Tuesday, 21 February 2017

70th B’Day Exclusive: “Why Dad kicked against my marriage to Gen. Momah”—Wife of 48 Yrs reveals + Secret you don’t know about their war time romance

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Mrs. Christiana Ifeoma Momah & Husband, General (Dr.) Sam Momah (CFR)

Today, Tuesday, February 21 is the 70th birthday of Mrs. Christiana Ifeoma Momah, the pretty and amiable wife of two-time Minister of Science and Technology of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General  (Dr.)Sam Ifeanyichukwu Momah (CFR); although the event will be marked low keyed in Abuja with her darling husband, children and grand kids but this exclusives by Asabeafrika resonates the story of her 48 Years marriage to the General.   
In year 2013, during the 70th birthday of her husband in Abuja, your Africa’s Number  Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika met this Godly and beautiful lady who can be truly described as ‘The wife of the General’s Youth age’. The ebullient Madam Christy Momah who hosted us in her Abuja office told us the full story of her love life with a man who was widely rejected by members of her family including her late father but endorsed by God. Today, we produced the full story of that interview to commemorate her 70th birthday which is today, Tuesday, February 21, 2017.  She was born on Friday, February 21, 1947.

Mrs. Christiana Ifeoma Momah...Clocks 70 today
Mrs. Momah is a Master graduate degree holder in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Ibadan. The mother of four medical Doctors and one IT expert took Asabeafrika through her War years’ romance memoir and how she met and fell in love with the former adjutant General of the Nigerian Army and pioneer Commandant of the Nigerian War College, Abuja. It is a story of rejection, affection and perfection through the will of God Almighty. It is a story that would make a blockbuster movie for history. It is a story of hate and love, a story of depression and fulfillment. Enjoy the love story of General Sam and Madam Christy Momah.
The GDA meets Dr. (Mrs.) Christiana Ifeoma Momah
How would you describe your husband, General Sam Momah as his closest confidant of 48 years?
General Sam Ifeanyichukwu Momah....Ifeoma's annointed husband from heaven
I call him my prince charming and that is what he is. We have come a very long way, we met when I was 13 and we married when I was 21. We have been through various scenes of life, through mountains, through valleys but God was faithful and saw us through all. I give God the glory. Last year was a very, very rough year for us, health wise. He was very ill, as he was getting better, I fell ill. Although, very fatal ailments but God was awesome, He saw us through; so we are testifying to the glory of God, we are serving a living God. We are serving an awesome God. To Him is all the glory, now and always.
Mrs. Momah with her United State of America's based Doctor & Author Son, Dr. Tobe Momah & his wife, Rita Momah who joined us from the USA during the interview
I read a book authored by your third son, Dr. Tobe Momah titled “A General and A Gentle Man” which is the full autobiography of his dad.  In the book, he recalled how you both met in the course of the Nigerian Civil War Years and how your father kicked against the union. Can you kindly tell us the real story yourself?
The GDA in historic pose with Dr. Tobe Momah & his book, 'A General & Gentle Man'
When I look back I even wonder how I survived the entire experience because it was very traumatic. But you see, when God says ‘this will be’, it will surely come to pass. We had every challenge that you can imagine. We had every kind of challenge. I am the first daughter of my father; I have six senior brothers and a younger sister. I am his eldest daughter. So, he was very emotional about his daughter marrying, first, at age 21. I had not finished my university education and to crown it all, it was during the war. And to make it worse, he was a soldier.
Mrs. Ifeoma Momah in the heart of the encounter with the GDA
My father said ‘you this girl, you want to be a widow at the age of twenty one?’ what is wrong with you?’ ‘Your age mates are not yet married and you have not finished your education for God’s sake, what is wrong with you?. And to crown it all, he is from a very poor family.  He is from a very poor family, what is wrong with you?’ As far as they were concerned, I was mad. Something was wrong with me but today, it is good to testify, because the last week of my father’s life on earth, that was in 1983. I went to visit him as I usually do at weekends and as I was going, he started to bless me. He prayed for me, blessed me and told me that the only regret he had was that my husband did not come with me on that trip.
