Ex-OYO 1st Lady, Dr. Mrs. FLORENCE AJIMOBI’s 64th Birthday Interview…
Former Oyo First Lady, Dr (Mrs) Florence Ajimobi has said whatever woman she must have become today is as result of the strict disciplines instilled in her by her late husband, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the former governor of Oyo State. Saying that having married early at the age of 21 and living with her late husband for 40 solid years has had great positive impacts on her life and their children.
Mrs Ajimobi made this revelations penultimate Saturday while featuring on Mayor Isaac Brown’s radio programme called ‘Political Circuit’ on Fresh 105.9 FM, Ibadan. It was a special programme during which the former first lady was able to reflect on life and time of her late husband, as well as her own life at 64. How she has coped without Abiola Ajimobi in the last three years and her plans to sustain his legacies. It was quite interesting and revealing and emotional as Florence Ajimobi, like never before, deeply discussed both her private and public life. How God has been gracious to her, her family. Her early days as a young girl.
When she was asked about how they managed their home despite the fact that they both practiced different faiths; the husband a Muslim and wife a Christian.
Florence Ajimobi said: “ I think I will use one simple phrase for him. He was a very religious person. He met me as a Christian. Even though when we were dating he told me he was also a Christian. That he was an Altar Boy in St. Patrick. I was a strong catholic then and there was no way I could date a Muslim. My mum wouldn’t have allowed it. He was going to marriage counseling with me, you know when you want something. And 3 years into the marriage and when we were transfered to Ibadan, and his parents were in Ibadan. So his being a Christian was not going to work for him anymore and the guy said, Flory, I’m a Muslim. My parents are Muslims, I want to go back to practicing Islam. I said, how did we get here again? But you know my husband was somebody who allowed me to grow. He was the wings on which I flowed. I married him at 21. Whatever you think I am today, whatever you thing Florence Ajimobi has grown to be, he molded me. I couldn’t force my children to Church, that was my husband. He would tell me let them be. So he allowed me to be the person I wanted to be. He allowed me to grow to grow up to be the woman I wanted to be. And if he was going to correct me, he does it in such a way that I don’t feel bad about it. The only thing he told me is that, my parents are Muslims you can’t flaunt this Christianity in their presence. He drew the line, that is him. He would give you your freedom but he draws lines. Very firm, very strict, a disciplinarian. I know my boundaries with him too. But he allowed me to practice my faith. In fact, every 31st of December my husband would drop myself and the kids at church and still come back to pick us. And in my house, on my side of the bed there is Bible and on his own side we had Quran. That is why you will still see me indulge the Muslims. I can pray in Islamic way. I can’t imagine myself not fasting in this period of Ramadan. Even after he has left this world, I still practice all the things that my husband did”.
ON HER EARLY
LIFE AS A GROWING UP GIRL
“Early life for me was so beautiful, and like I tell people I was a love child. My parents never married. When am with my mum she wants to give me the best and when am with my dad I get pampered and spoilt to bit.” she said. Florence Ajimobi stated further that she however didn’t allow the circumstance she found herself deter what she wanted to become in life. Rather she turned what seemed to be disadvantage in her life to her advantage.
“For me, when a child didn’t grow with both parents you know there are lots of disadvantages. But I chose to use every disadvantage of the whole situation to my own advantage. And at the early stage I made up of my mind. I was very determined to be a successful girl and I thank God.
My mum had me when she was age 16. So you can imagine a baby having a baby. But even that as it may, she gave me the best. I went to Bodija International School under Mrs. Eso.
From there I went to Ibadan Polytechnic. But I was raised by a young girl. What does she know. So I decided that my home won’t be a broken home when I get married. Even before I got married I had unconditional love for the man I was going to get married to. So I think when I eventually married my husband, it helped me a lot. But I used everything that was a disadvantage to me to my advantage.
That is what I tell young girls whenever I meet them, if your mother is a pepper seller make sure you don’t end up that way. If your mother hawks make sure you don’t end up that way. So, every disadvantage of ours we should try and use it positively to our own advantage. I had a great childhood. I went to the best schools. I had the maids at my beck and call. So, everything that is good of life, I had it as a child.”
HOW THE ESOS POSITIVELY INFLUENCED HER LIFE AND MARRIAGE?
If you are talking of role model, Mrs. Eso was not just a mother to me but a mother I was always looking up to and I wanted to be like when I grow up. They had an amazing relationship. I mean when we hear the hoot of the car of Justice Kayode Eso, it’s 5 o’clock. He gets home everyday at 5.
