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Excerpts From Motherhood In-Style’s Interview With Peter & Lola Okoye

Excerpts From Motherhood In-Style’s Interview With Peter & Lola Okoye

One half of P-Square, Peter Okoye and his beautiful wife, Lola Omotayo, graced the previous issue of Motherhood In-Style Magazine with their cute kids; Cameron (6) and Aliona (2) and shared on being parents, their relationship, speculations making the rounds, and so much more.

Read excerpts from the interview:

Major milestones as a couple

Lola: As a mother, for me, having our children has been a major. Finding somebody you love and wanting to have children with that person, that was a major for me. I had been in relationships but there was none I really wanted to have kids with or thought about settling down with. When I met him I kind of knew. I saw in him qualities I didn’t see in other men I’d dated, so meeting him and realizing that oh my God this is that person was a major milestone for me. The most amazing was when we decided to tie the knot.

Did the age difference bother you initially?

Peter: Never. When l met her, I was satisfied with what l saw. It might have bothered the people around me then but now everyone has given up, they don’t have a choice, it’s my life. In fact, if it was an issue, I would have addressed it. I’ve learnt a lot from her that has made me a better man.

Lola: It never bothered me. From my mother’s family, I have aunties married to younger men and vice versa, so, it just never really stuck.

For me, I felt as long as we are on the same wave length mentally, and have similar goals, it’s okay. People say, ‘Oh, you’re a grandmother, oh, you’re a cougar,’ and I’m like when I met him, he pursued me. I told him my age from the onset, he continued to pursue me. I had no hiccups about the age. The reservations I had then had to do with him being a musician. Then at a point, I told myself, if you really care about him, go ahead. So, I told my family about him. People make the age factor an issue but it’s never been for us. I feel like I’m younger than him because he is a man and very mature and in control. In my other relationships where the guys were ten years or more older than me, l felt older, so it’s not about the age but the individual.

How have you rubbed off on each other?

Lola: Peter is a very focused individual, his attention to detail is just out of this world; he’s a perfectionist. That part has rubbed off on me. Because he’s a perfectionist, I’m not lazy when it comes to goals we want to achieve together. I think he has also helped me become friendlier. I’m very shy and like keeping to myself which people misconstrue for being stuck up or snobbish. Now, because he has plenty of friends, a lot of people come over, so, I’ve became a bit more relaxed. I joke around more than l used to.

Peter: I used to be ‘pako’ oh, serious ‘pako’. I wasn’t aware at all. If I took off my shoes here, that’s where it would be for days, but now that has changed and I take my time to do things. I’ve learnt a lot from her. She’s one of the most hardworking women I know. Since I met her, she has worked in three different companies. Now, she manages her dad’s oil company. It amazes me how people think she’s a gold-digger. If anybody should be called a gold-digger, it should be Peter Okoye because I couldn’t even boast of a hundred thousand Naira when I met this woman. I didn’t even have a car of my own. She had three and even gave me one. I’m so lucky, people should just respect her. Don’t forget before I met her, I had met a lot of women, so the question is why her? She is one of the few people who have always looked at me as Peter and not P-square. She knows me better than anyone.

Major highs and lows in your relationship

Lola: For me, highs in our relationship is when Peter is around because he is hardly around. It’s when we get to do a holiday together. Every holiday, he has to entertain other people, so for major holidays, we don’t get to see him. Lows in our relationship is when, and I’m being very honest, there’s a distraction on his part, and you can kind of tell, you know. It’s hard to be a celebrity or a musician in particular. Fans being attracted comes with the whole package; groupies that have this fantasy in their heads, but I’m grounded in my relationship and he’s also grown up a lot. He knows that’s all superficial and the real deal is what we have.

Also, when people just misunderstand us or me, there’s so much negativity out there, they think my life is all about Peter and the children or I don’t have any other desires, a job or life, and I’m like dude, I have a life outside of my relationship or marriage. That’s hard as well.

What kind of dad is Peter? 

