Precious Chikwendu is upfront, yet emotional, deep, yet lighthearted. She tells Morenike Taire why, contrary to prevailing rumours about town, a reconciliation with her sons’ father is the furthest thing from her agenda.
In October, Precious became the proud recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from a Benenois university; for giving scholarships to many Nigerian students at the university through her NGO.
Do you have a history of multiple births in your family?
Yes, my mum’s family has multiple births and my younger sister has a set of twins but my kids are IVF. He ((FFK) wanted sons particularly, he already had five girls.
Did you ask for triplets in particular?
No, I had a phobia for having many kids. I was just keen on having only boys. Normally I just wanted two births but he was so keen with having sons so when it turned out triplets it was okay with me.
So that must have put an immense amount of pressure on you
No, no. He wanted boys so we went straight for assisted conception. He was excited, delighted.
Did he have any particular reason for wanting boys?
Maybe the lineage thing? To keep his father’s name going and all of that. I was quite young then, about 25. I wasn’t under any pressure. It was just him that wanted sons at that time.
I wasn’t even prepared to have kids. It wasn’t something I gave any serious thoughts. The possibilities were high because of my age so I just went for it.
There has been a lot of controversy around your separation. What really is happening?
A whole rollercoaster, a lot of drama. The whole relationship became a problem at some point. They are all issues we are trying to resolve so I wouldn’t want to keep on painting and blaming and all that. I think there was no respect. I was giving what I wasn’t getting emotionally- support and so on.
For me, getting involved with him was getting involved with someone much older and wiser, like a guardian. I had a very good relationship with my dad, he was my best friend…
I guessed you must have had a great relationship with your dad or some other male figure…
Yes. I looked up to him for guidance, instruction, he wasn’t much of a controlling figure in my life but he went with anything I felt okay with but I usually liked to get that go- ahead or not.
Sometimes I could be stubborn with him and he kicked against me marrying an older person. When I gave reasons he just kept looking at me, it’s not that he okayed it.
I do lots of masculine things just because of him. I whistle like a boy, do sports. That relationship made me able to deal with older people .
I didn’t have many relationships as a young girl. I didn’t start dating early- in my second year in the university.
Most people that have issues of that nature, you have to check your background. I come from a home where you don’t speak when your dad speaks, you don’t throw tantrums. If my dad got upset with me, what I would do was cry.
That was what I took into the relationship with the father of my kids. I wasn’t much of a speaker but I learned how to speak and fight for myself on that journey because it was as if people took advantage of my calmness and gentility and not being able to speak. My reactions were basically when I felt I couldn’t take it any more and at that point, it would seem sort of like insubordination because he is used to hierarchy, command and such things.
I don’t know how to pretend and sometimes I could walk away, leave. He comes back, apologises, we work things out but in some days it repeats itself. There was just too much of that back and forth. I had no choice than to walk away.
At the back of your mind were you thinking he was going to adjust to your needs at some point?
Every woman prays there is an adjustment. I am an Ibo girl. In my place if you tell them you are leaving they tell you there is no space for you, go back to your husband’s house. We don’t have space for you.
My mum never packed evening they had misunderstandings. At some point I noticed it was draining me, I was not maximizing my potentials. That was the last straw for me. I have a very active brain and I was not utilizing it. I felt I was useless.
He didn’t want me interacting, wanted his wife to carry herself in a certain way but that wasn’t me. I did construction, mining, I was a beauty queen, an actress…
Even when I was with him I got to work on some of his writeups. Some things had my signature on them. I don’t know how to sit down and be dormant.
Did you try to reach out to him?
Actually, when I had my first son there was this big issue we had because I went to buy sewing machines and opened up a fashion house without his permission. We had a very huge problem with that. After a while he left it, insisted on closing it down.
He just felt his wife should not do certain things
Initially you would feel like you can cope, manage, compromise for some time but it just gets to a point where you can’t compromise any more. I needed to be active.
Sometimes I felt used. I am not that woman that sits at home and have someone provide my every need.I am still young.
