Undoubtedly, the emergence of first Sport Radio, 88.9 Brila FM has since 15years ago changed the face of Sport Broadcasting in Nigeria. Coupled with Entertainment, Educative, News and Current Affairs programmes in addition has also makes it a complete brand that is envy locally and internationally. In the past years, Brila FM has evolved, moving with the fast pace of technology across the world in a bid to deliver world standard broadcasting, especially as it concerns football and every other sports. In a chat with TimelineNG as the company reaches another milestone of uninterrupted broadcasting on October 1st 2017, Chairman/ CEO Brila FM, Dr Larry Izamoje is upbeat and optimistic of greater years ahead. The ace sport broadcaster expresses appreciation, satisfaction with the level of acceptance and gives God the glory for the feat achieved so far. . Q. Sir, 15 years of Sport Radio broadcasting , the first in this part of the world, what are the significance?
Ans; Meeting the sports information,education and entertainment needs of listeners and providing a platform for them to also be heard
Q. What are some of the age-long targets of the Station that you will confidently said the company has met, to the glory of God?
Ans: Making more people love sports and see us as the reference point for what we do
Q Similarly, what are some of the achievement you never envisage in your wildest dream, which the Station has recorded now?
Ans: The level of acceptance home and abroad.
Q Much after the opening of Sport Radio, we seems to be experiencing lots of sport programmes on other regular Radio Stations, especially football program and analysis. Do you think emergence of Brila FM prompted them in going that way?
Ans: Stations look for what appeals to their audience. I think they are doing what the audience years for.
Q. In another first, you have secured the services of former Super Eagles player, Ifeanyi Udeze to be part of your team, how were you able to do that?
Ans: He is onboard as an analyst, an expert.We re-strategized in-house and decided that to co-incide with our 15th anniversary we have to raise the bar by getting people with first hand soccer experience onboard. You can't know more about the English league ,for example, than someone who has travelled all the venues,played there,followed the EPL rules,faced top flight coaches and met face-to-face with the biggest stars.
Q. What kind of relationship exists between you and your staff and do you still have some that has being with you since inception 15years ago?
Ans: Cordial ,very cordial and we still have some that started with us even before Brila became a radio station.Those who go against the company's rules by duplicating our kind of service for self or others on different platforms or who start their businesses and start challenging the policies that made them see the Brila they applied to in the first place are encouraged to go or asked to go.
Q. So, how are you keeping up the pace to continue in setting the standard?
Ans: By keeping faith in God and ensuring the policies that have helped the company grow are abided with always. Even in the Garden of Eden, there were rules.
Q. You came out with a distinctive style of presentation which really captivated many of your listeners even many of your staff took to that. Do you have a training school for that?
Ans; We are constantly evolving and re-strategizing. We do a lot of coaching but not in the classroom format,if that is what you mean.We also look at how society is changing and adapt styles and programmes to them.Generally,presenters are told our cardinal rule,be racy and pacy and excited.It is not my style but the Brila style .With that as foundation, they are allowed to infuse their creative elements and so you find they all are excited,racy and pacy and yet different in their individual ways because of the add-on they put.
Q What is the current rate of listenership of the Station lately?
Ans: Superb because of our pan-Nigeria presence ,streaming on www.brila.net, our social media handles and the constant engagement online that take them back to radio.
Q. In the last 15years, the Brila FM has grown to open other stations in Onitsha, Kaduna and Abuja. How are they fairing and apart from Lagos which one can we rate as second in order of listenership?
Ans: Tough to tell because everytime the lines are open, calls are ceaseless on each station but if we go by the population per city and love of sports ,may be Onitsha, just maybe and also because Asaba is a boundary town so two big cities together.
Q. The Station has also cued in to reporting vie Social Media and getting feedbacks, how would you rate this so far?
Ans; We saw it is the future.We mainly engage our listeners with it and it has been wonderful
Q. Many of the young new listeners of the Station still don't know how the name 'Brila' came up and what informed it. Can you please tell us?
Ans; My very dear wife is Bridget and I am Larry. We took the first three letters of her name (Bri) and the first two of mine (La) and got Brila.
