibikunle, who owned an accounting firm, fell in love with him and the rest is now history. They have been married for 25 years and their marriage is blessed with lovely children – four girls and a boy.
No doubt God has been gracious to her. She made choices along the way which could have set her on a different path from where she is today had those choices been different. One of such choices is Ibikunle Amosun. Coming from a Christain background with a father that was a bishop and a mother who is an elder in the church, getting married to a Muslim shouldn’t have been an option for her. But love made that her first and only option. For long, she agonised over how she would have to break this unexpected news to her parents, and like most girls would do, her mother was the first to be informed.
“My mother is still an elder and my sister is a pastor in one of the Redeemed churches. The first time I told my mum that I would want to get married to a Muslim, of course, she burst into tears. She asked me whether I told my dad and I said no, and I could see that mischievous smile… very good. But today, my mother and my husband are the best of friends. To the glory of God, that sort of worked itself out. When I told my dad, he said, OK, we just have to pray about this one. Somehow, they hit it off very well.”
She has embraced her husband’s religion and now prays the Muslim way. But in the beginning, it wasn’t like that. She prayed according to her own religion until her children began to ask questions about their parents’ faith. “Because we are a closely-knit family, I would tell my children it’s time to pray and the children would wonder why I would not pray with them and they began to ask ‘does it mean that daddy’s God is not a good God?’ My children were confused and I joined them and we pray the Muslim way”.
Looking back, she sees the hand of God in the choices she made, particularly in terms of marriage. “There could have been mistakes. I have been lucky and I know I have been lucky. But it is the grace of God. I can’t recall any moment like that. But I know I can recall several times when I look back and say, oh! that is the grace of God. Take for instance, my genotype is AS and my husband is AA and we got married at the time people didn’t really find out about genotype. What if my husband was SS? That is a practical example of how God has been kind to me.”
For her, marriage has been a bed of roses and there are no regrets. “I do not recollect any moment of sorrow. Sometimes I do get worried that everything is so smooth but I guess that is God’s plan for me,” she said, adding, “I walked in and God perfected it. When I look back, I realise that I could have made a mistake.”
She could not recount all the memorable moments of the past 25 years because “everyday is different.” Using superlative terms to describe her spouse, Funso said her husband “is the most loving, practical and responsible kind of husband that anybody could ask for.”
“My husband is just so real. My husband will say I don’t believe in flowers, I don’t believe in saying I love you. But what do they say? Actions speaks louder than words,” she said, singling out the fact that he is dependable as one key thing she likes about him.
Even though public officeholders and their spouses are denied their privacy by the crowd around them, she doesn’t believe she is missing anything being the wife of a governor. Having people around because of her current status isn’t a problem as that has always been part of her life since she got married to Ibikunle. Before becoming the wife of the governor, she was the wife of a senator, and before that she was the wife of a chartered accountant. Interestingly, her husband had always been a people’s man even in those days when he had not joined politics and was just a player in the private sector.
Going down memory lane, she recalled that in those days after waking up in the morning and he (her husband) found out that there were no visitors, he would say: “Oh! there is nobody, should we go and visit people?” And she will say, “can’t we just spend the day together? He would say: Olorun ma se wa ni awanikan o (may God not make us to be alone). So, we have always had people around us and I think that sort of made it easy for me to integrate into this role because I am not doing anything that I don’t normally have to do as the wife of Ibikunle Amosun, whether it is wife of Senator Ibukunle Amosun or Governor Ibikunle Amosun, you will always have to cater to people, you always know that people are going to troop into your house and you just have to be a good hostess.”
“I would have said I don’t like not being able to be myself. I am myself. I would have said I don’t like the fact that I always have a life shadow around me, I have always had people around me, but maybe being a second term, the people around me have come to realise that I am my own person and they can’t be following me around even if it is their duty.
“I think now I like being the wife of the governor, especially to the glory of God, and I say this with all sense of responsibility, my husband has done a good job as a governor and I feel proud to raise my head as his wife in view of the circumstances in Nigeria. To the best of my husband’s abilities, he has fulfilled his promises,” she said while giving him thumbs up for piloting the affairs of the state excellently in the past five years.
Funso had always known that her husband would have an opportunity to impact peoples’ lives positively because he had always been a natural leader, even within his family. But she had no hunch he would go as far as governing a state.
Having spent five years in the Ogun State Government House, she has nothing but praises for him for changing the face of the state and making an impact in the lives of the people.
She believes the key attributes of her husband – love, high sense of responsibility, dependability, etc. – have helped in his selfless service to the people. “I don’t want a man who is so sophisticated. My husband is in tune with reality,” she added
Olufunso is however complementing her husband with her UPLIFT (an acronym for Understanding Peoples Limiting and Inhibiting Factors Today) Development Foundation. The foundation, which she describes as an intervention tool, lends assistance to the needy in anyway it can. She does not see it as a pet project but rather, a platform for reaching out to the vulnerable.
When asked what she shares in common with her husband, she said, “I think after 25 years, the question is what are the things we don’t share in common. I found that opposite seems to attract. While he is a hands on person, he wouldn’t mind jumping into a crowd, I sort of do it by delegating…. However, after 25 years, I don’t even see where the lines are anymore. I believe that we are one and the same, we complement one another… I don’t think we have ever slept on an argument because he won’t let you anyway. Even if you are annoyed, even if he upsets you, he will speak to you.”
Funso dresses nicely but she would not agree she has a fashion side. She believes any attire that is comfortable is just good. “To be honest, without playing a pun on my name, because my name is Comfort, comfort comes first. If a certain outfit isn’t comfortable, I am not wearing it. But truly for me it is about being comfortable in what I wear.”
With three years to the end of her husband’s tenure, she has no plan of her own to be relevant in politics as wives of some former governors are currently doing by seeking elective offices. Her prayer is to continue to be the wife of Ibikunle, who she believes would continue to be active in politics.
“I don’t have any plans, just as I have always said, I pray that I will always be my husband’s wife and that man is always going to be active by God’s grace, he shall not have any health challenges. I always wish to be beside him and I have no intention of being in front of him,” she said.