Madam Momah tells Asabeafrika the story of her life
That he needs to apologize to him that look at somebody he protested so much against; see how wonderful he turned out to be. That he is one child that is better than hundred children. And to think he fought him, that he needed to apologize to him. So, I told him, you are my father. I have only one father; you have a right to say anything about your daughter. He said ‘No, I was nasty to that young man. I need to apologize to him. Since, he is not here with you now, tell him, I am sorry about everything that happened since 1968. Remember to tell him, tell him ‘I am sorry. He should find a place in his heart to forgive me for all I did to him’. I said ‘Papa, why are you talking like this?’ He said ‘Because my time is up, my time is finished; I don’t have any time left’. And that was it; that was on Sunday, by Thursday, they sent word that he has passed on. I was informed on Friday and I was at home on Saturday.
Mrs. Momah to Asabeafrika...'My Dad described my husband as one child that is better than hundred children'
That he has been in coma since Thursday, Friday and Saturday. When I walked into his hospital room he opened his eyes and said to my mother, “Somebody came in, and her voice is like Ifeoma’s voice, is it Ifeoma?” That’s me, and my mother said “yes, she just walked in” and he nodded. And that was the last thing he said in this part of the world. That was the last thing he said, he was happy I had come. And then, that was the end, he moved up (Gave up the ghost).
Mrs. Momah to Asabeafrika....'Dad felt bad that he didn't initially supported my marriage to my husband'
What’s your dad’s name and what was his profession?
Mrs. Momah to Asabeafrika...'Dad gave his last apologies to General Sam Momah'
My father was a great man. He was a teacher. But you know teachers of those days are very accommodative; everybody in our town lived with us. Teachers were the greatest people then and that was why so many people stayed with us. My father trained so many people in our village; he was a highly respected man. His name is Chief Anakwenze from Abagana.
Mrs. Momah to Asabeafrika...'My Dad is a super disciplinarian. He never hid the rod'
So, your Dad was a disciplinarian?
Super disciplinarian
Mrs. Momah told the GDA full details of her war times romance experience with her husband'
What about your mum?
Mrs. Momah to Asabeafrika....'My Husband describes my Mum as an Angel from Heaven'
My husband describes my mum as an angel from heaven. That is how my husband always describes my mother. She is a highly spiritual lady. I always tell everybody how she used to wake me up when I was a very young girl, immediately I became a woman. When the whole world is asleep, she wakes me up around 1 and 2A.M in the night to start giving me moral talks. “You know you are my daughter, don’t do this. You can’t do this. Don’t allow men to come near you, if they touch you, o tan o. you are pregnant”. So, I grew up with that strict moral training from my mother.
Mrs. Momah shares a joke with the GDA
Her counseling did a lot for me, it helped to mold me, that even when I got married, my husband used to tell me ‘Look, I am not your boyfriend, I am your husband, if you need anything, let me know’ because my mother had told me that ‘if you take anything from men, you have to pay back in kind o. So, don’t accept anything from a man. So, my husband will tell me ‘I am your husband; I am not your boyfriend’ because I had already grown up with the idea that as a woman, you don’t take anything from men.
Mrs. Momah to Asabeafrika....'Mum gave me the impression that men never give anything for free'
That was as a result of Mama’s consistent counseling—‘you know you are my first daughter, don’t disgrace me o. you have to be exemplary because the whole world is looking at you, if you step wrongly, then, I am disgraced’.
What is her name?
The GDA and the General's wife in the heart of the encounter
Margret Anankwenze.
The Autobiography of General Sam Momah written by Ifeoma's Doctor Son, Dr. Tobe Momah, a Monroe, USA based family physician
Your son’s book also revealed that you married him at the middle of the Biafran war and he had to leave the war front to come and say “I do”. The day you married him, what was really going on in your mind? Were you scared that he might die in the war front?
