In a culture where our forefathers often had as many as 20 wives, with a flock of concubines thrown in for good measure, it comes as no surprise to many Nigerians that many citizens in elevated stations in the society have spawned a generation of children out of wedlock.
In spite of the age-old argument that, given the Nigerian culture - as it concerns procreation - no child is illegitimate, the reality on the ground is that most children begotten outside wedlock often suffer a fate comparable with that of second class citizens.
TEMPO investigation discovered that owing to the popularity of nuclear families in Nigeria, love children have fared much worse as housewives, and in some cases husbands, are grimly opposed to bringing love children into the nuclear family setting.
The question on the lips of many is:
What manner of a future is bequeathed to these hapless children and what ought to be a responsible position on the issue, on the part of parents?
Consider the case of Rasheed (once christened Rasheed Okoya). Shortly after his mother, Ajoke Okoya's, marriage to Alhaji Rasaq Okoya crashed, an unholy acrimony ensued between the erstwhile famous couple over the paternity of the little boy. That parting encounter was as volatile as the celebrated parting between Chief Tom Ikimi and his divorced wife. In the end, a DNA report from London proved that, indeed, the child belonged to nobody but Rasaq Okoya. It was after this obviously conclusive evidence that the story filtered out that Ajoke may have had the kid for one of Okoya's close friends. Till date, both Okoya and the friend are said to be sworn enemies.
Consider also the story of Lara Okerentugba, who had a stormy and passionate romance with the Edo State governor, Lucky Igbinedion, whilst the latter was Chairman of Oredo Local Government Council of the state. The Itsekiri-born lady had actually had to escape through the window of a club house in Benin when Edo First Lady, Eki, found her (Lara) with the governor. As the story goes, had Lara not hastily scampered out of reach, she might have been harmed by the incensed Eki, on that occasion. Today, Lara lives in New York with the eleven-year-old kid, who is a product of that liaison...
An alumnus of UNIBEN, she once worked at the World Trade Centre, New York, and her kid is reportedly a lookalike of the governor, sans the moustache, of course.
There is also the case of Senator Arthur Nzeribe, who fathered Toyin Fagbayi's 11-year-old daughter, Tosin. It was also a paternity scandal that rocked the society circles while it lasted. For, at the time, Toyin had been close as well to Kano billionaire, Aliko Dangote and Segun Awolowo, grandson of the late political sage, Pa Obafemi Awolowo.
While Aliko had outrightly denied ownership of the bundle of joy, back then, Segun had come close to accepting responsibility. But his mother, Zainab Abah Folawiyo, had put her foot down and that had let Segun out of the embarrassment.
Nzeribe had finally accepted fathering the kid, but not before insisting on a DNA testing process, which had confirmed him as the lucky man.
The list is seemingly endless.
Several years back, Muyiwa Fagbemi, younger brother to Olu Fagbemi, had suddenly found himself saddled with a love child. The little girl, Tolulope, was borne him by GTB big girl, Arese Longe, who had had to fly abroad to have the baby. At the time, the scandal had badly rocked Muyiwa's freshly contracted marriage, but he has since papered over things with his wife.
Another big boy whose marriage nearly collapsed on account of a child outside wedlock was Koye Rhodes, son to the late Chief Yinka Rhodes of the defunct ROSABOL fame.
Although married to Mosun, Koye had fallen head-over-heels in love with CMC Furniture boss, Yinka Oshobu, to the utter dismay of his wife and her family. In rather rapid succession, a son was given him by Yinka, and Koye, who had hitherto had only female children from his wife, couldn't have been happier. The romance was to eventually to grind to a bitter halt in 2000.
Aside from young businessmen, our elder statesmen have also had a fair population of children outside wedlock. It would, indeed, be boring to recount details of the countless kids fathered by the likes of the late M.K.O. Abiola, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, King Sunny Ade, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal and Sir Shina Peters who among his many love kids, has a beautiful daughter by the beautiful actress, Clarion Chukwura.
