A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja branch, Mr. Monday Ubani, discusses what fatherhood has taught him with MOTUNRAYO JOEL.
What is your concept of fatherhood?
My concept of fatherhood is to be a loving father to my children and wife. To ensure that I lead them on some basic virtues of life such as hard work, knowledge of God, fear and respect for God and elders. I strive to demolish selfishness in the lives of my children. I also make sure that whatever they do in life, they exhibit a sense of altruism; that is, they consider others first in all they do. I want to make sure that they have integrity and honesty as their virtues. I strive to build a family with strong moral values. I also strive to meet up with my fatherly duties and ensure that my children remain united.
Can you recall your major experience as a father?
My most memorable experience was when my first son was born even though I was not prepared for some of the things I witnessed at that time. We had to wake up at night whenever he cried, other times we could not sleep until he slept. While he was growing up, one day I entered my bedroom and met some money I put there scattered all over the room. It was a total mess. I got upset with what he did and spanked him. Surprisingly, after that incident, he grew into an adult overnight. I cannot recall his age but I know he was still crawling at the time. I was surprised at his change of attitude. He never misbehaved after that day. I am not sure if he would recollect that incident. I cannot forget it, may be because it surprised me.
What are the things you have learnt from your children?
One thing I learnt is the importance of patience. As parents, we need to be patient with our children as they grow up. At the same time, we should not spare the rod. Whenever the need arises to correct them, we should do so. By the grace of God, all my children are well-behaved. They exhibit a high level of maturity. We should not allow our children behave in the way they choose.
How did you bond with your children?
I used to play with them whenever I returned from work. I would sing songs to put them to sleep. I realised that singing calmed them down. I specialised in making them fall asleep.
Did you change their diapers?
No, I did not. I was very bad at that. I did not do that but I cooked. In my house, I think I cook the best stew.
So you cook better than your wife?
No, my wife is the better cook. In fact, she cooks all sorts of meals. I cannot compete with her when it comes to cooking native soups. She cooks all sorts of native soups. My only specialisation is stew. I am still of the opinion that I cook the best stew.
How do you pamper your wife?
We used to go out for dinners but because of our tight schedules, we do not enjoy that anymore. I love going out to eat once in a while. Apart from that, I love buying her clothes whenever I travel. I make the best choice for her in terms of colour and quality. There is a particular shop I go to in the United Kingdom to buy things for her. She loves my choice of clothes.
What is the most valuable thing you bought for your wife?
She has cars. She loves jeeps. I had one of her cars customised in her name – it was a Pathfinder. We are planning to sell the car so I can buy her a new one. She loves big cars. I’m trusting to God to bless me so I can buy her a big car.
How often do you buy her cars?
I think she has used up to five or six cars since she came into my life. She is presently using a Camry Toyota 2009 model but I know she loves big cars.
How would you say fatherhood changed you?
When you become a father, there are certain traits one needs to let go. I had become more patient; I used to be hot-tempered. As a father, one’s children and wife look up to one. Sometimes, one allows things pass by and not complain. When I was younger, I used to complain of certain things but now (being a father), it is not everything I see that I complain about. Fatherhood has calmed me down. I do not get angry easily anymore. I now weigh things before I act. There are things I cannot do anymore as a father. I also allow the spirit of God to guide me in all that I do.
Raising kids, especially with the intention of giving them the best, is not an easy task. We have to enrol them in private schools, teach them the way of God, ensure that they listen to instructions among other things. I want to celebrate my wife who goes the extra mile in caring for my children when I am not around. She is an excellent mother and wife.
What would you have loved to do differently as a father?
Maybe give my children more of my time. If I’m given another opportunity, I would love to spend more time with my children. I have two of them who are already in the university. By the time you know it, they are out of school and marriage is the next thing. The only time I enjoy them now is when they are on holidays. I go out with them more when they are on holidays.
Some Nigerian fathers have a preference for a particular gender of children. What is your view on this?
With my level of enlightenment and education, every child is a blessing. Now, we are all aware that girls take care of their parents more, but I love all my children equally. I get along with all of them. I cherish them all. There is no Saturday that I do not go out with my last child. Every night, whenever I get back from school, we talk about how his day went.
What is your take on fathers doing house chores?
I do not see anything wrong in that if the father has the capacity and time. There is absolutely nothing wrong in assisting one’s wife with house chores especially if one’s wife works and has a busy schedule. If the man has the time and capacity, he should help with domestic chores. In my case, I have people that assist me in that area. If I have the time, there is nothing wrong in doing it.
Do you spoil your kids with gifts?
I would not use the word spoil, but if you ask me if I give my children gifts, I would say yes. If I am able to buy what they need, I get it for them. My son, for example, is a good dresser; he won an award for best dresser in his faculty – Law. He loves shirts and ties; whenever I travel, I buy them for him.
Did you influence your son’s career choice?
I would not say no, probably since his father is a lawyer, he also wants to be a lawyer. My second son also wants to be a lawyer. In fact, my daughter says she wants to be a lawyer too. It is only my third son who is an engineering student.
I am sure you are happy about your children’s decision to follow in your footsteps.
You can say that again. I am happy.
What lessons did your father teach you?
There is a type of leadership one learns naturally and there is another one reads about. I think I am one that likes to lead. I do not like to be in an environment where things are not going right. I discovered this about me at a young age. I love to lead people. I was once a boy scout. In the university, I was the leader of a Christian group. I was also the chairman of one of biggest and most respected branches of the Nigerian Bar Association – Ikeja branch. I am currently the second Vice President of the NBA. I have assumed many leadership roles. I believe I lead very well by the grace of God.
What was the profession of your father?
My father did not attend school. He is still alive though; he lives with me. He did not read up to the level I did, but he ensured I did. In fact, he wanted me to be a mechanic. I guess I would have been a mechanic with a difference – the most renewed mechanic.