The Union between billionaire business man and chairman of Eleganza Group of companies, Rasaq Akanni Okoya, the Otun Aare of Lagos and his wife Shade Okoya who runs some of his prime businesses is without a doubt, a study on enduring marriages. And why not? Not many people gave them a chance. Some wondered at their age difference while others questioned the motive behind the union. While Chief Razaq who is also the chairman of RAO investment property company limited is 75, Shade who holds a honorary doctorate degree in Business Management and Corporate Leadership from the European American University is 37. But 16 years after, they have both proved pundits wrong, showing that theirs is a match made in heaven. They both open up about their marriage, business and lifestyle
How do you feel celebrating your husband at 75?
I’m very happy. Actually the birthday was in January but we went to Saudi Arabia for prayers. On our return, the Pat Utomi Foundation which is the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) said they wanted to give him an award, which is why we’re here today to celebrate him.
How do you feel seeing him honoured for his works as a businessman?
It is a well-deserved honour. As you can see from what people are saying, he’s a hardworking man and he has contributed to the growth and the development of the country.
No doubt you are the closest person to him, and so many people have said so many things about him, tell us one thing you think people do not know about him?
He’s a very simple man. And I don’t think there is anything that people do not know about him He’s a cheerful person as well who always wants his friends around him. Also he is generous to a fault. He is kind, a good father and a good husband.
If you have the opportunity to marry him again, would you?
Of course I will choose him all over again. I’m happy to be with him and I will do this all over again without hesitation.
In your 16 years of marriage to him, what are some of the things you learnt from him that has rubbed off on you?
My husband is my mentor and I think I have learnt a lot from him in terms of hard work. I know that when you work it pays off because you get to enjoy the fruit of your labour. So, I think I learnt that from him. Again, he is a very humble man. Irrespective of your age or who you are, he respects you even if you are younger than him. He’s a hardworking man, trustworthy, loyal and always there for people. He’s a friend for all season.
How would you described him as a businessman?
Chief Rasaq Okoya is a very good and shrewd businessman. He started with little or nothing that he got from his mother who loaned him the 70 pounds he started business with. A 70pound loan in those days is what has turned into the business empire you see today. So you can imagine all the hard work he has put in.
Would you agree that you are the good business woman you are
today by association with your husband?
I suppose so. My husband instilled good work ethics and business skills in me. He’s hardworking. I met him doing business, so I had no choice but to try and fit in. He’s my mentor and I have no doubt learnt a lot from him. So, I think I’m happy doing what I do.
What has been the secret of your marriage?
16 years down the line, I think I can talk about marriage now. My husband is a happy man, so I have no choice but to allow joy and happiness to always take centre stage in my home. Also I believe the secret has been the love that we share and the fact that we are very fond of each other and I respect him a lot.
Obviously Chief Razaq is a very businessman judging by the number of businesses he runs. How did you both make time for each other?
We travel a lot together and we have fun whenever we travel. And when we are here, we work together as well.
How do you cope with the challenges of being a mother, wife and also a businesswoman?
I think everything is working together because my children too come to the factory once in a while when they come back from school or anytime they are on holidays or during the weekends. And like I said before, I love what I do, so I don’t see it as work. I enjoy what I do and going home after the day’s job is another kind of fun for me. So, I’m always looking forward to either being in the office or at home. It is just about me being happy with what I do.
What does fashion means to you and how would you describe your fashion sense?
Fashion means comfort to me. But I guess people who see will be in a better position to determine if I have any fashion sense. That is not for me to say.
Would you describe yourself as a fashionable person?
I don’t know but my children tell me that often. So, I think I’m fashionable. And I love to look good.
What determines what you wear?
The occasion, my mood and I make sure I dress to fit where I’m going to.
How do you keep fit?
I’m always working. I think that’s part of the things that helps me. And I love to cook. So eating and working, everything just work hand-in-hand.
What do you wish your husband at 75?
I wish him all the very best. He’s a hard worker, he’s a generous man, happy man and he loves people, so what else will you wish such a man. I wish him long life and that God should give him the good health he wants. I want every other thing to fall in place and work out for good for him.