L-R: Dr. Tobe Momah holding his book on dad, his wife Rita & Mum, Mrs. Ifeoma Momah
I told you when God wants something to be, He just makes it happen. We are only mortals; I don’t think we have control over many things. God is the sovereign power. But when I look back, I don’t even know where I got the courage to go on despite the protests from every member of my family. My brothers were mad at me, my cousins were mad at me.
Mrs. Momah to Asabeafrika....'For a long time, dad was not speaking to me over my decision to marry my husband until i had my third child, Tobe (Now Dr. Tobe Momah)'
My father was not even talking to me; he didn’t talk to me until I had my third son (Tobe). He was still very angry with me. I had my first son; he said ‘that girl, she is just ruing her life’. Co-incidentally, when the war ended, it was like everybody was proved right. Because when the war ended, my husband had nothing doing. They were on probation for three years, so everybody was saying ‘Uhuuu, we told you’. ‘Didn’t we tell you, see what you did to yourself, and see what you did to yourself’. You won’t believe this, men who approached me for marriage and I refused them said ‘See what you did to yourself. I told you, look at a nice girl like you?’.
Mrs. Momah, her husband and 5 lovely kids during the celebration of hubby's 70th in 2013
One man in particular said, ‘You refused to marry me, it is okay? But please, a good girl like you should not marry a soldier. Just wait, you won’t marry me abi? It is okay. Wait till the war ends, then you can marry the kind of man that deserves you, don’t marry a soldier’ (Laughter). So, the hot words continued, it was when I had my third son that my father came to visit me. I was at University of Nigeria, Nsukka then, and he said ‘look at me, I am busy quarreling and angry with this people but it is as if God is even blessing them the more.
Mrs. Momah with hubby, kids and their spouses during hubby's 70th birthday celebration in 2013
It is as if God is with them, I am busy angry with them’
. Because when I had my first child, he shunned me, second one, he equally shunned me. He said ‘foolish girl, she has messed up her life, she didn’t finish her university education, and she is marrying. What is she hurrying for?’ So, when I had my third son, he said, ‘See me o, busy angry with this people but it is as if God is not angry with them’. (Laughter) It was then he came to visit me for reconciliation. He brought a lot of gifts, it was at that point he started softening up—otherwise till then, he was very angry.
General Sam Momah with his siblings
What was your relationship like with your in-laws?
Gen. Sam Momah with second son, Dr. Nkem Momah (L) and younger siblings
You know we all grew up together as children, so we are family friends. His father and my father were friends. So, we all knew ourselves. Mama and Papa were like my parents right from day one, and they were very nice people. While I was at the university, I left my 3 children with them; my 3 sons were living with them. They looked after my 3 sons while I was in school.
Mrs. Momah joined eminent Nigerians to launch hubby's book 'Nigeria: Beyond Divorce' during hubby's 70th birthday celebration in 2013
I equally noticed that all your children are very educated yet very humble. How were you able to raise such rare children with such great and unique moral?
Mrs. C.I. Momah with her kids and their spouses celebrates her husband at 70
I just give God the glory; it is all by the grace of God. I won’t take the glory, it is God that did it, it is by His grace. We just did our bit as parent but God completed the assignment. We have 5 very wonderful children; you can’t ask for better children, they are very nice children.
Mrs. Momah's first child, Dr. Emeka Momah in a hearty discussion with Coscharis Motors Founder, Mr. Maduka during Dad's 70th birthday celebration in 2013
You have four medical doctors and one computer scientist, why is none of them taking after their dad?
General Sam Momah....dissuade children from joining The Army
My husband always say military life is a very dangerous life, that he survived it is a miracle to him. So, he never encouraged anybody around him to go into the military. He never encouraged anyone around him to join the Army. Because he said during the war, he saw somebody in front of him die, somebody at his back died, somebody by your right is dead, somebody by your left is dead and then you are wondering, how did I survive?