Q. How supportive has been your wife working at the background to the success of Brila Group today?
Ans: Very very supportive. She is not only my wife and mother of our three children,now ladies but also my business partner.She directly runs our Printing Press and does advisory services on monitored content as well as provides corporate governance ideas for the group as that is the area she specialized at masters degree level.
Q Are we going to see any of your daughter working administratively in Sport Radio soon?
Ans: May not be in the broad sense of administration soon but now, one of them ,Debbie, does Image and Social Media Management for us being an expert in that area having relocated back home after studies abroad. She also writes columns for Thisday and BellaNaija amongst others.
Q. Recently two of your staff ( now left) were in the news, with one of them Murphy Ijemba trying to drag the company's name into mud, though he has now apologized retracting all he said. Could you please let your numerous fans hear it from horses mouth what really happened?
Ans: I don't know of the apology,may be pre-medidated ,but I wondered why he went that far in the first place.I was shocked they rejected changes in shifts that took only one to a belt where we needed a backup because someone there breached his contract and had to go and Murphy who was not moved from the evening belt took that path. We did not sack them as he made people believe before we issued an official statement.
Q. The Sport Radio has kept expanding, what are the newest addition into the content as well as expansion in terms of capacity?
Ans: Our @889brilafm social media handles are now the same across all platforms, we have a more robust www.brila.net website that covers lifestyle and betting services amongst others,we now provide virtual media experiences via the website as presenters can be watched live and we have launched a Youtube TV channel called Brilasports.tv, a prelude a bigger roll-out.
Q. Many sees you as a role model and multimillionaire at the moment or do I say the company, how are you giving back to the society in terms of training younger generation in sport broadcasting? Ans I regularly do speaking events motivating them and almost always use my life to tell that hardwork does not kill. Recently, and I thank the National Broadcasting Commission,I was at Unilag giving younger sportscasters a talk at the NBC event. I do a lot of speaking engagements and have a motivational book titled Scoring Life's Goals that teaches perseverance,persistence ,keeping a positive attitude and pushing your way through to the next height making passion give rise to action.
Auwal Tahir Maude (Adeniyi) is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Saturday’s local government election. He has made headlines lately as one of the candidates to watch out for at the poll. He is from Northern extraction, but ATM as he is fondly called was born an bread in Lagos. He is a successful businessman.
The Engineer, a University of Port Harcourt graduate has also sold his 4-point agenda to people across the council area. His 4 cardinal point include; Security, Basic Education, Employment and Health/Infrastructure.
What makes ATM’s ambition interesting is that he is running against some big establishments in the ruling party, APC in the state. He is contesting in the local government where the Speaker of the State assembly come from. He is also not a Yoruba man. However, Maude doesn’t see all these as challenges that can stop him, and facts are seemingly proving him right. He has had a fantastic campaign backed by a good followership, especially among the youths. In this interview with CityScoop, ATM spoke confidently about his hope to secure victory in the election among other key issues, enjoy it.
What has the feedback been like after your months and weeks of campaign?
It has been an awesome experience so far. There is no particular rule that guides electioneering aside the electoral law and the constitutional laws that guide us as a people in a country. There is no certain rule that guides how you work your way to victory aside these laws I have mentioned. You have to work hard to reach out to the people and sell what you have to them. But after all these months and weeks, the feedback we got has been very encouraging and we have so much trust in the people.
So, how sure are you about victory at the polls on Saturday?
Well, I am a Muslim and a man of faith. I know victory comes from God and we are sure that through hard work and prayers, we can achieve whatever we want in life. We are so certain that come Saturday, we are going to emerge victorious. I am certain that by Sunday, July 23, I would have been declared the elected chairman of Agege Local Government.
You are contesting in one of the councils that have been drawing a lot of attention. The Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly is from Agege, how sure are you that you have garnered enough muscles and support to defeat the Speaker, his party and their candidate?
