It’s amazing how time flies. When Ike and I met in 1991, it was a chance meeting. We were both at prayer meeting at the Household of God. People don’t really go to prayer meetings to meet their spouses. We were both new in church and in the faith and both trying to find our bearings. There was no way to know that our lives would be eternally linked together as Taiwo Adebayo, introduced us that day.
We did not date. We were just very good friends until it became apparent that we should get married. Then we had this 6 month courtship and before I knew it, we were married, planning our lives together. The date was April 1994. Why do I say April? We spent the entire month getting married (3rd-Traditional, 21st –Court and 30th-Church). I was 28 and he was 30. We were set for a life of great adventure in God.
I married a young man with so much potential, yet so much behind him. He was young yet he had experienced so much of life. He was a survivor. He had survived the war in which he lost five older brothers, a younger one and his father. He had survived a bad case of ulcer. He had survived terrible deprivation. I took going to school for granted, but he worked through school. He survived that too. Getting married was his time to walk into the bright future God had for him. The Lord had actually told him that He would begin to blossom from his 30th birthday. I was Ike’s 30th birthday gift.
In the early months of our marriage, Ike and I were talking one late night, when he suddenly said, ‘I really wish I could join the Marketing department’. He had never talked about this before. It was completely new. I heard a deep rooted desire that had been there for a long time. We began to pray about it and in a series of events that were obviously orchestrated by God Himself; he ended up in the Guinness Marketing Team. That is why I call Him Nwachinemere.
What seemed like a need met proved to be the breaking point in Ike’s career. He eventually left Guinness after 19 years. He came in as a production hand at 18 with his WASC, and left having done ‘A’ Levels, OND, BSc and an MBA. Before he left, as Assistant Brand Manager, he cut his Marketing teeth launching the Gordon Spark, relaunching the Harp Brand and working on the Satzenbrau Brand. Can you see why I call him Nwachinemere?
He moved to MTN and I simply admired the way he fit in so well with this new experience. His Guinness learning process prepared him for his roles in MTN. I watched my husband blaze trail through so many challenging roles. He was popularly called ‘Trader’ by his colleagues because of his first role as Trade Marketing Manager. Then he moved to Senior Manager then AGM, Consumer Segments, and Senior Manager, Channel & Regional Marketing Operations, all in a short period. I had the honors of being escorted to Johannesburg by this husband of mine where he was honored as a Yello Star. I beamed with pride as I watched him collect his trophy that day. I felt like I was part of an unfolding beautiful story.
Meanwhile on the home front we were expanding on every side. First Turuchi came and left. But that seemed to open a floodgate to us. Then come Dikachi, Maruche, Ginika and Neto. An amazing lot, they bring so much joy and colour into our lives. It appears that Nwachinemere should become a title, Nwachinemere I of Nenwe land.
God in his faithfulness moved Ike to Zain and once again, like his Father, he showed himself strong in his roles as Head of Retention & Loyalty as well as Segments.
Why do I write so much about his work? It is one of the things I appreciate and respect about Ike. Remember, I saw it all from the beginning. We prayed the Marketing career into being together. I was with him as he devoted himself to learning Marketing. I knew him when Anne Hart, his first Marketing Director would teach him what to do, when Ekwunife Okoli taught him principles. I was part of his learning curve. He enjoys his work. He works passionately, but his passion is fueled by his enjoyment of what he does. He loves his colleagues and we have built beautiful relationships over the years. It really makes him happy. Ike is the only person I know who actually loves going to work every morning. It is this same passion that took him to Tanzania to test new grounds as Marketing Director of Zantel, a telco affiliated to Etisalat. My confidence as I followed him to Tanzania, was his passion and true love for his work. The he became Managing Partner in Customer Passion Point and now Vice President, Group Head Marketing & Communication in First City Monument Bank (FCMB). I am so proud of his accomplishments as a Marketer because I have been there from the first day, watching him grow and turn all he touches to gold. From what seemed so improbable, he even has a Chartered Institute of Marketing London Membership, a post graduate diploma in Marketing Leicester University and a stint in Harvard. I know men can achieve, but I only see what God can do in a man’s life. For me it is a grass to grace God story, which I have watched unfold over the years.
As his wife, following and submitting to Ike is not too difficult. He lives and loves passionately. He gives his all. He gives his best shot to everything that he does. Marrying me is no exception. He takes being my husband very seriously. It is not an experiment to him. I enjoy being his wife. I enjoy his money, his attention, the whole man. With him I feel very special. He has made me an intricate part of who he is. Everyone who knows him knows that about him. His friends call me ‘Babe’ just like he does. I have absolutely no reason to regret my decision to pitch tent with him.
Babe, as I celebrate your turning 50, I remember your late Mum told me how she saved you and let your little brother go in a river she had to wade through to survive the war. It was like you were divinely marked for survival. I have watched Him take you through so many things. I have seen Him lift you up when everything is pointing down. I have seen him honor you. I have seen him walk you through very difficult times. I have seen God prove Himself in your life over and over again. He lifted you from the dunghill and has sat you among princes. Your life is indeed a book read of all men, bringing glory to our God.
I must say again, I have absolutely no regrets after 20 years of being your wife. I have the rare privilege of celebrating your birthday and our anniversary at about the same time. You have been a friend and brother. We have had our issues but God who holds us together has continued to see us through. I commit to my God given role of helping you to fulfill His plans for your life. I realize that the fulfillment of my destiny also lies in my playing that role well.
I cannot thank you enough for loving me the way you have. You far exceeded my expectations. I look around me at the marriage statistics and I am grateful to God for bringing you my way and giving me the wisdom to recognize you as a gift of gold. You have made all the difference in my life. You are a constant reminder of God’s love for me. I look forward to the next phase of consolidation in our lives. I am confident that the God who has kept us thus far will continue to do so. He will preserve our lives to continue to honor and bring glory to His name. We will watch our children mature and leave home to start their families. We will see their children, our grandchildren. We will teach them the Word of God as we are currently teaching our children, to preserve the Godly heritage we have in Jesus Christ. In it all, I will continue to respect and submit to you as my lord in Christ, as we both serve Him for the rest of our lives together. I love you with all my heart.
Happy Birthday Babe. Ck