As an educationist, she believes that aside intellectual development, inculcating the right values in a child produces a complete person. Mrs Adeola Bamgbose, Director, Educational Advancement Centre (EAC), Ibadan and a minister of God, in this interview by TOLUWANI OLAMITOKE, speaks on her activities, her home and the role of the church in shaping lives and marriages.
Can you let us into your background?
I was born into a family of five while I am the only girl and the third child. My eldest brother is late. I attended United Missionary College (UMC) Primary School, Molete, Ibadan and St Anne’s Secondary School, Ibadan. I had my A’Level education at Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro and later proceeded to University of Ibadan where I studied English. I am over 60 years old.
How would you describe yourself as a child?
I was a bit reserved and I loved reading a lot. But then I was a tomboy since I grew up with the boys. My dad was a company secretary and so taught, us how to read and write. He taught us Queen’s English. He was particular about how things were done and said. My mum didn’t spare me when it came to doing the house chores. Being the only girl, I was trained to be out of bed by 4:30 a.m to carry out the chores. Again in school we were taught etiquette and given orientation on how to comport ourselves well. We had what I could call a family togetherness. We were in the habit of drinking tea and this habit later rubbed off on my husband when we got married. My mum would brew tea in a big flask and we would all keep drinking.
You are an educationist, what attracted you to the profession?
I really wanted to be a broadcaster and actually studied Television Management at South Thames College, London. When I retured to Nigeria, somehow I couldn’t get into the television house. I had enormous task of taking care of the children but what actually happened was not planned but divine. I thought of going into teaching so as to have enough time to care for the children. I did so in 1979 and just fell in love with it. My principal while at Lagelu Grammar School, Ibadan advised me to go for a postgraduate diploma (PGD) course in education which I did. While teaching, I was given a slot by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to air an educational programme,‘English by Television.’
When did you start thinking of marriage?
By the time I was having my A’Level education, I thought I was ready—I was a bit balanced because I had boys— that is my brothers around me. They counselled and advised and would always come back with stories about guys. I thank God for the Christian up bringing I had. This helped me to be focused and upright.
How did you get to know you spouse?
I was doing a vacation job at the Water Corporation at the Cocoa House in Ibadan. We met in the lift. We started seeing more of each other and also attended the same university. But I must confess that our coming together was his mum’s making. She took to me from the first time we met.
Can you please introduce him?
He’s Olumuyiwa Bamgbose, my good friend. I call him ‘D’. One thing I love about him is that he’s a homely person. He gives comfort at home. My grandson always says, ’Grandpa is not your husband, he’s your honey.’ We have come a long way through thick and thin and the bond has always been there. As a pastor, he practises what he teaches, that is the word of God. He studied Biochemistry but has been into business. He’s a creative person and very innovative and has also been into research. He’s a born teacher and leader. One of the key trainings he gives our children is not to be rude but bold.
There is the observation that pastors’ children are wayward, why is it so?
Many ministers of God have forgotten that after God it’s their family and that is where many have missed it. Samuel missed it in the area of parenting so also was David. I believe we must learn not to spare the rod. Some also want to buy their children over. We shouldn’t also forget that the ministry of the devil is to steal, kill and destroy. The devil seeks daily to pull down the ministers of God and does this through the children. That’s why it’s important for ministers to put their wives and children under God’s covering always.
It is also observed that when couples-to-be are counselled on marriage by their spiritual leaders, the emotional aspect is avoided, what’s your take on this?
Well for us, spiritually it is assumed that because you are a born-again Christian, the spiritual aspect and import of marriage should be known to you, although we still take the couple-to-be through these again. Emphasis is also laid on the physical, that is issues that have to do with money and sex, among others. Couples should walk and work together and if you are married to your friend, every aspect of you should matter. Marriage is actually blissful when you are married to your friend. My husband and I run a joint account and have never had a problem with that. Commitment and openness among other things are expected in a relationship. A couple should be able to defer to each other. I believe what is happening today is marriage of convenience.
What were the things which caused misunderstanding in your early marriage?
Our parents were overprotective. My mum wasn’t comfortable because I was married into a polygamous family. I stayed with my in-laws for 10 years but I didn’t know it was going to be so. My husband is the eldest of the children and also his dad’s right hand man. He monopolised my husband and I really didn’t have him. We travelled out of the country on the second day of our marriage and as our wedding gift, my father-in-law built a house for us right behind his house. We actually thought it was going to be built in some other place. My mother-in-law was a pillar of support and a prayer warrior, we had a relationship. All those years, I had three days devoted to prayers. It was really tough.
Can you tell us how the idea of EAC was conceived?
We had a challenge with one of our children. She sat for the JAMB examination twice and scored below 200. It was obvious there was a problem. We later enrolled her in Ilorin for the Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB) programme, but the experience was not palatable because a guy in the cult wanted to date her and she refused. My husband, on hearing this, went to her school and brought her back home. In fact she left everything she had, including her books in the school. I was a vice principal then. We started preparing her and two other students for the Cambridge A’Level examination and employed the services of a coordinator. That was how the idea was gradually conceived. I was then at Ikolaba Grammar School, Ibadan and my husband advised me to resign my job and work with the establishment. I wasn’t comfortable with this. I later discussed it with a colleague of mine who noticed I wasn’t myself. She opened my eyes to some things I didn’t realise and encouraged me to resign. I put in my letter of resignation but my principal rejected it and tore it. I actually had a rapport with my boss and colleagues and so was hard for my principal, especially to let me go and so was the TESCOM chairman. My attention was called to what I would lose, especially since I had just few years left to retire, but my mind was made up. I resumed in EAC in July 1997 and looking back today, I can say I feel fulfilled.
What do the activities of your establishment look like?
EAC programmes include, among others, Advanced Level GCE, Remedial O’ Level, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and vocational training, among others. We are not only focused on the academic aspect, we also believe in moulding lives. We have students whose parents and the society at large have given up on. We try to identify with such and through the help of God build a total person out of them.
What special attention do you give the female students?
We believe that when you build a female life you build a nation. What we do is to build confidence in the girls, help them stand tall while we also inculcate in them values they require to cope with any challenge that comes their way. Also, we teach the word of God, etiquettes and morals among which is dressing decently, a virtue which is lacking in ladies these days mainly because they are nurtured with the wrong values from home.
How do you relax?
Writing poems, reading and travelling.
How do you spend your weekend?
I spend it most times in church. Sometimes I attend social engagements. But when it’s possible I try to stay back at home.