Even as you read this, Nigeria's former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has gone to the Supreme Court to ask the court for ample time to file a counter claim to a N10 million paternity suit filed by his one-time mistress, Edith Ike-Okongwu.
The subject of the tussle, which has passed through the Lagos High Court and the Appeal Court, is Young Musa Gowon, whom Edith is claiming belongs to the Plateau-born ex-ruler from the affair in the late 1960s. It is another instance where a once passionate love has turned determinedly ugly and bitter. For while Edith, now a cancer patient, is certain that Gen. Gowon will eventually cough up the N10 million and accept fatherhood, the Plateau General has vowed that that will only happen over his dead body.
Earlier on, in August 2002, Chris Obioha, brother to NADECO warlord, Ralph, had spoken out, disclosing that his marriage to Joy, nee Chukwure, had been set asunder by Anambra-born billionaire, Emeka Offor. Although himself from a privileged background and rich to boot, Chris had been heartbroken to see the way Emeka Offor allegedly waltzed into his life and deprived him of his joy. Today, Offor has a three-year-old daughter by Joy, whom he has set up in a big way in Maitama, Abuja.
Another eminent citizen who has a couple of these stigmatised children is the handsome, gap-toothed, Minna General, Ibraham Badamosi Babangida. Aside from his two kids by a daughter of the Bozimos, an influential Ijaw lady from Warri, IBB is also father to US-based Pamela, whose mother died of HIV/AIDS over three years ago.
But when one mentions Generals of the Nigerian Army, most people often dismiss the issue, pointing out that top military men and mistresses are inseparable quantities. The corollary being that they are bound to leave countless offspring in their wake.
Or how would one explain the case of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Shortly after he entered Aso Rock, one of his sons had reportedly visited him. The lad (not Oluremi's son and not Stella's) had driven over in a fancy Honda. OBJ had reprimanded him over the expensive car and sent him off with a rebuke ringing in his ears. Said to be a formidable actor in the question of love children, he has one child by Evelyn Amadi and two by Gold Oruh. It is not clear whether his romance with Lynda Soares, who died in 1986 at age 40, produced any offspring.
Where this matter is discussed, OBJ's astute V.P., Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is no slouch. Handsome and generous to a fault, he has always been arduously pursued by the women folk since he was an adolescent. As a result, he has worked his way through a whole population of beautiful women, liberally procreating for posterity. Among the women who have had children for him are Gloria, whom he met whilst still in the Nigeria Customs, Priscilia and Julia, the Edo beauty, who's into properties. The list is a long way from being exhaustive. Hajiya Saratu would have made the list had she not chosen to abort her pregnancy. She actually nearly lost her life in the process.
The list actually goes on and on. A lot of people recall, for instance, that Gen. Oladipo Diya had had to divorce his first wife who bore him Simi, his heir. Till today, he has refused to forgive the lady whom he accuses of having had an extramarital fling decades ago. The result of that careless fling is a grown young man named Tayo.
Also a very prominent pro-democracy activist based in lagos, has a memento from an out-of-wedlock adventure. The kid, also a full grown man, is today a major in the Nigerian Army.
Equally amazing is the case of Funso Alayande, who is reported to have been borne to Rev. Pa Alayande from a source other than his bonafide wife.
Chief Richard Akinjide is also reported to have had a son from another source, before Yomi, his official first son was born. Likewise, not many people know that Otunba Adekunle Ojora had a girl from outside wedlock before Erelu Ojuolape bore him Gbegi.
Kolapo Ishola too is also known to have recorded a daughter from a stray bullet, much earlier on, just like Dr. Kunle Olajide, who fathered two kids by a white woman. As forChief (Dr.) Engr. Victor Omololu Olunloyo, he recorded so many children outside wedlock that he is believed to rank with the greats like Fela, M.K.O. Abiola, etc., etc.
