Ooni and i serving Nigeria by having many wives — Ned Nwoko
On a lighter mood with lawyer and philanthropist, Prince Ned Nwoko, at his Idumuje-Ugboko country home in Delta State last weekend, the politician, who is contesting the Delta North senatorial election, spoke on some family issues, especially about men from the southern part of the country not marrying more than one wife, thereby pushing some women into prostitution, among others.
Talking about him and the Ooni of Ife having many wives, Nwoko said: “Let me tell you the similarity between me and the Ooni of Ife, apart from both of us having more than one wife, my grandfather and his grandfather were both in the House of Chiefs in the Old Western Region in the 1950s. They were part of the select few that went to London for the constitutional conferences.
“My grandfather and the Ooni’s grandfather and the then Olowo of Owo took many photographs together. So, the Ooni and I have that kind of common background, because our grandfathers were kings and served Nigeria in that capacity. And we are now also serving Nigeria by having many wives (laughter).”
Asked if he lives with all his wives or if they live in different, separate places, Nwoko replied: “No, no, no! That’s why when I was taking you round the palace, I said if it were in those days, I would have showed you some rooms where my wives would have been living. But my wives are big women too, in their own rights.
“So, they have their different homes. Two are in New York, in the United States (US), two are here in Nigeria and two are in Dubai. But sometimes, they meet here; here is the meeting point,” he said.
How then does he bond with his children living in different places and the children among themselves too? Nwoko explained: “Apart from all of us meeting here sometimes, I don’t travel with my wives together; I travel with one wife at a time. It’s only like once it happened that I travelled with Regina and Laila. But normally, I travel with the kids, the younger kids.
“I have 19 children now. My first child is 30 years old. Those with my first wife are all graduates now. In fact, my last child with her made a First Class last year in England. So, they are on their own; they are independent and go on holidays with their friends, not even with me or their mother who is a lawyer.
“My second wife is into business.”
Asked if all his wives are still with him, he said, “Of course, yes. It was only Laila that I had issues with when she went on holiday in London, but we are back together again; we are ok now.”
On his favourite wife, Nwoko explained, “Of course, the favourite is always going to be the last or latest wife (which is Regina). That’s a natural thing. You know it’s like if you have a new shirt, that is going to be your favourite one.”
Meanwhile, it would appear that Nwoko likes them fair, but not really, as he explained that his first wife is the same colour as him.
Though Nkoko’s first and second wives, and even his children, don’t like social media, it was Regina that actually introduced social media to him, “Am just tagging along,” he noted, adding, “It’s only Instagram that I use, which she opened for me, and of course, I have always known Whatsapp. I seldom post things on Instagram, but I have about 530 followers. I don’t do Facebook and it was only last week that I began to think of doing Twitter.”
On how he copes with trolling on social media, he recalled: “Sometimes, people post that I am marrying this girl or that girl, even when I don’t even know who they are talking about.”
Nwoko strongly believes men who refuse to marry more than one wife contribute to immorality in society, especially in the south, saying: “Many women are out there on their own without husbands, especially in the southern part of the country, and there is a high level of prostitution. What some of our girls do to make ends meet is regrettable and if our men emulate their northern counterparts by having more than one wife, that could probably change the situation.
“The average southern may have only one wife, but many girlfriends also, and he is spending his money on the girlfriends; sometimes even more than on his wife. The man who has three wives, for instance, concentrates on them and his children; every money he makes is spent on the family and he is more likely not to have any girlfriends or concubines. The money those with several girlfriends spend on them is a gift, not an investment in the family.”
He continued: “Beyond that, I hear southerners complain, saying how could the north, which is semi-desert and arid, be more populated than the south that is rainforest, with oceans, etc. But the answer is simply that the southerners are marrying one wife and giving birth to an average of four children, while the average northerner marries four wives and has up to 20 children.
“So, the south may never catch up with the north, in terms of population. We deceive ourselves by saying they are counting cows and cattle, which is not true, because they are actually counting human beings, their children from their wives.
“All you can now do is, if there is any law that stops you from marrying wives, it should be relaxed so that you can behave like your grandfathers and great-grandfathers who were very strong men before the advent of the whites, who came and told you it should be one man, one wife.”
On single parent, which is becoming popular among ladies now, he said, “it’s because of men who leave them and do not take care of them. If most of us in the south marry four wives, there will almost not be any prostitution business anymore, because they will be at home as wives.”
Asked what would happen when the man is unable to cater for them, he explained, “Look, I have drivers from the north who have wives. Are they, for example, earning more than you? Here in the south, some men have money to take girlfriends out and cater for them, but they don’t want to marry them as wives.”
As for Regina’s contribution to his campaign, he said: “I don’t really know, but we are both Anioma son and daughter seeking votes from Anioma people. So, it makes sense to go around together asking our people to give us their support. Probably that’s the difference between her and my other wives, especially as far as campaigning for political office is concerned.”