Muni Okoronkwo had always been focused, believing in her abilities, strengths and gifts as well as importantly, the grace of God to get her where she desired. Over the years, she boasted a number of successes. An A-lister from kindergarten, through to university, she had graduated Summa Cum Laude from one of the Ivy League universities in the United States of America, which she had attended on full scholarship. Muni believed in her country and felt she could impact positively on both its image and performance at an appropriate time.

Her sojourn in the Corporate world had prepared her for challenges and equipped her with the resilience, experience and knowledge she felt was needed to catapult her into public service at the highest levels. These together with her mantra “What is worth doing at all is worth doing well” propelled her to join a political party and vie for the Governorship ticket of her state of origin – Babula.

During her campaign for the primaries, her credentials were touted as follows:

  • A totally detribalized and liberal-minded individual who not only married outside her state of origin but also encouraged her children’s choices.
  • A champion for female emancipation who believes that the female population has numerous untapped resources that could be of benefit to the nation.
  • A consummate Technocrat having served in varying capacities in a thriving Multinational Corporation where until recently, she served as the Group Regional director for Africa and the Middle East Sub Region. Her experience gleaned at the Corporation honed her proficiency in the following areas:-
  • – Mediation and International strategic negotiations.
  • – Analytical skills resulting in fiscal policies aimed at profitability and sustainability.
  • – Astute assignment of human capital and attendant compensation/reward systems geared at achieving desired results.
  • – Deployment of technology as a veritable tool for advancement.
  • – An understanding of the Separation of powers as a guarantee for a properly run Government.

Today, Muni has just won the primaries of her party, Babula Democratic Congress (BDC) and has been declared the flag bearer for the Gubernatorial race. At the reception cocktail held in her honour, three of her closest persons are having an earnest conversation, cocktails in hand.

Mama Okoronwo, her mother-in-law takes a deep breath and expresses her concerns “Hmmm…I really don’t understand what more Muni wants. She has totally emasculated my son, Gregory. Being the Group Executive of that big multinational Corporation was not enough for her, now she wants to be described as “Her Excellency”, meanwhile, how would her husband be described – husband of her excellency? I wonder how they will relate at home…will she still prepare his meals and do the needful as his wife? Thank God the children are now grown and married.”

Princess (Muni’s childhood friend) interjects with a giggle and says “Not to worry mama, I trust my friend Muni. She has always been humble and good at multitasking. They have coped thus far and honestly, her role as Group Regional Director was very challenging. Greg is very supportive of her and they will cope just fine. I however think she should have limited her ambition to Deputy Governor or at the best, shoot for Vice president. Women are not meant to take the leadership role but act as a support or helper to a man who leads. Just my view though and I believe it is scriptural. After all, Adam was made the Head of the home in Eden.”

Mark – The Public Relations Secretary to the State wing of the party responds “With all due respect madam I disagree. Excellence does not bear a sexist toga. We should desire that the best man or in this case, the best woman lead for the collective good of the state. There is a saying that “If a man sees a snake and a woman kills it, the important thing is that the snake is dead and no longer a threat.” Unfortunately, most women have been conditioned to think they should take second place. I guess we will just have to wait and see. She has scaled the hurdle with the party, but it remains to be seen whether our polity is ripe for women holding the reins of power. Her competency and altruistic values cannot be faulted and frankly, she holds the best credentials among all the Gubernatorial candidates.”

Havilah is of the opinion that until objectivity rules our decisions, we will continue to have less-than-optimum public servants and mediocrity will prevail. Competence and ability do not have gender preferences. Our motto should always be “May the best man win.“ Did I just say that…I mean may the best man or woman win! Let us lower the flag of gender bias even from among us women.




Elder Ibinabo Perry was taking her usual preparatory class for intending couples when in her characteristic manner, she threw them this poser: “Allan and Grace had recently arrived in Canada having received visas to enable them residency there. They relocated with their three children who were between the ages of one and five years, only to go through the initial settling-in challenges. Grace had to stay home to take care of the children as they were not yet eligible for school and caregivers came expensive. Allan was therefore forced to singlehandedly fund the living expenses of the family in addition to taking classes to enable him access to better employment opportunities. He was stretched as he juggled two jobs with his studies and often had to do the grocery shopping for the family. It was their first winter and he had to contend with clearing the snow around the house and his car as well. This day, Allan rushes in to catch a meal and some two hours of sleep before heading out to his second job. He had promised to pick up some milk and cereal from the store, on his way home but he was so tired that he was already parked in his driveway when he remembered. As soon as he walks in through the door, he gives his children a kiss and hugs his wife asking for his food prior to catching some sleep. Grace glares at him angrily with “Where are the grocery you promised to pick up? The plan was to give the children cereal tomorrow and as usual, you have messed things up”. She kept on nagging and berating him in a loud voice in the presence of the children. All attempts by Allan to placate her proved abortive as Allan apologised that his state of fatigue was responsible for him forgetting to stop at the store and that he had only remembered after parking the car. He requested to eat promising to head back out immediately after his meal to purchase the items. However, Grace would not let up but continued to complain and nag, referring to him as irresponsible and unthinking, while plonking his food in front of him in an angry manner. At this point, the dam burst for Allan and he yelled back at her saying “Will you shut up and accord me some respect? You keep berating me in front of the children and I never knew you could be this disrespectful, else I would never have married you. Keep your food, I don’t need it!” with that he picked up his car keys and left, to clear his head and pick up the items in the process. Grace on her part broke down in tears as she settled the children to bed with the following thought reverberating in her brain “Allan no longer loves me. He doesn’t care that I am alone all day, I am unhappy and unfulfilled yet he doesn’t show tenderness. He doesn’t care.” Given what we have learnt regarding the instruction for wives to respect and submit to the leadership of their husbands and for husbands to love their wives, can you analyse the situation and how you would advise the couple to redress their situation?