Lola: He’s a hands-on dad, especially when we are abroad. He cooks, helps with the children; gives them a bath, changes diaper and goes on school run. He was at Aliona’s delivery. With Cameron, he had a show, so, he couldn’t make it. I wanted him to see the process, so, I think for him, it was a massive reality check. I was happy that he was there; the support was good.

Peter: I wasn’t at Cameron’s birth but I saw the video, and wanted to have the experience. At Aliona’s, it was amazing. I cleaned her up. The hospital bed was very large, so, it accommodated all of us. Cameron and I were allowed to stay at the hospital. We spent four days and within that period, my life changed. Whenever I see the two of them now, it feels like a dream. I’ve got so much more respect for women now. I’ve done plenty of campaigns for women, and I tell guys, you don’t know what they go through. You should never lay a hand on your woman. After that day, I had more respect for my wife, she noticed. I think every man should be at their child’s birth.

So, what was his reaction when you got pregnant?

Lola: He was not ready with Cameron, he was shocked. He was at the peak of his career. You know, he hadn’t hit 30 yet. I mean, he was freaking out and I was like, you know what, you don’t have to be with me, but I’m keeping this child. Not for any reason, but I’m 35, ready to be a mother. I love you, so it’s fantastic for me. I even said to him, if you don’t want anybody to know it’s your child, no problem. Just leave us, we’ll be fine. For like three to five months, it was a major struggle with his family and everybody. I was like, you know what guys, sorry, I’m keeping this baby. But it was a different story when Cameron was born. Aliona’s was planned.

You seem to have a good relationship with your sister-in-law, Anita

Lola: Well, we’ve known each other for as long as I’ve known Peter because she has been with Paul for quite long, about the same time or maybe a year longer. We have been through a lot of challenges together with the twins. You know, with their fame comes plenty of stuff, so, we’ve stuck together and worked through things. She’s like my blood. We do everything together, our kids; Aliona and Andre, are in the same class and are best friends, like twins.

There were speculations that your mother-in-law didn’t approve of your relationship. Is that true?

Lola: Initially, yes. Of course, you have to understand where she was coming from. She is an Igbo woman with famous sons and every mother has expectations. I probably would be like that as well; the age factor, the fact that I am half Yoruba and half something else, there are so many factors. Initially, I thought this was not going to work but Peter stuck by me. She was very cordial but you could tell that she wasn’t too happy about the relationship and I understood where she was coming from. I just hoped that we would have enough time to get to know each other, so she would look beyond those factors. She didn’t live in Lagos and would come only for a few days. But when Cameron came, she became more receptive. We started bonding a bit more, the years rolled by and she realized this woman is still here. We got past that.When she fell ill, I was there with her at the hospital every day and we bonded. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time but she was so open with me, and we became close. The day she called me my wife, l couldn’t believe it. I was like OMG, how many years? That was another major high for me, I forgot to tell you earlier. It sealed it. I thought maybe it was me but the sisters heard it as well. Then at my introduction, Peter’s dad mentioned it again and I was happy. You have to give parents the time to get to know you. If my son brings a girl, I would observe first. Any human being would do that, so I never faulted her. I just wanted her to be able to see me for who I am. That time came and she did.

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There were also rumours that you and your brother-in-law, Jude, aren’t cool. He wasn’t at your wedding…

Lola: Jude and I don’t have any issues. Brothers have issues but people just assume that their issues have to do with me. Jude and Paul had issues prior to our wedding, just business decisions that they were trying to make and it just fell around that time and he didn’t show up for whatever reason. They’re brothers. I don’t want to get involved, but still remain cordial and respectful. Does he like me? We’re very cordial with each other, I have no issues with him. He comes to the house,  plays with the kids, we’re friendly but brothers would always have their issues. As a wife, I have to step back and not get involved. When Peter didn’t go to his wedding, issues of pay back or no pay back came up. I know that I begged my husband to attend. I’m sure both of them regret their actions. They love each other, you know, blood is thicker than water. Now, all of us are very close. They all have kids now and it’s a different ball game. The wives are friends, we all hang out together.

How did you feel being blamed for the P-Square break-up feud?