Mrs. Momah with hubby, grand son and Present Nigerian Minister of Science & Technology, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu
But I supposed in Igbo land, we give names that have meanings. And my people always say, your name leads you. His name is Ifeayinchukwu, I supposed that is the flagship of his life that keeps sustaining him and leading him. Ifeayinchukwu means ‘there is nothing impossible with God’. So, he said he is always surprised how he survived. Maybe at the end of a Military action, your bat man is dead, the person in front of you is dead, the person at the back is dead, the persons by your left and right are dead and somehow you survived, so everything is by His grace.
Mrs. Momah's grand kids celebrates their Grand Dad, General Sam Momah during his 70th birthday celebration in 2013
So, he said military is a very dangerous profession so he never encouraged anybody around him even his nephews, he never allowed any of them to even think about it. You can go into any other profession but military. Because people just see the ceremony they aren’t aware of the danger, they just see the ceremony and not the danger.
The General dances with his Grand Kids @ 70
My husband used to say that it is not easy to leave the army with your head on your shoulder. Either way you look at it, you either lose your head through a war situation or a coup-de-etat. So, he never encouraged his children to join the Army.  We only look at those who survived, majority did not survive.
Grand Kids celebrates General Sam Momah @ 70
Can you recall the most challenging season of your marriage, I mean a time when the line nearly snapped and you nearly did a re-think?
Mrs. C.I. Momah directs affairs during husband's 70th birthday in 2013
The most challenging period of our marriage were those initial years when he had nothing doing, they were on probation and we were in the village, we had nothing doing. And he was the sole breadwinner of his parent.
Eminent Nigerians like former First Lady, Dr. Maryam Abacha, Nigeria's Minister of Science & Technology, Chief Ogbonaiya Onu and Chief Emeka Ezeife celebrates with the Momahs on Sam's 70th birthday in 2013
There was no money, it was not easy. It was tough and as a matter of fact, my parent told me ‘What are you doing there. You this girl, come back home’, ‘what are you doing there, are you sure your head is correct? What are you doing there? Come back home, then you can go and meet your brothers in America, your age mates are not yet married’. The day they brought that message to me,
Christiana Momah....A woman who loves her Sam...
I told them ‘look, I made this decision and I am standing by it’. I learnt when the person they sent returned home and told them, they all started crying. They said ‘don’t you think this girl is mad? Her head is not correct o, somebody we are trying to save; she is not ready to save herself’. So, I told their messenger, tell them, ‘I made this choice and I am standing by it’. And I said, ‘tell them by the way, I am travelling to Lagos’ that was when my husband was in detention. That tomorrow, I am travelling to Lagos; somebody told us they have found where he is. So, we are to go Lagos to see if we can find him.
Mrs. C.I. Momah with former Nigerian First Lady, Hajiya (Dr.) Maryam Abacha
His life according to his autobiography has always been characterized with near death situations and miracle escapes. From the very terrible military encounters during the civil war; what was your own role during most of this deadly situations?
Mrs. Momah welcomes ex-Commodore Jubril Ayinla to hubby's 70th celebration in 2013
Maybe it was the quality of character of the youths of my era; somehow I am a woman of faith. I always believe God is sovereign. I have never told anyone this story before but I will tell you. I told you that at the end of the war, my people sent for me, trying to encourage me to return home.
Mrs. Momah welcomes ex NAFDAC DG & Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili to hubby's 70th bash in 2013
Come and go meet your brothers in America and I said ‘tell them, I made this choice myself and I am sticking to it’. And by the way, somebody has told me that they have found where he is in Lagos and I am going to look for him (The General who just finished fighting on the Biafran side was part of a newly re-absorbed military personnel for the Nigerian Army and who were under house arrest in Lagos for military trial)
The GDA in a rare pose with Mrs. C.I. Momah & Former First Lady, Hajiya (Dr.) Maryam Abacha
My first son was just three months old then. I heard (Parents/relatives) started crying, they said ‘look, are you sure this girl is normal, carrying a little baby of three months to a place she is not familiar with?’ But why I said God is sovereign is that at the end of the war, my father in-law called me. Papa had no money; he said ‘look, this is all the money we have in this house but since you are going with the baby, I am going to give you everything because what can we do? If you see him, please, find a way to send words to us so that we can have a rest of mind’.