They have dinner together on the table. When he gets back from work he hugs his wife, gives her a peck on the cheeks. And you know for me I looked at that. But unfortunately I got married to an Ibadan man that didn’t believe in all that. When we got married and I said when you get back from work you peck me. He said haha, peck for what? Please I don’t have time for all that. But you know women, we can influence in our own little way, in a very subtle way. Because you can’t control an Ibadan man, that much I know. But I had my way, he is my husband so I know when to press the buttons. Eventually he ended up to be more romantic than I was. That is the truth. We kiss, we hug, even when he wants to go out as Mr. Governor. I see him off to the car and he gives me a hug and peck. And that is my husband, an Ibadan man. So, the Esos had a great influence on me. They were an amazing couple, very loving, very caring. They showed me much love. And whatever you think the little girl has become, the young girl Abiola Ajimobi married was the product of Justice and Mrs. Kayode Eso of the blessed memories. I just pray that their beautiful and kind souls continue to rest in peace.
THE EXCITEMENTS AND PAINS OF MEETING HER FATHER FOR THE FIRST TIME AT AGE 6
“You know I said my mum had me at age 16, they were both dating. For those that don’t know my father of the blessed memory was a Lebanese and my mum, a Nigerian from Delta State. The two were in love and when my father’s parents got to know about the relationship and he told them the young girl he was dating got pregnant, they were against it. I’m from a very famous and rich family, the Hajaig family. So for those who think I married a governor, I am from wealthy home and I’m proud to say that. If you go to Lebanon Street and ask of Hajaig family. I lived on number 26, Lebanon Street for so many years and nobody there wouldn’t know my family. Adedibu of the blessed memory, Arisekola they have all benefited from my family. So am from famous and rich family. So, my grandparents said no and they were able to pull their faith down. My father had to break my mum’s heart and she was bitter about it.
For six years I never set my eyes on him. But you know as a child I started asking questions. So my mum agreed to take me to my father but doesn’t want to be involved. She took me to Lebanon Street and there is this store, Enquires. That I should just go in and once my father sees me he would know I’m his daughter. She just dropped me at the entrance of the store and I walked in. My father was sitting on a chair and immediately he saw me he started crying and he came and hugged me. We took the relationship from there but my mum was bitter. You know she was a young girl when she got pregnant. She had to stop school and all that. So she was very bitter towards him. I could understand that. She has her own right to be upset but the guy too was helpless. There is nothing he could do. He was a young guy too, 20 years plus. And his parents, because of their background, had a great influence on him. He did apologize but my mum didn’t forgive him. Because she felt it was a stigma. You know in those days if you have a child at such age, it is somehow a stigma on you. It makes the whole thing looks like you are wayward or something. Though she eventually got married to her husband of the blessed memory. They had six children together. But she held it against my dad but I still don’t blame her. That was how I met my dad at the age 6. And we became inseparable from there. But he wasn’t allowed into her home. Whenever he wants to see me, he packs his car outside, looks for someone to call me out. Then we go to UTC, he takes me out a lot, we have good time and he brings me back. But he was never allowed to come into my home. Because my mum didn’t want anything that would mar her marriage. She felt she was lucky to have a man to accept me. So she was being careful but look at me today.”
Of course Florence Ajimobi made her marriage work and she enjoyed every bit of it till her husband died in year 2020. That was what she had wanted and fervently prayed for in life, and that is exactly what she got. But it wasn’t that easy, especially the family factor and nationality.
“Initially it wasn’t the stature or age, it was the ‘oyinbo’ thing that was the problem. You know you are dating a smallish girl and their brother just cane back from America. He came back in 1977 and we got married in 1980. So where did she come from?”
I think that was destiny for me because the first time I met my husband was January 1980, that was in the bank. I was working in Femi Johnson, he was working in National Oil then. That was Union Bank. I walked in and this America guy in suit, very meticulous and tush, and with perfume all over the place, Aramis Delvin was just blowing my nose, just walked up to me said I just spoke with a lady who happens to be his aunty, that who is she to me? I just felt that is maybe American style, me am an Ibadan girl because I lived all my life in Ibadan. I only went to Lagos when I finished at Ibadan Poly. I got employed by Femi Johnson from school. He employed the best 5 from my department. I said if she is your aunty why don’t you go and ask her who am I to her? I felt that was a bit cheeky. I think he felt offended but he didn’t say anything.
He left and we never met again until April of that year. I was going for launch, I was walking from my own office to Leventis, which was about 3 blocks away from his own office. Immediately I got to the front of his office it started drizzling and the same young man was in suit again, handsome though. He walked out and said do you want an umbrella, it was drizzling and I had my hair. I said oh yes, thanks. I looked again and it was the same guy again. He said where are you going? I said Leventis. He said that is where he was going, which wasn’t true. He said he lied. So we went for the lunch, one thing led to other and we became friends. We dated for just seven months, we met in April and got married in November same year. We dated for just seven months, we lived happily together for 40 years.Dare Adeniran (City people Magazine)
•Dare Adeniran (City people Magazine)