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INTERVIEW: My Children, Others Say I Resemble Lagos State Governor – Self-acclaimed Sanwo-Olu’s Son –

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My Children, Others Say I Resemble Lagos State Governor – Self-acclaimed Sanwo-Olu’s Son

My Children, Others Say I Resemble Lagos State Governor – Self-acclaimed Sanwo-Olu’s Son

Twenty-seven-year-old Emmanuel Sanwo-Olu, who filed a suit in the Delta State High Court in Effurun, seeking a declaration that the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is his father, tells ALEXANDER OKERE why he is going the extra mile to prove that the governor is his father

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Emmanuel Sanwo-Olu. I am from Oleri community in the Udu Local Government Area of Delta State. My mother is from Oleri. I am 27 years old.

What is your current occupation?

At the moment, I don’t have one.

Do you have any academic qualifications, primary, secondary or tertiary?

No.

Are you really married with children as you claimed?

Yes.

How many kids do you have?

I have three kids.

Recently, you filed a suit asking a court to declare that the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is your father. Can you narrate how you got to that point?

As a young boy, I lived with my grandmother. She is very old now. I used to bear the name of my mother’s father and it is not supposed to be like that. I was supposed to be told the name of my father but it was hidden from me. I was told that the man (my father) came to Delta to work in 1994 and that was when my mother met him. The first pregnancy my mother had for him was aborted at a general hospital. She got pregnant the second time, and an attempt was made to abort it but it was not successful. He used to take my mother to hotels in Benin City (Edo State) but he did not tell her about his family. He told my mother on a walkie-talkie that he had a sister at the Petroleum Training Institute and advised her to contact his sister any time she wanted to locate him. While he and my mother were together, he got to know my mother’s village.

My mother told me that he is left-handed and that his name is Sanwo-Olu but I did not know whether that was his real name or nickname. My grandmother, who is 120 years old now, prayed for me to appreciate how I took care of her. She said my children would take care of me the way I cared for her. He also said my father would look for me because he was a humble man who greeted people in the village each time he came.

Did your mother inform your father when she was pregnant with you?

My mother told me that she informed the man that she was pregnant. She said he never returned when he was transferred to Maiduguri (in Borno State). When my mother went to PTI to meet the woman he said was his sister, she found out that she had left the place. So, my mother kept the pregnancy and told me to answer her father’s name out of vexation. She said she did not have a problem with the man (Sanwo-Olu) but that he just left her.

As I grew older, I told my mother that I would like to know my father because a child comes into existence through a man and a woman. But she said though the man was nice to her family, he did not return after he went away and she couldn’t tell why. She also said she did not know whether he was dead or alive but I believed that he was alive.

I have three children and I had to tell my wife that should the time come for me to pay her bride price, she should know that I don’t have a father. She had asked me about my father and I had to lie. But I later had to open up to her. When the time to pay her bride price comes, who will accompany me to her place as relatives from my father’s village? As a man, it affects me. I don’t know my father’s village, so I can’t hide that from my wife who suffered and had children for me.

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How did you identify the Lagos governor as your father?

While I was on a trip, my wife told me that she was watching the news on TV when she saw a man named Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who claimed to have been to the Niger Delta in the past. I did not know the man physically, so when I returned, I told my wife to tune in to the station at the next news hour. As I was watching, I saw the man and I was shocked. So, I called my mother and asked her whether she would recognised the face of the man that got her pregnant if she saw him and she said yes.

Sanwo-Olu's Son
Sanwo-Olu’s Son

What did you do next?

I went on Instagram and sent him a message (to the governor). I wrote that he looked like my father and that he came to Warri at a certain time. I got a reply telling me not to worry and that I would be reached. I knew he (Sanwo-Olu) was not the person that responded to my message but with that joy, I downloaded the man’s picture and those of other men and showed them to my mother. I added other men’s pictures so it would not look like I limited her choice to one picture.

