To ensure that I purge this gratitude to Allah of boast, I shed off the suggestion from my literary instinct framed as “My wife is Better than Yours” an adaptation of My Mercedes is Bigger than Yours which happens to be the title of a novel by Nkem Nwankwo published in 1975.
My resort to this article of appreciation to Allah is the 50th birthday of my darling spouse, Faoziyah Abike Omolara Bukola Akanni which coincided with Arafat Day. Abike, to the glory of Allah is currently steeped into deeper expression of profound thanks to Allah as she is currently performing hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, our shared faith inherited from our parents which we have since reaffirmed to be our way to ultimate solace. There is no doubting our folks, friends and families, joining us in saying Alhamdulillah.
Oluwabukola, my darling lawyer wife, has lived up to the implication of the meaning of her name for the family as a mother and consistent enabling variable in as many respects as probably imaginable. Today, my immediate family owes all major breakthroughs to her counsel and relentless support even when unmistakably frustrating manifestations not only happened but also repeatedly. What will you not experience when you choose to, believing in the seamlessly optimism inspiring philosophy of Islam, reckon with sheer neighbours as blood relations without a corresponding reciprocity?
Bukola did not marry the Dr Akanni that the world knows today. The beginning was very humble yet laden with more uncertainty than assurance, if you like, apply the popular meaning hauled on the psyche of the world today by my kinsman, Davido. But we can’t thank Allah enough for our own version of assurance.
Subscribing to the trust we both had in our mutual friend-and I will thank him specially later- who facilitated our meeting, it didn’t take us more than six months to consummate our relationship. No sooner had we gotten married than my wife felt it was time for her hubby to upscale educational attainment. “My dear, BL issued by the Law School is like a postgraduate certificate. I want to be proud of you at all times. I’m ready for all the sacrifices too”. Before then, I had conservatively subscribed to the possibility of accomplishing whatever professional ambition through independent, self efforts after my first degree. Not much plan for postgraduate qualifications as such.
Buki’s wishes translated to answered prayers. First, I won the competitive Visiting Scholar Award of the renowned Columbia University, New York. Next was the all-time prestigious British Chevening Scholarship Award which I expended at England’s oldest mass communication programme at the University of Leicester where I tapped from the scholarly anointing of foremost scholars like Professors Halloran and Annabelle Sreberny both of who were past presidents of the International Association of Media and Communication Research, IAMCR. While in England, I got admitted into the doctoral programme of the Penn State University. But the strong pull of love for my young family was stronger. I returned to Nigeria promptly.
My Bukola has also been a most energetic bridge builder. Hear this: Current Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, who was formerly VC of Unilorin, Prof Is’haq Oloyede, wanted me to be in his kitchen team when he was VC Unilorin. Being somebody who has zero tolerance for time wasting, he started giving me assignment same day he initiated the idea. Believing in him so much since my Unilorin studentship days and as a fellow alumnus, I agreed, even as the offer had not been formalized. I ensured prompt delivery of all assignments. But I wasn’t convinced I could relocate to Ilorin then. I had a young family to nurture, I reasoned, and theOyo-Ogbomoso road has always been hazardous. I didn’t have the courage to decline the offer but I refused to report there. He came looking for me in Lagos but no luck either. I concluded that I was already in his bad book after reciprocating so much confidence. Not Oloyede. Soon afterwards, he was the keynote speaker at a national conference of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, MULAN, when he was still VC of Unilorin. As a MULAN member, My wife was there. After the opening ceremony Prof. Oloyede was to hurry out only for him to spot my wife. He overwhelmed her with courtesy. Bukola, my cheer leader, returned to Lagos to help break the ice. “Baba (referring to Oloyede) asked passionately after you. He chatted with me for almost five minutes even as several dignitaries were waiting to see him. In short, you have to call him to thank for me. We’re family again o”. Sure, we are. My integration into JAMB work as a consultant since Prof Oloyede began to restore the glory of the sinking board, more than evidences this
For the umpteenth time, I cannot thank Allah enough for the enablement availed me together with Bukola mi. Surmounting our own share of what psychologists call mid-life crisis or better still, Dark Night of the Soul, adopting the title of the post-crisis book written by the former banker of the Commerce Bank fame, Zakarriya Femi Iyanda Adekanye from Offa Kwara State, hasn’t been tea party. My late favourite school principal, Mr. Olatunji from Ilesha, had taken time to repeatedly alert us, his pupils, to the perils of the future but little did I reckon with the reality of the prophesy. According to him, if it were possible for young men and women to open the book of fate to see details of what await them, many would simply close it and pass out. To Allah’s glory, we’ve dared the thickets to advance, making it most compelling to keep giving glory to the only deserving.
The rigorous search for Oluwabukola no be small. My indomitable champion in this context is Ustaz Zikrullah Hassan. Dr Yunus Akintunde had a protracted hold on me too but eventually t’oba l’ase. May Allah grant us all long and fruitful live. Aamin thuma aamin.
Akanni, PhD, is the Director of Digital Media and Research Centre of the Lagos State University. Twitter: @AkintundeAkanni