Consider also Jide Adeniyi of POATSON Fame. He has a grown son, Demilade, from a much earlier relationship. Today, Demilade has made something of himself. Trained as a journalist, he now manages musicians. He was born to the creative chief before his brief marriage to Bola Jegede, which produced two kids, Seyi and Junior.
Dr. Majekodunmi of St. Nicholas Hospital, fame and sole administrator of Western Region in the turbulent 60s had called on one of the Okeowo ladies one day, many years back. Sitting her and her mother down, he had revealed to her that he was her biological father and not Okeowo, who is now deceased. To make up for lost affection, he had presented her the gift of a building on the Abeokuta Expressway.
Another elderly gentleman, T.O.S. Benson, had been involved in a controversial cat and mouse game in 1997 with a grown-up lady who kept calling up newspaper editors willing to tell the story of how she was Benson's daughter, but he had repeatedly denied her. She has since been compensated and helped to relocate overseas.
The same T.O.S. Benson revealed to TEMPO several years back that his very first son was from an Ijaw woman when he was a Customs officer in the Port Harcourt area.
If all that seems like so much ancient history, consider the case of Niyi Adebayo, governor of the young Ekiti State. He panicked badly early last year when a couple of soft-sell tabloids picked up the story of how he had had a daughter by a rural Ekiti girl. So messy were the details that Remi, his Press Secretary, had had to be dispatched to Lagos to call media executives to a lunch conference, where the professionals were begged to be "more friendly".
Many big-named Nigerian VIPs who have since commuted to the great beyond have kindly left their contributions to the community of love children. Like the case of the lateVictor Okafor, a.k.a. Ezego, his wife Nkechi had only girls - four in all. At a point, Ezego was so bored about it that he decided to take practical steps to ensure he had a male heir to succeed him. Poor man. He ended up having a fifth daughter - outside wedlock.
The late Chief Bola Ige is another man who left bold footprints on the sands of this "community". The youngest wife of one of Ige's benefactors, Alhaji Omo Owo had shocked everyone when her husband (the benefactor) died. Her disclosure had been that her second and fourth kids had been born for the late Justice Minister.
Again, there had been a moment of uneasiness and embarrassment when, at IGE's death, early this year, a couple of adolescents had shown up in his compound and actually entered their feelings in the condolence register. One of them was Taiwo who claimed to have been born by Mrs. Falilat of Aliwo Ile Eleta, Agodi. They had been quietly pulled aside by members of Ige's household and urged to keep their presence to themselves. As if this hadn't been enough, the page of the condolence register on which they wrote was ripped out of the book.
Now, enter the colony of ravishingly beautiful Nigerian women who have had love children for VIPs for one reason or the other.
Heading this category is hard-drinking and hard-smoking ex-beauty queen, Bibiana Ohio. She absolutely swept ex-Belgian Ambassador, Christian Van Driessche, off his diplomatic feet. So much so that he would have given her the moon and the stars on a platter had they been within his reach. What came within his reach was a daughter, which he gladly gave her three years ago.
The story from Belgium now is that our Bibiana has gone missing with the daughter in tow, and Van Driessche, now Head of African Desk in Belgium, has been looking everywhere for her. At a point, he even involved the Interpol.
Regina Askia is another ex-beauty queen with a love child to her name. She had Stephanie, her first daughter, for a French man. Happily, Stephanie now lives with Regina in her new marriage to an American in New York.
Equally in the class of the bold and the beautiful is ex-Pyramid Nite Club owner Ibinabo Fiberesima. Known for dating money-bags and expatriates, she ended up having Sean, her first son, for Coughlan, an African-American, in 1998. She recently married Philip Trimonel, even though the marriage has reportedly developed troublesome cracks.
Gloria Ibru was swept away with passion for talented musician and playboy, Sammy Okposo, about five years ago. Alula, a pretty little girl, is the result of that whirlwind romance. Many had thought Sammy had gone in for the Ibru millions, but he shocked everyone when he refused to marry the bulky Gloria.