As she was swiping and checking the pictures, she saw the photo of the governor of Lagos State and she said, “Na your papa be this o”. She identified him as the man she had a child for and started crying and lamenting how he made her suffer. I was also shocked and told her I couldn’t believe it because for the years I suffered with my children, I never knew this man (Sanwo-Olu) could be my father. But she insisted that she could recognise him even if her eyes were closed.

I thought it would be easy for me to see him, so I sold some of my property to raise some money to travel to Lagos to see him. When we got to Ijebu Ode, we made some enquiries, that we were looking for a man named Sanwo-Olu, and were told that only the governor of Lagos was known as the bearer of that name but when we got to Lagos and didn’t have enough money to stay, we had to return to Warri. I realised that the issue was not one that can be handled by me alone, so I took it to court.

When were you first informed that the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is your father?

It was last year (2021) but I had earlier been disturbing my mother to tell me who my father is.

You claimed that the governor had an amorous relationship with your mother while he was working for a private company in Warri. Do you know the name of the company or what its business was at that time?

It was a road construction company. I was told that he used to wear a helmet and was conveyed to the construction site in a Hilux pick-up. My mother described him as very intelligent. My mother told me about Babajide Sanwo-Olu a long time ago.

How long ago?

It has been over 20 years since she first told me about him.

Why did you not take the matter to court before he became a governor or when you became an adult?

I didn’t take the matter to court long ago because I had not seen his face; I was only told. I was 11 years old when I was first told about him and was not mature enough to take the matter to court. I am not after his money.

Some Nigerians who read your story didn’t believe the governor could have a 27-year-old son like you who already has three children. What is your response to that?

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It is not a crime to have three kids at 27 and claim that the governor of Lagos State is my father. I do not live a wayward life. I take care of my children. It is good for him to know that the child he had has children, so he has grandchildren.

How old are your children?

The eldest is four years old, the second is two years old while the last one is one year old.

Are you concerned about the reactions you have received since your story went viral?

If he had responded to our claim, I wouldn’t have taken the matter to court. I didn’t take it to court to tarnish his image but to prove that I am his son. When that is done, I can stay on my own because I have children I take care of.

I have been struggling alone but still looking for a way to find him because I may get a job at his family house, unknown to me that it is my father’s family. I know my mother’s village and her siblings but I don’t know my father or his relatives.

Have you been contacted by anyone from the governor’s office?

No.

What about his family members?

No.

Have you been contacted by anyone who opposed your claim?

No. The reactions I have received are from people who said I look like the man (Sanwo-Olu).

Are there members of your mother’s family who were aware of the relationship and pregnancy she had for your father?

Yes. One of my mother’s sisters is still around. She was in the village when he used to visit.

When you look at the governor, what physical features convince you that he is your father?

Even my children confirmed that he is my father when the shock I felt when I first saw his picture didn’t allow me to identify him as my father. Two of my kids look like him.

You said earlier that the governor was left-handed. Are you also left-handed?

No, I use both hands.

Some Nigerians argue that you’re doing this to get attention and to smear the image of the governor who is seeking reelection. Is that true?

I am not doing it because I think he is wealthy. I just want to know my father because a child is a product of two people. Also, I have children, and one day, they will ask me to tell them where they are really from. That is why I am looking for my father. I am not smearing his image. I am not doing this because I want to damage his reputation. I even pray for him to win. I have tried all means to reach him, yet he wants to deny me and my mother. My mother is still alive to identify who got her pregnant.

What will you do if the governor doesn’t waive his immunity and subject himself to a DNA test?

I won’t do anything. If he refuses to subject himself to a DNA test, that will confirm my claim that he is truly my father. If I confirm that he is my father and a governor and is doing well, I would be happy that I have a father. If my father is physically-challenged, I would also accept him as my father. I won’t envy what someone else enjoys because God will give me mine.

How did you cope as a child without a father?

People mocked me on the streets. They called me a bastard. They let me know that I have no father and told me to look for him. You can imagine having children of your own but not knowing who your father is. It disturbs me as a man. Sometimes, when I look at my children, I weep because I have children to care for but didn’t have a father to love me. It is painful.

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