Chief Solomon Oluwafemi Dada and wife, Eunice, have been married for 52 years. In this interview with VIVIAN ONYEBUKWA, they spoke about the secret of their successful marriage and other marital issues. Excerpt:
Tell us briefly about your backgrounds
Pa Solomon: My name is Solomon Oluwafemi Dada, the Babajiro of Awo Ekiti. I worked in the bank starting from 1962. I worked in then Barclays Bank for a period of 10 years. I moved to the defunct African Continental Bank (ACB) and I worked there for a period of eight plus years. Thereafter, I joined the Chartered Institute of Bankers as the Director of Studies, later changed to Director of Education and Consultancy. I was also privileged to be the Registrar/ Chief Executive of the Institute of Bankers in 1996 for two-and-a-half years. I retired in 1999, that is, 22-years ago. But when I retired, I was not tired. So I established a consultancy outfit known as FEBAND Consult using my name and the name of my wife, Femi and Bamidele. We have been doing a lot of trainings for corporate bodies like Central Bank, NDIC, First Bank, Union Bank, and some other organisations including West African Examinations Council (WAEC), both Nigeria and their Ghana headquarters, until recently when there wasn’t any business. The COVID disrupted the whole thing because there is no more open training unless you have to go by Webinar. That’s what I have been doing and God has been so faithful.
Ma Eunice: I’m Chief Eunice Bamidele Dada. I come from Igede Ekiti. I was born in Ilesha because my parents lived there. I schooled in Ilesha as well. I started my primary school education then at Teacher Secondary Model School. After that, I schooled at teacher training colleges at Baptist Women Teacher Training College, Ile Ife for the Grade 3 and, later at Baptist College, Idi Aba, Abeokuta, for my Grade 2. I taught in different schools in the Western Region before we relocated to Lagos. I have been teaching under the Ministry of Education. Later, I was given a duty post as the Head Teacher of Anwar-UL-Islam Primary School, Ogba, Agege. Due to my dedication to duty, out of 68 primary schools in Agege Local Government, I was the Best Head Teacher in 1997 in Agege Local Government on merit award which was celebrated at Agege Local Government. I retired in 1999 but I was not tired. I had a shop where I sold some goods until my children said that I have worked enough, so I always travel to visit them in Ireland, Canada, America on different occasions. I thank God for the grace He has endowed me with.
How did the marriage start?
Pa Solomon: It is by the grace of God because when I left the secondary school in our hometown in December 1961, I moved to Lagos. I only visited our town from time to time. But by providence, this lady, who is now my wife, after leaving her teacher training college, was posted to our hometown. Out of about eight of them from our town, Igede, who were students, she was the only one who was posted there. When she got there, I had a friend teaching in the same school, one Prince Alade. Before then, my mother had been pestering him to make sure that I did not marry from outside the town, or that I should marry not just anybody. So he told me that he had a brilliant, beautiful lady that he would like me to marry. He was the one who introduced her to me. I created time to visit her and we became friends. That was in 1964. But the relationship lingered on until 1968 when we got married. That time I was at Ife and she was posted to a school at Modakeke after her Grade 2. So we were very close. We did the marriage at the Government Registry, Osogbo in 1968.
What was her reaction when you proposed to her?
Pa Solomon: As usual, you know ladies would not want to say yes at the first time, but because she has known my mother and two of my friends who were close to her, and they were always pestering her, she had no choice but to accept.
Why did you accept his offer of marriage?
Ma Eunice: Initially, I didn’t want to accept because I had many boyfriends. Some were in UK writing series of letters to me, while some were in Nigeria, too. But, my senior sister at Igede told me that he was a very nice man and came from a very good family also. She advised me that I should not go out and marry outside our town, even though in our town, we had some that were in America and UK. My sister also told me that his parents were very good too. That was why I accepted to marry him.
Did you experience any early marriage challenges?
Ma Eunice: Yes, I did. Some members of his family lived with us. Some would not like to cooperate to help me in the housework. But with endurance, since I was brought up by my parents to be hardworking, there was no work that was difficult for me to do. I would start the work. When those ones living with us would observe that I did not have any regret, they would join me to do the housework. Later, they tried to cooperate with me in the family.
Pa Solomon: Yes, I experienced early marriage challenges, but it wasn’t as serious. We used to have some quarrels, but we never allowed it to blow out. As a banker, sometimes, I would close late and would not get back home in time. There was a night, my office was at Sabo, Yaba, and I had to do a certain assignment for the president. It was late in the night and she was already asleep and one of the children woke her up and she realised I was not yet home. She was worried and she had to come with the daughter with a vehicle to come and meet me in the office. With that she was not even happy. But when I explained to her that I did not go out to drink or go anywhere, she met me in my place of work, she eventually knew that my nature of job was such that I had to remain there to get it done. We thank God that even if we had some squabbles, we never beat each other under any condition. When we had some misunderstanding, we allowed the Christian word to enter our minds. We might not greet each other that afternoon, but by night or early in the morning, we would start talking again.
