By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
From the first day I noticed that my first serious male friend in the profession was going out with one of his female colleagues, I had harboured a disdain for office romance that goes beyond the usual flings and tumbles now and again. It didn’t make sense to me that one could sign off to share the rest of his life with a partner who not only does your type of job, but works in the same establishment. I was certain, and few instances had confirmed my stance, that such a union can only last as long as the woman waters the marriage with a huge dose of African evostic (voodoo or more precisely, juju). I couldn’t fathom how anyone would be expected to be normal if you share your bed, home, leisure, and then your office, with your wife…I was certain, one of us would be found dead…of accidental strangulation (most likely orchestrated from the dream world).
I know, because of the sedentary nature of some professions; especially if success is measured by the investment of personal passion and commitment to quality service, people in such “enclosure” usually marry each other. Loved ones outside of a particular profession may find the demand and sacrifice of such a profession strange and unacceptable; thereby breeding resentment and disaffection. So, often, it naturally follows that doctors, journalists, lecturers/teachers, missionaries, entertainers, and similar vocations with such creative or illustrative intensity, have a high incidence of intra-disciplinary wed-locks.
Even when this is so, a lot of people will readily agree that such marriages would likely survive only if couples work in different locations, and meet up at the end of the day to cross notes and responses on happenstances of the hectic day. But, to work on the same set, same project, same journal, clinic or parish is stretching too far the dictum: ‘What God has joined together, let no man (a.k.a. work) put asunder’. The modern man will likely be suffocated by such relentless proximity that he is wont to snap, now and again; and it will be difficult to blame either of the parties for the predictable tension, and possible collapse such a marriage would go through.
Apart from sundry items of admonitions necessary for would-be couples, there are very sensitive issues that are best glossed over at the onset of the relationship. As the union undergoes stress-tests and other inevitable “disclosure/shocks”, it is vital that the husband and wife have brief “absences” from each other (going to work in different cars; romantic salutations on arrivals from work; phone-checks couched as “just to say I love you’’ sweet-nothings, etc).
What man is there who has the opportunity and the good fortune of being young, upwardly mobile, ambitious… and the graces granted only a few, and would refuse to stray far from wide-eyed co-combatants whose circle of influence shares borders with him? That was why when I got married more than (28) years ago, I followed scrupulously my long-held persuasion: Don’t marry your colleague, and work on the same spot!
Don’t get me wrong; I was not a party to the idea that because you have your life stretched well ahead of you, what you then need is a woman who will fill certain spaces in your house: the kitchen (to cook meals which may not rival the club’s bukateria); the bedroom (to produce your children); lounge area (to welcome unwanted guests). Such a woman will crash your dreams and suffocate your ambition. You’ll probably end up in each other’s throat.
Today, I have since changed my position, without any shame. This is the 22nd year of working together with my wife, and loving every part of it. In the next article(s), we will discuss the twists and turns. It will be crass tomfoolery to insinuate that it has always been heavenly. No, it hasn’t; but now, I won’t want it another way. We’ll share why (some) men miss it when they want space between them and their women, among other issues.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Dealing with Long-Throat Ex-Govs
Well, call me any name you wish…the news coming out of Zamfara State “dey sweet my belle”. And my prayer is that more states should follow in quick steps, and rub this particular shame out of our overload of self-inflicted moral and ethical diminution.
We have been informed that the response to the shameless reminder of Zamfara’s former governor, Abdulaziz Yari that he had not been paid his N10m monthly allowance was met by a checkmate move from the Zamfara State House of Assembly few days ago. The legislators repealed the mindless law which basically legitimatised the jungle ambush of the common purse for the humongous benefits of former governors, their deputies and spouses.
The Nasiru Mu’azu Magarya-led house of assembly masterminded a fast tracking of the counter-bill which flew through the legislative process within 24 hours, and by the close of plenary, it was ready for the governor’s assent.
May such “surgical exercise” be the portion of similar irresponsible and thieving legislations enacted in Lagos, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, and other states where obsequious and spineless legislators have opened the legs of our states for outgoing governors to rape and plunder without mercy.
No Rest for The Wicked
There is no rest for the wicked, says the holy book. Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja seems to be in total sync with this saying. The judge, who appears not enamoured by controversies, has assured Abdulrasheed Maina, chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTM) that he could be admitted to bail as soon as the sum of N1 billion is “deposited” with the Court’s Registrar. That’s not all. The killer punch is for the man accused of filching and laundering several billions of naira belonging to long-suffering and marginalised Nigerian civil servants, to produce two sureties, who must not only be serving senators, but must not be facing any criminal matter anywhere in Nigeria! Searching for pin in a haystack? That is what you get when you offend the gods of public service.
This “eye-for-an-eye” judicial uppercut reminds me of the unending matter of former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, who was asked by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, also of Abuja High Court, to produce as surety a level 16 civil servant with a landed property worth at least N100m in FCT; placed on a N200m bail, with N100m deposited in the Court’s account; and evidence of tax payment between 2015-2017 (same period as his detention). The heart of man…!
Of course, it is a shorthand for indefinite incarceration because such a civil servant may spend the rest of his service in prison alongside his surety when he is asked to explain the source of his wealth that could accommodate a N100m investment. Rightly or not, there is no peace of mind for the wicked, and their chorus-singers.