Lola: I think that was one of the lowest moments for me. I was very depressed because the issues they had had to do with management at work, but for some reason, it turns around and it’s about Lola. So, that really broke me to bits because I remember saying to him, ‘Do you know that within a day or two, this is going to be about me?’ He disagreed and before we knew it, the press was talking about it and my name came up. I was like, what did I do? I remember being at one grocery store and a woman came to me and said, ‘You are a witch! You are the one causing all these problems between these brothers.’ The brothers know it has nothing to do with me but people just have this fantasy about Lola wrecking P-square and I don’t know why. Peter and Paul, Anita and I and our kids are together most weekends now, we do stuff together, people don’t see that. Our children are close, why would l want to break that bond? People just create this fantasy in their heads that Lola has come to create problems.

Peter: People will talk but they don’t have a choice than to give up; I’ve made it that way. I’m a man, and the fact is that, I’ll be so weak to allow what people say affect me. People look at you and say, ‘Oh, her age, she’s Yoruba, she’s mixed race,’ I don’t care. Even if you’re my blood and you don’t want to understand that I love this person, then it’s your own cup of tea. Today, everybody in my family is cool and it’s so sad the way people put it like she’s trying to separate my family. I met her way before P-square got established, so why would she want to come between us now?

Lola, you opened up about being sexually molested as a child recently…

Lola: It was a project, ‘The Dare to Dream Project,’ basically to inspire young women and talk to them about experiences that made us what we are today and I just felt that it was important for me to give that as an example of not letting their past determine their future. It was in boarding school, I was young and a Catholic Priest molested me for years. I didn’t know who to talk to or where to run to. I didn’t go to my family because I didn’t think they would believe me. He was from Ireland and my parents almost entrusted me to him as someone that, maybe from my mum’s point of view, would understand me, so I could go to him for advice but he just took advantage of me. I was a kid and began to blame myself. Was I too friendly? I developed very quickly, so, I just hated that I didn’t know who to talk to and the whole thing just consumed me for many years until l moved to the States and went for counselling  and therapy. Then, I could deal with it and talk about it. I was just talking to these young women and it came up. That is a past that could have destroyed me; I could have died doing drugs or become rebellious in a very negative way. I used to counsel people who went through similar experience in the Juvenile hall when I was in the States. You could tell why they became so juvenile was because of those experiences. They didn’t know how to deal with it. It affected me being with men also. For so long, I didn’t want any sexual relationship with anybody but I walked through all of that. I didn’t let that negativity ruin my goals and future. That’s why l chose to speak with those young women. I didn’t talk about it in Nigeria until then, even my parents didn’t know.

Parents should talk to their children more. A lot of parents are afraid to bring up sex education. They should ask questions; is anyone touching you or acting funny around you? When you send your children to boarding school, you need to get more involved in their lives.

On physical abuse…

Lola: Yes. That was at the university; my first serious boyfriend, fantastic guy. I really cared about him. My parents knew him very well but he was so insecure. Again, people are violent because of so many things, we might not understand it. Maybe they were abused as children and have that anger running in them and don’t know how to deal with. He was so insecure that if any one looked at me, he would take me to the room and beat me up black and blue. I would get swollen everywhere and he did this all the time and we were together for five years. Then at a point, he lost control absolutely and started doing it publicly. So, one day, I just said, you know what, I can’t take this anymore. So, I decided we needed to break up and he thought it was a joke but I was like this is it, I can’t do this anymore. The aggression was such that he would knock one’s head on the wall, and so many ugly things could happen and you could lose your life in a second. So, I just had to take that step.

What do you have to say to women currently experiencing domestic violence?

Lola: I remember one of my friends at that period told me he’s beating me because he loves me. That is very twisted. If a man hits you, run because he’ll never stop. Your life is very important and you can lose it within a split second. The fear is the worst. That fear was real. I always had to assess his energy level and mood. There was that constant fear, being married to man like that; you’ll live in hell. That’s why when I broke up with him, I didn’t date for a very long time. I just wanted to heal and feel free. I didn’t want to answer to anyone. Domestic violence is dangerous. A slap there, push, knock, and we think it’s okay.

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