Emotionally, was it a big rollercoaster for you?
Yes but maybe because I was quite young he saw me as a small girl. It wasn’t the respect he would give to someone in his age bracket but with this misunderstanding all of that has been fixed because he got to see my strength at a level he didn’t expect. He didn’t expect me to fight as much as I did to drag and get my kids was another eye opener for him.
Was he expecting that you would just leave the kids for him?
I think a huge part of him because I am naturally a quiet person, I don’t fight, I accommodate everybody, so he was expecting me to give up and say I am not doing this anymore.
Do you feel free now to pursue your interests?
Yes I feel at peace. I had an NGO even before I got married since 2014. I am taking challenges I never thought I could take. I fielded an HR company where I do recruitment for companies that are starting newly.
Basically, things I love to do- creation, building, organizing. I am happy and at peace.
Who is behind the comeback rumours? What is really going on?
Linda Ikeji claimed she heard it from a source close to the couple, so she claimed.
Of course we are co-parenting, so we do PTA meetings for our kids together. If any of them is sick they stay beside me. That’s so childish. We’ve gone past that. We’ve talked, apologies were made because it shouldn’t have gone as bad as it did. If conversations were held, quietly, peacefully and not with the stories that I had to deal with, I don’t think there would have been an issue.
Maybe there would have been a chance at reconciliation. Fake stories were published about me that would take me a while to clear my name from.
Such as which ones?
That I am a mad person. I was charged with murder twice. I was docked and those things are not things I will overlook. All those are things I cannot just look away from without bringing closure to them.
Maybe in the future, I don’t know but I like where we are now unlike when we were a couple. It’s a lot better.
Well, there is nobody that will be having fun and walk away…
The truth is that if he was pleasant I would have stayed for the sake of the kids but he was not. I think we have a better friendship now, at least we talk without stress. Everybody is mindful of not pissing off each other. There is nobody trying to talk down or undermine the other person. We have kids together and it’s not going to change.
But how are the kids taking it? They are young
My children are happy that they have their mother back in their lives. I noticed that some of them were withdrawn, they didn’t talk. Sometimes they would ask questions about the last two years, why I wasn’t there, and I try to find a way to answer but the joy they have with their mother is there.
Does their dad realise that?
He is thankful, happy. He knows better now, that you can’t take a child’s mother away from them. There is always going to be a difference between the way I take care of them and another person will take care of them. We have a formula. I don’t intend to cut him off, deny him access to his children.
I have suitors, lots of suitors, but I’m not a baby factory. It’s not a big deal but for now I should focus on the kids. I don’t see the prospect of marrying immediately.
In the light of that, if I were FFK’s advocate, what are the chances you would consider getting back with him if only for the sake of the children?
I don’t see that happening right now. I am just enjoying the peace. I am at peace with myself and everybody around me.
About suitors, do you have any on your case that is determined and doesn’t mind your kids? Someone that has shown love and affection?
Men will always be men. Most men think they can but they can’t. You don’t look for it, it happens when you are not looking.
You’re aware of FFK’s new girlfriend and she has contact with your kids.
Are you planning to have a conversation with him about that?
It’s on him. He is the one who is going to decide whether she’s suitable for his children or not. If she gets along with my kids, I will know. If she doesn’t, she’s a woman, she’s free to have hers as well.
You know he is in the middle of the campaign season.
I wouldn’t want something that would make him look bad. We’ve gone past that. Most people think he did all of this because of the campaign, letting me have access to my kids. That’s not true, I will be honest…
How would you know? I mean why would he keep them from you in the first place?
This whole settlement thing happened before he was even linked to the campaign. The children were his priority because it had gotten to the point where some of them were not even communicating.
You know when you have a relationship where so many people were involved. In those days if it wasn’t the pastors, it was the exit Ghana. There were too many, this person said, that one said…
Someone told him I was going to take the kids, run away from Nigeria . It made him difficult.
That is what most married people should look out for. I don’t think there’s anything two people who sit down and talk cannot resolve