The father of the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Elder Olutayo Soyode, says in spite of his daughter’s position and the exalted office of her husband, he dreads going to Aso Rock for a visit. He said going to the villa was like going to jail, given the way his movement would be monitored and he would need to sign various forms before he could go out, for security reasons.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, the 74-year-old said he loved to be free and he wasn’t the type to sit in one place and be watching television under heavy security.
Soyode, who was a close associate and son-in-law to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, explained that it was the will of God that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo rose from being a university lecturer to become the Vice-President, and that all her daughter wanted to be was a confectioner despite being a qualified lawyer.
He recalled that by the time his late wife, (Dolapo’s mother) was delivered of Dolapo in the United Kingdom where they met, he was believing God to have a male child, as it was customary in his family to have a male as their first child. However, he said if she had been a male, he might not be as close to her as they are today.
When asked how often he visits the villa to see his daughter’s family, he said, “I don’t go there often. Going there is like going to jail, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like locking me up. The way you see me, do I look like someone that can be kept in one place and before I could go out, I have to sign papers and there would be plenty phone calls? I would just run mad, because I’m not used to such.
“I’m a free man. That place (Aso Rock), is a very good place but I’m not the type to live there, so I don’t go there often. Anytime I go, I do give them time, like telling them I was coming for two days. I don’t even live with them. Let us say we are in Abuja now, you possibly can’t visit me for this interview. They won’t allow you to come in, and if you have to, you would have to sign different papers.
“If I go there, I would be there alone, watching television. I can’t do that. I would rather stay where they can visit me and anybody can see me.”
In the interview, Soyode also spoke about his relationship with the late Chief MKO Abiola, the trick he deployed to get late Chief Awolowo to allow him marry his daughter, and what had changed about him as the father of the wife of the Vice-President, among other issues.
Excerpts from interview below:
In this interview the father of the wife of Nigeria’s Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Elder Olutayo Soyode, speaks on life as a son-in-law to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, her daughter, what he knew about late Chief MKO Abiola’s travails among other issues
How does it feel to be the father of the wife of the Vice President?
I don’t have any special feeling because I have been in politics for a long time. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was my father-in-law, who is the President Nigeria never had, as far as I’m concerned. I was by his side and I worked with him full time. I have been in the limelight for a long time and so all these are just icing on the cake.
How did you meet your wife, Chief Awolowo’s daughter?
I met her in London where we were both studying and we fell in love. It was basically about students meeting each other in the UK during studies. I felt that before Chief Awolowo would say his daughter must not marry me, I needed to adopt what we used to call two-in-one, meaning marriage and pregnancy, so that by the time he would know, his daughter would have been pregnant and stopping us from getting married would be difficult. You know in that atmosphere, people tend to be more reckless.
So, I did the two-in-one and both of us had to tell our parents what happened. When I told my father, he screamed, saying I had put him in trouble. When she told her mother, I didn’t know how she too screamed, but I remember one afternoon, at about 2:30pm, a call came in from Lagos. When I picked it, the person said, ‘is that Tayo Soyode?’ I said yes. The person said ‘this is Obafemi Awolowo.’ I started trembling and knelt down, till the phone almost fell in my hand. I had to put the phone down. I couldn’t pick his call again. Later, my dad called and instructed me to pick his call. About one hour later, Chief Awolowo called back and I picked. He said he had met my father and my people in Lagos.
Let me quote him. He said, ‘what I have done is that, you’re going to do certain arrangements. I have made sure that your marriage is going to hold on March 27, 1967.’ He made that call around January. He said he had booked the flight for us to come home because we had to do engagement and other things. Immediately, I dropped the call, I told my father and he told me he would give me money because he wouldn’t like the whole family to be disgraced. I made a lot of money that period; Chief Awolowo would send me money, I would tell my father and he would still send me money, and my dad would always say even if he had to sell his house he would, so he could send me money too. I didn’t return the money (laughs).