By Chioma Gabriel, Editor Special Features

And drawing the picture back home,  Emmanuel Macron, France’ new president was five years in 1982 when Paul Biya of Cameroun became president the first time. Paul Biya is still president today. Macron was six years old when Buhari led the military to overthrow Shagari’s government in 1983. Buhari is Nigeria’s president at present.

In 2019, a brand new president will emerge in Nigeria and he will have peculiar features. He’ll be young, carefree, happy-go-lucky and 39 years old. Moreover, he’ll be married to a 64-year-old woman who had been his class teacher and mother of one of his classmates.

Did I hear you say only in my dreams?

Well, but not in France.

Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte

A revolution comparable to the one headed by Napoleon Bonaparte recently happened in France. Only, this revolution is devoid of violence or rancour and it happened this year at the 2017 French presidential election which culminated in the emergence of the 39-year old Emmanuel Macron as the winner.

To many Nigerians, what happened in France can only be akin to political lightning and thunder because of issues related to his age. He is 39 and by the calculations of a Nigerian, too young to be a president, especially in a country like Nigeria where expiring men are known to have often emerged presidents.

But what Macron lacked in age, his wife gained in years.

She was a married 40-year-old drama teacher when she met the then 15-year-old Emmanuel Macron while directing a school play.

For life, Brigitte Trogneux will continue to be a teacher to her husband and will continue to coach him, but now, as France’s First Lady.

The wife of the newly-elected president of France, according to media reports was constantly by his side during his campaign, managing his agenda, editing his speeches and advising him on his stage presence.

From the records, Macron was just 16 when he vowed to marry Trogneux and his parents even tried to put a stop to the schoolboy love affair, according to a new book.

But he was true to his word and they tied the knot in 2007. That was ten years ago and they have lived happily ever after.

When Macron was appointed economy minister in Socialist President Francois Hollande’s government in August 2014, Brigitte resigned from her teaching job to help her ambitious young husband. She remained a discreet presence during meetings with officials in the modernist Bercy building by the Seine in eastern Paris.

A French tabloid quoted Macron to have said : “She spends a lot of time here because her view matters to me, because she brings a different atmosphere, that is important. My life is here, you cannot work well if you are not happy.”

After Macron declared his bid in a November 2016 TV documentary on France 3, the couple shared video footage of the youthful Macron in the school play at which they met, and the footage of their 2007 wedding ceremony. “Thanks for accepting us, a not quite normal couple,” Macron was reported saying in a video of the ceremony, attended by Trogneux’ adult children.

When French cartoonists and satirical radio and TV programmes continued to mock the couple’s age difference, portraying Macron as a schoolboy taking instructions from his teacher, Trogneux, took the mockery in her stride and joked that if he wanted to run for president, he better do it soon, while she still looked presentable.

What’s the big deal about the two? Well, since you asked, Brigitte Trogneux, wife of French-President-elect    is 24 years her husband’s senior, which also just happens to be the same age gap that separates Donald and Melania Trump.  Donald Trump is 70, which is 24 years older than his 46-year-old wife. They have been married for eleven years.

But the circumstance of the French power couple’s meeting is arguably far more interesting than that of the Trumps .

And drawing the picture back home,  Emmanuel Macron, France’ new president was five years in 1982 when Paul Biya of Cameroun became president the first time. Paul Biya is still president today. Macron was six years old when Buhari led the military to overthrow Shagari’s government in 1983. Buhari is Nigeria’s president at present. That’s why age became an issue here and why it matters most to Nigeria. But forget it, the Nigerian youth would hardly get such an opportunity of becoming president, definitely, not in this era of electing expiring presidents. So, lets focus on the plausible, marrying a woman 24-years your senior. By December it even be 25 years. What would make a Nigerian guy do that?

“Nothing, except witchcraft,” replied Azu, a newspaper Editor without blinking.” I dey craze? Woman don finish for market? It cannot happen. Macron’s a strange man. He has no explanation. He shouldn’t have married her. She should have been anything to him but a wife. Unless I’m not in my senses and a witch hypnotizes me to do that. She has lived all her life, had her children, even grandchildren but he has none. He’s even richer, so it wouldn’t have been her assets. I don’t understand it. He has nothing from her. No child. Not her money. So, what was that? Witchcraft? I don’t know.”

But Emeka, an economist said he would have married a woman 24-years older given the current circumstances and given another opportunity.

“Life is about assets and liabilities. If I had married in the last ten years, I would have weighed the assets and liabilities of the woman and the assets have to be heavier. That’s what women consider anyway. It’s only the men that don’t think along that line but in the last ten years, men have changed to marrying assets other than liabilities. Those that married about 20 years ago would not consider assets but things have changed. What’s the big deal about ‘fine face’ or fine girl? That was in the past. Now, men marry assets in a changing world.”

For Kingsley, a Realtor, if he were getting married now, he would have married an asset. “ The way I see it, the only reason Macron could have married Brigitte was because she was an asset to him. I married a younger woman then but if it were now, I would have considered her assets and not her age before popping the question. But I don’t understand Macron. If he was an investment banker and she was a teacher, that means he was richer than Brigitte. It’s a bit weird because I don’t know what was the attraction. She has kids and he doesn’t. He’s richer, so I don’t understand him. If I would marry an older woman, there must be something in that relationship for me but I don’t see anything for the French president-elect. Someone else would have said only a strange man would do that.”

Gbenga, a political journalist would not have that kind a relationship with any woman. “ I can’t, even if she is the richest woman in the world. I don’t have eyes for old women. I have seen Nigerian guys living Overseas who marry old women to get their papers but once that is done, the relationship ends although some still remain married. But they are few. Infact, I have a friend living in the United States. He’s young like me and his wife is over sixty. He married her for his papers but he’s planning to come home and marry a real wife because he wants to have children. That kind of thing can never work for me.”

Reminded that United States President, Donald Trump is also 24 years older than his wife, he shook his head and said that was understandable. “But that is for them and not for me”

For Charles who’s in his 30s ,”at my current age, if I add 24 years to it and bearing other considerations, I would marry her if she’s rich, God-fearing and we share the same values. Reason being that I can operate on the same page with her to a bearable extent. With that, the two of us can fly”.

But Cliff, in his 40s said such a woman is too old for him.”Part of the reason for getting married is to have children. If she cannot have children for me, I cannot marry her. But we can be friends. Look, I can marry a woman five years older or thereabout but certainly not 24 years older.”

Adeseri looked at it from a spiritual angle. Looking at the cradle of creation of woman and how Eve was made from Adam, he reasoned that the wife ought to be younger.

“I believe a man’s wife is created from his ribs. So, she cannot be older. I don’t think Brigitte Trogneux is Macron’s real wife. His real wife cannot be older because she ought to have been made from his ribs. That’s the Biblical position. But if they are in my church, I will counsel them and if they insist, I will wed them. But that would be after telling them the truth: from the ribs.”

Looking at the scenario, Chioma, 34,   happily married with four children said she cannot marry a man 24 years older.

“ I won’t be happy with such a man. He’s too old and marriage is about being happy. That he is a president won’t change my mind. I would rather marry a much younger man.”


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