Mrs. Momah & Mrs. Abacha in a tete-tete with ex-Police IG, Mike Mbama Okiro
My In-laws even thought my husband and others had all been killed. So, when I entered the bus, the Niger bridge was broken then as a result of the war. So, immediately you come down at the Niger Bridge, you now find other means of transport to cross you over to the Nigerian side. But immediately I came down from the bus that brought me from the village, I was just arranging my basket and trying to hold my little son properly, what did I have? I had just a little basket, then, my son with his milk and some fruits.
The GDA & the General's Men admires General Sam Momah's 70th Birthday banner donated by his private staff
But somebody just pulled by as I was arranging my things and said ‘Young lady, where are you going with this little baby?‘He is so young’. I told him I was going to Lagos and he said ‘you know what? I am going to Lagos too. Come, let’s go together’. If it was like now, you can be sure it is a kidnapper or ritualist. So, he said he is going to Lagos ‘but see, Lagos is far away o. I won’t be in Lagos until like 10pm’. So, I said ‘it is okay’. When we got to Agbor, he stopped. Went and bought four pillows, he told me to get up and he laid it on the seat.
Mrs. Momah celebrates hubby with a shared toast with friends, Dr. (Mrs.) Maryam Abacha & Dr. (Mrs.) Virgy Etiaba
I was at the back seat of his jeep. Then he told me that he wanted me to be comfortable, he bought me some fruits and said he won’t be in Lagos until 10pm.  So, he wants me to relax, if I want to sleep, I should sleep. If I am hungry, I should let him know. After that, we started the journey again and on the way, he asked me, ‘so where are you going with this little baby, he is so young’. I now told him that my husband is an ex-Biafran officer and they were under detention and that we just found out where he is and that I am going to find out if I can find him.
Mrs. C.I. Momah welcomes Former First Lady, Hajiya (Dr.) Maryam Abacha to hubby's 70th birthday celebration in 2013
He asked me where the venue of their detention is and I said “Hotel Majestic, Yaba”. And he said he knows the place that we would drive there straight; let’s see if we can see him. When we got to Lagos around 10pm, we drove straight to that place but when we made some inquiry, they said ‘yes, he was there, that they have closed for the day and I can’t see him but that they will tell him, I am around’. I should return the next day. So the man now said “what are we going to do now? What would you do now since he can’t see you today?”
Mrs. Momah & hubby shares toast with Mrs. Abacha & Mr. Cosmas Maduka of Choscaris Motors during Gen. Momah's 70th bash in 2013
Actually, I had an address of some of his relations who live in Obalende area of Lagos, and again this man said “Oh, I know the place. I will take you there”. That was in Okesuna. So, we drove straight there and we look for the number; that was number fifty-something, and as we would have it, the first door we knocked turned out to be that of my husband’s relations—Eddy and Ben. So they saw me and exclaimed ‘Heee, Ify, Ify, Ify’ they embraced me, they took the baby from me, took my basket from me and the man now said, “Now, I am sure you are safe, bye-bye”.
Mrs. C.I. Momah admiring hubby as he takes a snap with COSCHARIS Motors boss, Cosmas Maduka
Then he just walked away into the dark, started his car and drove away. When my mother heard this story, she said an angel visited you, that God still send his angels to direct his children’s part.  And that was an angel, he didn’t take a kobo from me and the irony is that if I see that man today, I don’t know whether he is tall or short or black or yellow. Even his name, I didn’t remember to ask him for his name. So, my mum said it was an angel that helped me out.