How would you describe your wife?
Pa Solomon: She is a very hardworking person. She cares for people, the children, and me too. She even cares for me more than I do for myself, because anytime she noticed anything in me either on my face or my body, she would be worried and would want to take me to the hospital or something. In the house, she does most of the job. Now I cannot say I know how to cook again, whereas when I was a young man staying with my uncle, I was the one cooking and doing everything. But here anytime I want to go to the kitchen to help her out, she would refuse. So I don’t know how to do anything again. If she is not around, I don’t know what I can do.
How do you handle difficult situations in the marriage?
Pa Solomon: We sit together and solve it. If possible, we look at the Bible and quote from it, or when we go to church and we hear a sermon, we refer to it when we get home. We try and solve the whole situation. As much as possible, we don’t allow external interference.
What is so special about your husband?
Ma Eunice: He is a gentleman. He is quiet and is open-minded. This makes me to have 100 per cent trust in him even when I can describe him as “Ajala travels all over the world” because he travels a lot. They take him to different places both in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. And he is not such a person that flirts. At a time when his bank, ACB, transferred him to Agbor, Delta State, and when some of his clients visited me here, they advised me to relocate to Agbor because my husband is never nice. I was a teacher then and I thanked them very much for their advice. But I told them that I trust him and there is nothing that he is doing that he would not tell me. I told them that I could not pack all my loads and all the children, leaving their school and travel together with him. There was a time he was transferred to Kano. I said I could not be travelling with him all over because I have hundred per cent trust in him. I told them that he is such a reliable person.
We are human beings; no man is perfect. Again, he is a man, travelling all over the world. If another woman walks into this your house with a child and say that the child belongs to your husband, how will you react?
Ma Eunice: I will not believe it because anything he does, he is open-minded. As I said earlier, he does not hide anything from me. I thank God that he has chosen him to be my husband. And since we have been married, I have known his character. He cannot do such a thing. If he did such a thing, he would tell me. And even if he did such a thing, I will not react badly.
Tell us your happiest moment so far in this union?
Ma Eunice: It was when we married, when I had my first baby, and when he was promoted. Again, when I too had my certificates in the colleges, especially when I did my professional education at the University of Ibadan, because the course was very tedious. It was part-time, so I was going to work and going for studies on weekends. So I was happy when my result came that I was one of the students that passed.
Tell us about your children
Ma Eunice: We have five children, three boys and two girls and 13 grandchildren. Three of them live abroad while two are in Nigeria. They have their first and second degrees, and even addition qualifications.
How were you able to take care of them considering your career and academic activities when they were growing up?
Ma Eunice: In actual fact, my husband, as I said earlier, as a result of his career, was always away. God gave me the initiative on how to take care of them. When they were sick, I would ensure I took them to the doctor. When they started school, I always monitored them. One of my sons who is a medical doctor now, when he was young, the first secondary school he attended, their father was not in Nigeria, he was abroad. I would first of all take him to the bus stop where he would enter a bus to his school, CMS Grammar School, Ojodu, before I would come back to dress for work. I thank God for giving me the knowledge and grace on how to take care of them. I lead them to know God because when we went to church and came back, I would ask them what they learnt from church. I ensured we prayed together to God and read the Bible always. This helped me. Wherever they are in the world, they don’t forget God. They are prayer warriors. I lead them to be friendly and to share things. They are not selfish children. They love people, and this is what they acquired from us here.
What advice do you have for married women?
Ma Eunice: They should be tolerant, patient, and trust their husbands. They should be open to their husbands, and not hide anything because life is short. A woman can be richer than the husband, but because she is richer, she should not be proud because pride goes before destruction. If a woman is too proud because she is higher than her husband in one way or the other, it could cause commotion in the house. To crown it all, the woman should love her husband. When she loves her husband, the children will copy them because children see what they do in the house. If a woman is quarrelling with the husband every now and then, these children that God has given them would also be quarrelling when they have their own homes. So it is important for women to cooperate with their husbands under any circumstance. They should not go after worldly affairs, and they should not flirt. Nowadays, some women, because of money, misuse their body. They go out, which is wrong. The end of it will be very bad. Don’t bring men into your matrimonial home in the absence of your husband. It does not bring any prestige to run after men and worldly affairs. They should take care of their husbands which is even the first person in the family, then their children. Women should not allow house-helps to do all the work at home. Some women nowadays leave every work in the house for the house-help, which is not good. Women should try as much as possible to talk to their children to know how to behave.