Leemon Ikpea: How a Husband Made Peace with an Acrimonious Wife
In the longing of Mrs Agnes Ikpea, wife of the billionaire oil magnate, Chief Leemon Ikpea, she made no difference between the pleasures of luxury and the joys of the heart, between elegant living and sensitive feeling, a lack of awareness that has consequently jeopardised her decades-old marriage. For his sanity and peace of mind, Chief Ikpea has sued for divorce from his estranged wife who has been variously described as a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. But she is not leaving without a fight, writes Lanre Alfred
IN THE BEGINNING
Forget the wealth and status, the gilded and glamorous lives; they don’t necessarily guarantee longevity or contentment in marriage. Grace, patience and tolerance for each other do. Alas, it seems many Nigerian women are running thin on these three virtues. No less, Mrs Agnes Ikpea, wife of Chief Leemon Ikpea, Chairman of Lee Engineering and Construction Company, a player in the oil and gas and construction sectors.
Circa 1982, Chief Ikpea was a young man working his way through life but felt he needed a companion. He was 24 years old and decided to give marriage a shot. Agnes, unlettered and rustic, who, at the time, had not gone beyond her village in Edo State, was introduced to him by his uncle. He went ahead to marry her. The young Ikpea gave her everything she wanted in life. He had beautiful plans. The plans were lofty and lovely and they revolved mostly around his wife. The kids rolled in. They have six together now, all adults. But things did not quite go as planned as the character traits of the two partners conflicted with their romantic dreams and aspirations. Every attempt he made to brush his wife up educationally and socially failed. She, literally, remained stuck in her old, yokel ways, uninterested in developing herself.
Chief Ikpea, who had risen high on the rungs of wealth, also reportedly got her a home tutor but she failed to grasp whatever she was taught. He set up businesses for her, notably, a fashion house and a salon, and she failed at them. All of these did not make the man happy. A source close to the family said that despite the number of years they were together, “Chief Ikpea hardly had a breathing space because Agnes was never satisfied with anything the husband did for her and she was abusive, abrasive, threatening and antagonistic. She courted trouble with ease and was fond of physically seizing him. demanding more money.”