Thursday, 18 May 2017

How Household Enemies ruined my life—Billionaire, Godwin Anabor + How I met and interviewed Godwin Anabor

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Chief Godwin Anabor and the last woman who married him, Dawn Amber Ballenberger from Germany

On Tuesday, January 20th, 2009,  I had a privileged encounter with Chief Godwin Anabor inside his massive mansion at Moshood Abiola Cresent, Ikeja, Lagos—South West Nigeria. The Chief who just got married to a German lady, Dawn Amber Ballenberger , 39, that morning,  gave me his first interview out of the registry. However, my first encounter with Chief Godwin Olusegun Anabor was sometime in year 2005 after the flirt scandal of his wife, Anthonia broke out. At the time, some of us, young society writers, had done stories that seems to put the billionaire publisher in bad light than his embattled wife. So a senior colleague (Mr. Kayode Fayemi now late) facilitated my encounter with Chief Anabor that fateful evening inside his Ikeja--Lagos mansion. I was a bit nervous and perplexed. I saw a lot of hefty looking guys lurking around Chief Anabor. It was a funny evening. I didn’t want to enter his living room because of those weird faces but the late Kayode Fayemi encouraged me to be courageous and do my job “Se okunrin ko ni e ni? Wole joor” he charged at me in his characteristic Omo Onile style. Yes, I was nervous because my page “Celebrity Gist” inside Hallmark Newspaper had published series of gist considered as ‘Negative PR’ for the chief. One of such stories was that the Chief had relapsed into the usage of hard drugs since he sent his wife packing after allegedly catching her with a younger lover at Omole Phase II estate one morning. And that the drug was fast eating into his vast wealth.
So my august journey to Chief Anabor’s house was to, as they say, in journalism parlance, ‘seek his own side of the story’. And the late Kayode Fayemi who was more of Chief Anabor’s PR man said Chief asked for me to clear the drug issue around his image.
The GDA with Chief Godwin Anabor

 On getting to his living room, Chief stretched his right hand to me for a handshake and called my first name, ‘Gbenga’ as if he already knew me for ages. We finished the pleasantries and I ran over him with series of questions which he answered without hiding any fact or dodging a response. He was bitter that I wrote that he was on drug (Cocaine) He cursed and blamed his estranged wife, Anthonia and a young editor who edited Heart Magazine (his publication) before the publication died. As he spoke to me, two things were clear. Chief Anabor is a stammerer. He stammered as he poured out his anger to me. Secondly, he was equally using his fingers to itch his body as the encounter lasted. It was a hot 30 minutes interview and I really enjoyed the show because he was on the defensive while I launched the arsenal.
Asaro meal by Chief Godwin Anabor
Chief Godwin Anabor...Now wise as a poor man

However, the big problem came when Chief Anabor invited me to the dinning side of his mansion (After the interview)  and served me porridge (Asaro) cooked by him. He boasted to me “Gbenga, e mi ni mo se, wa gbadun e” (Gbenga, I personally cooked this. You will enjoy the meal). Of course, the Chief, I suspect was only trying to impress me with his cooking skills and equally letting me know that ‘even though my wife abandoned me, I can always handle my meals’. But that got my mind busy in some other directions. I quickly told him that I was fasting and couldn’t eat his Asaro elepo rede-rede. Sensing the danger of my rejection and the perceptional implication, Kayode Fayemi jumped at the meal and started eating it as if to show me that ‘nothing dey inside am o’. He echoed as he mouthed a spoonful “Ha, Gbenga, Chief funrara won lon se. Ounje na dun” (Gbenga, it is Chief who cooked the meal and you will find it tasteful). He began to eat as if to convince me to join him. But I was adamant as I was more interested in leaving the apartment after the interview than having a ‘toast time’ with the landlord.
The GDA with Godwin Anabor and wife on January 20th, 2009 inside Anabor's Lagos mansion now sold off

 However, not known to be frugal with hospitality, Anabor dashed into the kitchen and brought out a chilled blue colored fruit wine unopened, and handed it over to me with a cup. Since he wanted me to ‘take something in his house even if I am fasting’, and seeing that I will be the one to pop the drink, I obliged to pop and drink. That I did and throughout the 30 minutes or thereabout on his dining table, I found a man who though, could be irritated with bad news on his person, but equally jovial and charismatic to his guests. I ran his interview the following week and Kayode Fayemi became more livid with me for the headline I used which has something like “I am not addicted to Cocaine”. I wouldn’t know if late Mr. Fayemi was angry on behalf of his client or it was his own genuine anger. However, that was the last time I saw Chief Godwin Anabor in 2005.
The GDA spoke with Godwin Anabor's new wife, Amber

