• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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BusinessDay

Tits-bits from the rooftop

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A cool breezy evening it was a few years ago when I was invited by a close pal to one of those ‘coded’ top functionary dinners on the Island. You don’t want to know the venue, do you? I just said it’s coded, so permit me to leave the venue out of my gist. There was a lot of razzmatazz, as expected, because of the calibre of people who graced the occasion. Early arrivals that we were, the party was barely started when we got there. A nice venue, I must tell you, very secluded indeed.

I took a seat in the waiting area while my friend was busy with his razzmatazz of taking pictures and meeting people before the party kicked off. As I sat down to absorb every detail of the scenarios unfolding before me, just then the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, walked in with his wife, Remi. I wasn’t surprised to see them, but what came to my mind was the rumour which made the rounds while they were in office that Remi was Bola’s official wife and that their contract would be terminated immediately they left office! What a rumour, you’d say. She looked relaxed in his company and she chatted with Grace Alele-Williams and later the wife of the Oba of Lagos.

Since I sat close to them, I was let in into most of their conversations.

What’s the big deal about this, you’re quick to ask? Well, I just want to satisfy your curiosity about how ordinary some of these important people are. Don’t get me wrong. I mean, the ordinariness of their life, attitude to things and the way they relate to people.

For instance, someone once asked if these people use the toilet in a special way; that is, do they pee in a way different from the common man on the street. Well, the following scenario will answer that question in a jiffy. And it might change your impression about them.

Before long, the special guest of honour arrived and Remi told the Oba’s wife to sit beside her husband so that the special guest would greet them together. After the exchange of pleasantries with the special guest, the Kabiyesi jokingly asked Remi about her sister she promised to betroth to him.

“I will call her now, Kabiyesi. She will come and meet us here,” Remi said, amidst laughter, and went back to her seat. Before she could sit down, her husband called out to her boyishly while moving towards her, “Remi, come and hear what Kabiyesi just said.” He pulled her by the arm while leading her towards Kabiyesi.

Remi is a woman I admired while she was in office. When I first encountered her, I was impressed by her humility and respect for others. It was the same she showed to Grace when she met her that evening. A few minutes after she settled down beside Grace, an aide of the Oba walked up to her to beg for some money which she turned down immediately. Her reason? “Emi naa fe sumptuous die.” Meaning she wanted to become sumptuous or add some weight after the ‘stress’ she went through while in office for eight years! She was interrupted by a waiter who came to take their orders for drinks. Remi ordered for tonic with water and the Oba’s wife for Chapman, while Grace declined to take anything.

“We wake up to fight and settle disputes every day,” continued Remi. “Bola is the type that gives people benefit of doubt.”

“It’s good to have that kind of spirit,” Alele-Williams said. “I’ve learnt to live at peace with everybody.” She later ordered for soda water without ice.

Just then, a waiter brought a bowl of peanuts, to which Remi asked in her usual free-styled self in Yoruba, “Se atun ma je kokoro ni?” Meaning, “We are eating chin-chin too?”

“Mo like aso e yi,” Grace said to ease off the tension that the words of Remi were already building up.

“Labanella sew different pieces for me when we were leaving office. She said I should wear them at home but I told her no, that I cannot wear these beautifully-sewn dresses at home. I told her I will use nice accessories with them that will accentuate how they look on me,” replied Remi.

“I like this one. It’s really nice,” Grace said.

“It was a hard eight years but I give glory to God,” said Remi.

It could be, you’d say. With the Toronto certificate saga which threatened Tinubu in the first few years of his reign and some political misgivings in the then Alliance for Democracy. But it’s not all a basket of troubles for them, you’ll agree with me. At least, Labanella’s example shows how many Labanellas visited the State House throughout the eight years!

By: FUNKE OSAE-BROWN