In honour of Fathers Day celebration on Sunday, June 19, award winning musician, husband and proud papa, Peter Okoye, opens up to Punch on fatherhood and how he bonds with his two kids. His son Cameron, also gave his first interview ever. And it's a must read!
How has fatherhood impacted you?
Fatherhood has taught me to be selfless and always consider my children first in whatever I do. In the past, I spent a fortune on pricey wristwatches and exotic cars. Today, my children come first. I spend wisely and preserve myself for them because they are my future.
How are you raising your kids?
As much as I always provide their needs, I always make it clear to them that there are millions of kids who do not have the same opportunities they have. I always let them know that street kids have no access to luxury neither are they fortunate to have a dad like myself. I also teach them about the benefits of working hard and working smart.
In what ways do you put these teachings into practise?
Sometimes I visit several rural communities with my son, so he can have a first-hand experience and feel of what it means to be poor. We also donate their old clothes and toys to the less privileged. It puts them in check . In addition, I ensure they value the little they have and are content.
What personal values shape your life?
My brother and I spent more time with our late mum as our dad was never in support of our music career at first. These days, parents encourage their kids to play soccer and do music because they have seen musicians succeed.I don’t stop my kids from pursuing their goals in life. I am simply of the opinion that you must strive to be the best in whatever you do. If you are a carpenter, motor mechanic or driver, strive to be the best in your field. I try as much as possible not to react the same way my father reacted when we began doing music. I have seen a lot of rich kids end up the wrong way and I don’t want that for my children.
How do you spend quality time with your kids?
Whenever I am in town, I take them out to play and buy ice-cream. Sometimes, we eat out at their favourite eatery.We also go swimming on Sundays; we have a pool in our home but we prefer to go swimming elsewhere. It’s sad that sometimes when they travel for summer holidays, I am not usually around because summer is a busy period for us. So, if they will be away for two weeks and I’m free for two days in between, I join them and then I go back to work.
Has being a father restricted you in any way?
Everyone knows that I’m a crazy person on stage. I take off my shirt on stage and the fact that I am married with kids doesn’t change that. It’s called showbizness and that is what I do for a living. When I get on stage, I put aside every other thing and simply enjoy the show.
Will you tone it down when your kids become older?
Well, it depends on me and don’t forget that my fans would also have grown older. In 20 years time, the same fans that are listening to Do Me, No One Like You, will want me to relieve the good old days. I will still take off my shirt as long as I still look good. It’s showbizness so I don’t want to change that.
How do you separate being a superstar and a dad?
I wish it were possible because sometimes when I’m out with my kids, I want to spend quality time alone with them. I hate having security around me and not being able to enjoy the moment with them. I don’t want them to get used to that life because in future, they would find it difficult adjusting to not having security follow them around. I want them to live their own lives away from mine. My son is aware that I am a celebrity but my daughter doesn’t know yet. Last year, I went somewhere with my son and he turned around and asked, ‘Dad, where is your bodyguard?’
Is there anything you wish to do better as a father?
I wish that I had my children earlier; I was with their mum for years before we got married. I even had them before we got married. If I had them a long time ago, we would relate more like siblings. If they were teenagers for instance, they would know that their dad is a celebrity and can learn certain things on their own.
What do you miss about your dad?
My kids didn’t really get to know my dad before he died. If my dad was alive, I am very certain that he would visit us every week from Jos, to spend time with the kids.
How would you describe your style of parenting?
I keep it young and fresh. People have turned parenting into something else just like marriage. I still live like a young boy; I don’t want to feel and act old. I want my kids to look up to me as role model. I am inspired by the footballer, David Beckham. I want my son to grow up to become my friend. That is why I said I wish I had my children earlier.
Who is the stricter parent between you and your wife?
My wife is stricter; she has a naughty corner where she disciplines any erring child. My wife puts them in check. Whenever Cameron does something wrong in school, he confides in me first. He does this because he knows I will find a way to calm his mum’s nerves.
How do you intend to spend Father’s Day?
Thankfully, I will be around but I feel every day is Father’s Day. Trying to set out a special day to celebrate it doesn’t make sense to me. We may just buy popcorn and watch a movie together in the comfort of our home. If we decide to spend the day outdoors, we will attract stares and fans would not let me be. I won’t be able to enjoy that intimate time with my children.
How do your kids react whenever this happens?
My son especially becomes very jealous. Thankfully, he has gotten over it because his friends now ask to take pictures with him.
DAD IS MY BEST FRIEND — CAMERON OKOYE
How old are you?
I am seven years old and I am in primary 3.
What do you love most about your dad?
I love his music, the way he teaches and corrects me when I do anything wrong. My dad teaches me everything I need to know and he is also my best friend.
Which of his songs is your favourite?
It’s titled Forget Your Love and my dad featured an artiste on the song. I love it because it’s my type of song; I love the beats and way he played the guitar in the track.
Would you also like to be a musician?
No. I would rather be a footballer because I feel I was born to play football. I’m a bit confused sometimes about my favourite football club. But, my favourite football players are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo,because they are the best players in the world;they have a lot of skills.
How often does your dad teach you how to dance?
Yes, he teaches me how to dance. I can dance but nothing comes close to my love for football. I only dance when I want to.
Do your friends give you a preferential treatment at school?
Yes, they do. Whenever they get into trouble, they plead with me to take the blame, so they don’t get punished.
Does this work?
Yes, it does and even if I’m not at fault I take the blame. I do that because I can help them out and I don’t want my friends to get punished.
Who is your favourite-mummy or daddy?
Don’t tell my mum because the answer is my dad.
Why is he your favourite?
He is my favourite because the gift he gave me is perfect.
And what could that gift be?
He gave me ‘me’ and life because he is my father. He also got me an iPhone.
How does he correct you?
He spanks me sometimes and at other times, he just screams.
How does your mum correct you?
She sends me to the naughty corner.
What is your greatest wish for your dad on Father’s Day?
I pray that God helps him and keeps him growing in life and his career.
If you could buy something for your dad, what would it be?
I wouldn’t buy him anything. I will give him money; I’ll give him N19, 000 because that is all the money I have. I don’t mind giving him all of it because he deserves it.