The next time I set my eyes on him was after he left a rehabilitation center under Bishop Kayode Peller in January 2009. He was 47 then and just got married to an Oyinbo woman. He invited me to the wedding at Ikeja registry and equally invited me over home to meet his new woman. I interviewed him and the woman (I think Laura or something is her name) and the title of that interview was “I am still a Billionaire” even though things were already turning down for the chief at the time as he was just emerging from a rehabilitation center. However, I gave him all the needed attention.
In the name of Godwin Anabor
The newly wedded Mr. & Mrs. Anabor hours after their Tuesday, January 20th, 2009  Court Wedding

The third and last time I ran into him was somewhere around Ajao Road off Awolowo Way, Ikeja, just a distance to the famous Jolly Friend Hotel. By that time, he had emaciated and he will always drive in a yellow colored Toyota pick-up car with a police spy number. That day, a funny drama was on. Chief, who was still at the steering of the car with the engine on, was trying to convince a light complexioned, fatty lady about his personality. I think his German wife had left him by them. He was trying to woo this fatty lady (maybe I should say ‘toast’) but the lady was proving stubborn. I never knew my presence would become very handy for him.
Mrs. Amber Anabor
Immediately I greeted him, he quickly beckoned me to come nearer, stammering in his characteristic way of talking, he said “Joor, ki-ki-ki l’oruko mi?” (Please, what is my name) to which I quickly retorted “Chief Godwin Anabor” and he quickly turned to the lady and said “Shoo-sho-sho gbo bayi?” (Can you believe me now?) Instantly, the lady wore a look of guilt by showing a renewed interest and quickly took chief’s phone contacts, promising to show up at his place later in the day. For being so ‘smart’, he offered to give me a free drive to the nearest bus stop and I obliged. He was having a terrible running nose around that time. That was the last time I saw billionaire Chief Godwin Anabor.

The New Godwin Anabor…
Chief Godwin Anabor

However, I will like to share this latest interview I grabbed from the facebook page of Ashipa Ayodeji Adarabierin. It is something that will move you and let you see the vanity of life, family and household enemies including brothers, sisters and even your mother and father (Mathew 10:36). This interview granted by Chief Anabor on his grace-to-grass misfortune is highly philosophical. Don’t just enjoy the read. Please, learn a lesson for living.
How would you explain your fall from grace to grass?
Chief Godwin Anabor....Once a Billionaire Publisher

In fact, in Lagos Sheraton Hotel, I spent 86million Naira in hosting people from London for one year and three months. I have the receipts, and you can go and ask them there. Today, things are very rough for me and my family; in fact, I don’t even know what to say anymore. I see my name in all the newspapers, and I don’t know why. I trained people like Chris Sogunro, Tokunbo Sodunke, Dare Babayemi, Wale Awesu, and many of them like that. I made them what they are, and today, they are Billionaires. I’m surprised that they see me in this condition; some of them say I’m pushing drugs, but they can’t help me out. I don’t know why they are such ingrates. It is only one man called Mike Biggy who lives somewhere in Akowonjo that has helped me. He rented a house for me and really takes care of me. I wonder why this people decided to treat me this way considering the amount of money I spent on them. There was a time I had N3bn in Equity Bank at Allen Avenue, Ikeja, which I spent on people. Anyway, I thank God for my life. I started color printing in Nigeria, and I was printing for Thisday Newspaper, Punch, and many others. I also registered a security company which was approved and I had a license. They gave three of us the license. We had Vanni, Gordon and another one. I was even guarding the airport.

You were quite big then; didn’t you invest your money wisely?
Anabor and the last woman who graced his life, Dawn Amber Ballenberger

I invested a lot of my money, but because of corruption, mismanagement of the people handling the businesses, they ran them down. When you have a business, it’s very good to employ people who are reliable and give them some percentage of the investment or profits to get their commitments. That lesson I learnt greatly. I was putting my wife and my family, they ran the business down. My wife, Anthonia was even sharing money with people on purchases and supplies. My workers were building houses from the money they were making from the companies without letting me know.
How did you meet Anthonia?
Anabor & his love, Ballenberger in 2009

I met her at a Police Station when I was having a problem then. She was a Sergeant then, very beautiful woman. She was working with Dan Baba then and she was trying to assist me.
Was she your first wife?
No, my first wife is an Ijebu woman called Toyin, and she is still alive. I used to call her Toyin Tomato; she was always with Kolington, Tayelolu and the likes.
Why did you part with her?
Mrs. Dawn Amber Anabor (Nee Ballenberger)

I parted with her because she likes parties a lot.
But you were also going to parties then?
I went to parties, but I could not leave my family and go to parties. She used to leave our little son and go to parties. She had three children for me. My first daughter, Bose, is a Phd holder in London. I have another one who is a doctor, and Tunde who is in America.
Are they aware of your situation?
Chief Godwin Olusegun Anabor