John is the first to take a go at the poser. After clearing his throat, he says “I will address this from two angles:

  1. The Instructions to respect/submit and the one to Love are mutually exclusive. In other words, the responsibility of wives to submit to their husbands is not dependent on receiving love from their husbands and vice versa. Husbands should love their wives regardless while the wives submit to their husbands regardless.
  2. The instruction to submit precedes the one to love. That presupposes that wives should first respect their husbands.

I would therefore point Grace to the reality that she has a duty to respect her husband regardless of whatever he may have done wrong. Most especially, berating him in the presence of a third party, (in this case his children) is unacceptable and would be counterproductive. Even where she felt he erred, her actions and words could have been delivered in a loving manner that would spur him to act without raking up rancour. It is not easy to be fully responsible for the finances of the family and combine that with the school. Honestly, he should be appreciated not berated.”

Bodun on her part agreed with John but had this to add. “Although the husband’s love should be independent of the wife’s submissiveness, in practice, when a woman respects the husband, it usually elicits the man’s love. Grace should have been more understanding, given him his meal lovingly and then raised the issue in a loving non-confrontational manner at an appropriate time. That would have elicited a better resolution of the matter especially since there were possibly other things the children could eat. She could have given alternative suggestions regarding the procurement which would engender a peaceful resolution. However, it is important to note that Grace has her own frustrations which may have caused the reactions. Allan needs to be sensitive to his wife’s frustration and needs and find a way of calming and reassuring her pending when they can be adequately addressed.”

Elder Ibinabo ended the class with the following advice.’ In relationships, our speech must be guarded so that we don’t ignite situations. In practical terms, both respect and love must be mutual. If a man demands respect in an authoritative manner it will probably be met with resistance, But if he is gentle and caring, showing love and tenderness and attending to her needs, she will likely respect him. Similarly, when a woman respects her husband and submits to him, his love is likely to shine forth and he feels the commitment to love her. Note that there will be life’s trials and challenges in marriage but mutual Love and respect, will help you surmount them with the help of prayers asking God for the strength to overcome the temptation to be brash.”





Uyi and Esosa had been married for five years during which a lot had changed. When the lovebirds married, they were Security Guard and Receptionist respectively, at a small sole proprietorship business with no education beyond their Secondary School Certificate. Uyi however craved a higher education and strove to attend a part-time course at the University while Esosa seemed content to remain the doting wife and mother with no intentions of furthering her education or acquiring a skill. Recently, she observed that she was outside Uyi’s new circle of friends as she felt out of place and awkward with them. Uyi was also becoming more critical of her, causing her discomfiture which gave her reason to seek out advice from Aunty Pauline.

After she explained the reason for her visit, Aunty Pauline berated her for her lethargy. “Come on Esosa, you have to step up! You are an intelligent lady. Polish yourself up, go back to school or learn a skill and excel at it. Make him proud of you. It can only engender respect. I think I need to share MY STORY with you”. Aunty Pauline continued:

“Anda and I are from underprivileged backgrounds and barely finished Secondary School back in our village. We both decided to move to the city to search for jobs and settle down in marriage. Anda had always been very ambitious with a zeal for higher education but his parents could least afford that. However, after our marriage, he retook the SSCE and JAMB exams and came out with excellent results. This spurred the church we attend to offer him a scholarship to pursue a course in Sociology at the Federal University of his choice. He graduated top of his class and went on to do a Master’s degree in International Relations as a Graduate Assistant at the University. In all that time, it was I who sustained the family on my meagre salary as an Office Assistant – holding up the family and supporting my husband. On completing his Post Graduate course, he obtained employment with the Ministry of External Affairs and was shortly posted out as an Ambassador to Botswana. This gave the family the opportunity to travel out but I soon discovered that Anda started avoiding being seen with me or presenting me as his wife. I appeared to be an embarrassment to him as I had nothing to contribute to conversations at official events and barely understood the topics of discussion. Soon enough, I got dropped out of these events and it placed a strain on our relationship.

One day, after some deep introspection, I decided I would surprise him – step up and match him or maybe…outdo him. I was equally intelligent but had put all my energies into raising and sustaining the family, believing that the education and enlightenment should be left to the children. I had felt I was past learning. Ignorance had appeared to be bliss but I realised my safe world was crumbling. Without hesitation, I investigated the learning opportunities in Botswana and enrolled in school.  At the age of 37 and after birthing three children, I was back in school with a hunger that propelled me into the Merit list of the school. I graduated with honours which earned me respect not only from my husband but from his peers and other members of our family. With education came enlightenment and technological advancement. I became a relevant source of reference and assistance – a sounding board for my husband who now respected me more than ever before and began to rely on my advice and in-depth analysis of situations and events. Needless to say, that was the tonic my marriage needed. Rather than lose to ignorance and lethargy, I “stepped up” and it paid off”.

Havilah sounds a note of advice here – In any marriage, both parties must build mutual respect. Unfortunately, this may sometimes be affected by a mismatch in education, exposure, interests, values and the like. When either party considers the partner as an embarrassment for any reason, respect usually gets kicked out the door and causes the basis for friction in an otherwise healthy relationship. Communication is key to every marriage and effective communication can only take place where both parties are operating at similar levels of communication. Both parties must be able to clearly understand what is communicated.