Yetunde is the first daughter of Senator Femi Okurounmu. She talks about her father with TOPE OMOGBOLAGUN
Tell us briefly about yourself.
My siblings and I are quite similar to my father in a number of ways. We all cherish education and hard work. We are also not very “traditional” in our approach to things. We all have an interest in politics and enjoy a good debate.
How was it like growing up with your father?
When we were younger, we saw him as strict and aloof. We only started to appreciate him as we became adults. He did not believe in frivolities. He focused on character building.
Your father seems like a strict person. How was growing up like with him?
I will not describe him as strict but rather as disciplined. He was able to communicate to us the difference between right and wrong without ever hitting us. He taught us how to discuss issues with him. We soon learnt that the best way to get anything from him was to be able to explain to him why you “needed” what you were requesting.
We also knew that he preferred us to always own up if we did anything wrong rather than tell lies. Also, we had a healthy fear of him and would run out of the room if he was around. We did not want to be caught touching the walls, leaning against it or doing anything of the sort.
How many are you in the family?
There are several including spouses and grandchildren to the glory of God.
What professions are your siblings into?
My siblings are into a wide variety of things including transport development, property development, actuarial science, health care and estate management.
What are some of the fond memories you can remember growing up with him?
There are many. Some of them included measuring two teaspoons of evaporated milk for him into his tea like he used to do during his student days, learning to pour him beer without the froth spilling over, his unannounced visits while we were in the university and so on.
One of my sisters got to hang out with him and his friends while he was a senator and got to be his young ‘girlfriend’ at a few of the special events he attended. New Year’s Eve was also a special occasion, going to church, praying and relaxing together. All these are some of the fond memories I wouldn’t exchange for anything.
Did he share his views about the country with you especially in line with the Afenifere dream for the Nigerian project?
My father is very passionate about Nigeria and yes, he shares his dreams about the country with us. He also shares his frustrations and disappointments on many occasions.
How has your father influenced your career choice?
My father guided us without being pushy. One of my sisters was very good at mathematics and did not know what to do at the university. My father told her about Actuarial Science and suggested she give it a go. She is now a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. Another sister studied engineering following in his steps. I did Law as I was not good at mathematics.
My father also never follows tradition blindly. He examines things for himself and he speaks the truth even when it is uncomfortable. This certainly has challenged and guided us when we also have needed to make choices and decisions.
Is your father’s frank opinions on issues same with the way he converses with family members?
Absolutely yes! This has helped us to have frank opinions too although we are not necessarily always as forthright in voicing them. It took a while to understand that when he expresses himself forthrightly, it does not mean that he is angry.
Is any of his children into politics?
We are all interested in politics in one form or the other.
Are his children as bold as he is?
Yes, we are all bold although in varying degrees.
What are the lessons you have learnt from him?
I have learnt contentment. He leads a simple life and he is very comfortable in his skin. He does not try to impress or be like anyone else. Also, I learnt discipline and hard work from him. He taught us to be independent and to be great thinkers. He is also able to acknowledge if he is wrong about something.
How does your father’s name open doors for you?
He is well respected and so that tends to gain one an audience. It also means that people have high expectations of us.
How does his family feel whenever he speaks truth to power or expresses his mind on national issues?
I see my father as a brave man and I respect him for that. I’m proud that he is bold and will never cease to express himself when he feels strongly about it. One or two of us stutter. We learnt from our father to always be bold and never cease to express our self no matter what.
Did he create time for his children?
My father did the best he could I would say, juggling all he had in this plate. He became active in politics at a young age, so I will say not so much when we were younger as he was very busy but as we grew older, he has taken interest in each and every one of us.
How did he discipline any child who misbehaved?
Whenever any of us did anything wrong, he would give the person a stern talking.
Did he ever receive any threats?
He probably did but he will not share that sort of thing with us. Even now he does not like us being worried or concerned for his sake.
What is his favourite food?
Probably best to ask his wife. He is however adventurous and will try new things.
How does he relax?
He relaxes by taking long walks and sitting on his balcony watching nature. He also loves to play and watch lawn tennis. We call Venus, and Serena his “adopted” daughters. Although I can’t really say he is relaxing when he watches them play.
What music does he love to listen to?
I have never known him to really listen to music. His drivers tend to choose the music in the car. He did enjoy some Jazz the last time he was with me.
What is his favourite dressing style?
His favourite dressing style is simple and comfortable, however it comes.
How did he feel when he lost his re-election to the Senate?
As it is for anyone, he would have been quite disappointed. He is however quite mature and able to absorb disappointments and shocks. He is able to move on with life leaving disappointments behind.
What are the things people don’t know about your father?
He is a very simple man. He doesn’t need or ask for much. He is content with whatever he has and he is he is non-traditional.
If you had the chance of changing anything about your father, what would it be?
Maybe his voice when he is involved in a heated debate. As a child, it used to frighten me, otherwise, nothing. He has been a very giving, understanding and kind father. We are proud of him.