Yes. They’ve tried.
I knew you had properties on Isaac John and Alabi Crescent in Ikeja, what happened to them?
They took advantage of me because they knew I needed money. I was offered N80m by a man called Basorun A.K for a house of about N300m. He has been in jail for about 10 years now because he was a drug dealer.
What about your Guest House on Joel Ogunnaike, GRA, Ikeja?
Anabor receiving a call on his wedding day to Ballenberger

I rented it, and I gave it to Shina Eddo, who also rented it from the family that owns it. Shina is a very good person to me.
What happened to your fleet of cars because you had a penchant for them?
I had more than 50 cars like Bentley, Rolls Royce and others. I usually bought cars that were newly manufactured. Household enemies are the problems of my life. God has made me to see that the people I trusted don’t even care about me.
Why do you think everyone neglected you?
It’s corruption, distrust. I gave at least 60 percent of all I had to people. I’m so happy on the street because people like Ade Balogun take care of me.
What about Dare Babs; who was he to you?
The Newly wed, Godwin and Amber Anabor holding their wedding certificate (The wedding has since crashed)

He was my driver. I brought him from Abeokuta to Lagos when I was working at the Breweries. We had a problem because of some little money of $5m, which was stolen by one Kenny, though we’ve settled it. He’s a very good person, but I haven’t heard from him for some years now.
What’s your relationship with Chief Oghadiome?
Pretty Dawn Amber Ballenbeger, Godwin Anabor's Wife

He is my village brother; in fact, my compound brother from Fuga in Edo State. The late Admiral (Mike Okhai) Akhigbe was the governor of Lagos State then; I think he was the one that made Oghadiome to become a deputy to Lucky Igbinedion of Edo State then. When he became the Chief of Staff to (President Goodluck) Jonathan, I went to Abuja to look for him. I was thinking he would call me for something important because when his mother died, I was there. Even when they were building the secretariat in Fugar, I was the one that contributed the most and they named a hall there after me: Godwin Anabor Hall. Today, none of them recognizes me, and it’s very funny.
Do you think what is happening to you is Karma because you used to ‘obtain’ people then?
The GDA in a one-to-one with Chief Godwin Anabor

In the Bible, God says”if you believe Him, he will give you joy. And for those that don’t believe him, he will give them power to acquire, but those who believe in Him will take it from you.” God gave me money; I did not obtain, it just came. If I obtained, they would have arrested me. I’ve never been on trial; or jailed for any offence. I don’t have such a record. For your information, I know I will come back again; that’s why I’m speaking like this. I will come back again because you’re bound to go up and down seven times and still have the grace. I believe in God.
What is your greatest joy in life?
'I am still a Billionaire' Chief Anabor boasts to GDA in 2009

My joy is that I did not die and give people opportunity to say good things about me when I’m gone. I’m alive to see how people are treating me when I don’t have. In fact, people that I taught how to make money then and who are now rich don’t want to touch me.
Ambassadors of foreign countries used to attend your parties, what was your connection with them?
It’s because I’m honest. If you’re honest, people will come to you.
Tell me about your background, where are you from?
I’m from Fugar, Auchi in Edo state, but I was born in Kano, and grew up in Osogbo.
What about Ade Bendel, I learnt he is your friend?
Chief Godwin Anabor's friend, Chief Adedeji Alumile aka Ade Bendel (R)

He is like my brother because he is from Owan in Edo State; I met him in Lagos. I heard that he had some problems and he’s in prison; that’s all I know about him so far.
If you bounce back again, what lessons have you learnt in life?

I want people to know that the friend you have now is not your best friend; in fact, your household enemy is your family. It’s just you and God, believe me. Always watch your back.
Who is left with you now?
The Chief with his last wife, Amber the German Lady

It’s God, and He is working because I’m living and enjoying. I still believe in Philippians 4:13. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”.
There was a report that you are now driving cab, is that true?
People are just writing whatever they like. A lot of people want to give me cars and other things. When God has blessed you, he has blessed you. Did you not see my driver, yes, he drives me in a Toyota called Pencil Light, but I’m not the one driving or doing kabukabu with it. I’ve learnt to live with my condition after all; I’m alive to see it all.
What is your greatest prayer to God now?
Amber Anabor gives a cheering smile to the GDA during our encounter with her

My prayer can be found in Psalm 1 which says, ‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the midst of the wicked’. He says he will bless them and make them like trees planted by the riverside. That’s what I prayed that I became a rich man. Forget about gossips.
How old are you chief?
'Life has taught me new lessons as a poor man'--Godwin Anabor

I’m 55, and I was born on February 19.
Where are Anthonia and your children now?
They’re in London.
Tell me your last word?
My last word is that everybody should watch their back, because there are household enemies.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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