L-R: Chief Joop Berkhout, Ex-Power Minister, Berth Nnaji, ex-Sports Minister, Jim Nwobodo, ex-Aviation Minister, Kema Chickwe & ex-Health Minister, ABC Nwosu at General Sam Momah's 70th bash in 2013
That God still send his angels. And that was an angelic visitation. Just from nowhere, he directed you, he didn’t take a kobo from you and he made sure you were okay. Drove you round until he was sure you were safe before he left. So the next day, I was accosted by Eddy and Ben to Hotel Majestic, Yaba where I was allowed to see him. They had already told him I am around and he was eager to see me. So, we kept going everyday to stay with him until he was released in May, then we all now came back to the village. By then, nobody thought he will come back alive.
Mrs. C.I. Momah & Hubby, Gen. Sam Momah in a pose with Chief (Mrs.) Dupe Jemibewon (R) during General Momah's 70th bash in 2013
So, we first stayed in the village. It was rough but God has a way of sustaining his own. We survived it somehow. Even my late senior brother said to me ‘You this girl, you made this choice o’, he said ‘listen, are you listening?, I don’t want anybody coming to cry for me, you made the decision, so you are on your own completely’. So, that is life for us. We were always in God’s hand and God has sustained the marriage till date.
General Sam Momah's 70th birthday cake designed and presented by Mrs. C.I. Momah
So, when fortunes now smiled on him and he became Minister of Science and Technology, how did you handle fortune as his first lady?
Mrs. Momah welcomes Senator Jim Nwobodo to hubby's 70th birthday bash in 2013
Well, I did my own bit as a wife. You do your own and God completes everything. I was able to do my beat as the wife of the minister of Science and Technology. It was a very busy period of my life and the house was very busy round the clock. Visitors come and go. I was always cooking; my house was a market place. But that is how my mother trained us, that anybody that comes into your house must be given food.  She said, let them eat and be fed. So, that was my beat then.
The General & his men
At a particular time, he was almost made the Military Administrator of Anambra state, what happened to that dream and how did you handle it?
The General & The GDA
Yes, it didn’t come to pass because he had a major eye problem then. That was 85, 86, He had a very major eye problem that was quite traumatic but again, God was faithful. It was retinal detachment, something that can lead to immediate blindness. In his medical book, it is written in red ink to show it was an emergency. They said ‘see your Doctor immediately; this is like a medical emergency’. So, he had to travel to America. My brothers just left university then and one of them was a medical doctor. And they arranged this surgery and he survived the whole thing; eight hours on each eye.  Eight hours of micro surgery on each eye; my husband is an over comer.  He has seen it all.
So, what do you wish him at this age of your life?
Mrs. Momah's First Child, Dr. Emeka Momah giving vote of thanks at Dad's 70th birthday bash in 2013
Again, I just give God the glory for bringing us this far. All I wish him is the very best. I wish him every blessed thing that he wishes for himself and to tell him that we appreciate him, we love him and God will move him to a higher ground.
Former First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hajiya (Dr.) Mrs. Maryam Abacha, a friend of Mrs. C.I. Momah
As a veteran of marriage for 48 years, what would you tell young couple rushing in and out of marriage these days? What is the problem and what is the panacea?
First Nigerian Female Governor & Ex-Governor of Anambra State, Madam Virgy Etiaba, a friend of Mrs. C.I. Momah
It is very unfortunate. The advice I always give young couple is to make Christ the foundation of their marriage. If you make Christ the foundation of your marriage, it will never go wrong. If you are standing on that solid rock of Christ Jesus, nothing will shake your marriage. Come rain come sunshine, you will find you are an over comer. Marriage comes with its own challenges but if you have faith in God, you will see it through.
Dr. Tobe Momah MD, a Monroe-USA based Public Health expert and Author, 'A General & Gentle Man'. He is Mrs. C.I. Momah's third son
The GDA in the ambiance of the General
The GDA & The General on a web search

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