God gave David victory over Goliath and I know that there is not power or might that is bigger than that of God and the will of people when it comes to matters of election. The Speaker and his people only have one vote each. And we have gone around every nooks and crannies of Agege and we know what the people want. The people said they are tired of failed promises from the same people who have been coming to them every election year. Majority of our people have also said that they are tired of the meaningless handouts these people always give them around electioneering periods. It is time to take the bull by the horn and I think we are getting to the time whereby people are no longer deceived by those things. How will a politician expect people to continue to sell their votes for things like noodles, sachet of milk, N500, etc? We want to take power from these people and give it to the people. This is not just about me or my party; it is about the common people of Agege. This is the message we have sold to our people, it is time for them to get leadership that is going to be there, just for them. Some people are trying to force themselves on the people just to get to office and be serving the interests of their godfathers. To them, politics is a business whereby you have to give returns to some people. The people of Agege, Yorubas, Hausas and Igbos are agitated about these things and they have expressed their readiness to change the status quo on Saturday.
There have been cases of some strong candidates in the history of Local Government elections in Lagos who were so close to victory but they were allegedly manipulated out on Election Day. What are the arrangements you have made to secure that victory you are so sure of at the polls on Saturday?
When there is a revolution, you cannot stop the will of the people. No man can stop the sun from coming out when it is time for it to shine. It is time for a change of the system in Agege. The people are resolute. There is a general saying that once you know what is wrong with you, your problem is half-solved, at least you can go to your doctor and he knows the medicine you need. We know everything their plans, we know all their machineries that they may want to employ to rig the elections and we have sounded the warning loud and clear that we will not accept rigging. That is why we have reached out to the media to also ensure that every aspect of this election is duly monitored, in order forpeace to reign. The people have already made up their minds not only to vote, but also to ensure that their votes are well counted and recorded. We are set to match them might for might. And even the chairman of LASIEC (may God be with her and give her more strength) has already told her officers ‘rig and go to jail’. And she is not compromising in any way, They have tried so many times to postpone this election, they tried so much to intimidate the chairperson and evenwanted to replace her, but she has been so strong.
Your party, the PDP has been rocked with a lot of crises, until the Supreme Court resolved the leadership crisis last week. Going into the elections this Saturday, will you say that your house is in order and are you certain that there won’t be future problems as regards candidacy even after you might have emerged winner?
I have been asked this question a lot of times and my answer has always been that; we have a country and the country is not a Banana Republic, there is rule of law that guide all that we are doing. There was an appeal court ruling that said Sen. Alli Modu-Sherif was the authentic chairman of the PDP and LASIEC said that we are going to recognise the candidates presented by the Sherif leadership for the council elections. What Sherif did then was not a crime and that is why after the ruling of the Supreme Court over the party leadership, he cannot be charged to court. Which means what he has done before the latest court verdict was right. So, during the time we had our primaries for this election, PDP as a party, with Sherif as its chairman presented candidates and LASIEC said those are the candidates it duly recognised. No other lists of candidates were presented to LASIEC by any other faction. Our primary election was witnessed by constitutional authorities and our names were taken to LASIEC, we were screened and fully accepted by LASIEC to stand for the polls. The Supreme Court judgement last week was basically for the national leadership of the party and the state organs, as well as other structures of the party remains intact. The convention is coming up and then, maybe we may come out with some new developments. Although some people pulled out of the party along the line, we have remained in PDP. Just like we worked with Sherif when the court said he was Chairman of PDP, we are now under the leadership of Sen. Markarfi. We are not the courts, but we are bound to follow the rulings from them. So, PDP in Lagos is united and we have a common purpose to serve at the poll on Saturday.
Agege has a massive population of the Hausas and many will believe that you have maximum from them. But how have you been accepted among the Yorubas and other tribes?
Our movement has no ethnic colouration. We are united in purpose as far as this election. This is not about any tribe, it is about the people. We appreciate the support of the Hausa population, but it is not only for them. We are for everybody. We have large support from the Hausas, the Arewa community, we have massive support from the Yorubas (the Vice Chairmanship candidate is a Yoruba man) and all the Igbo people in Agege are behind us. We have the youths, the elderly, the women and even the children who cannot vote behind us in this movement. You can check this from all our rallies. But more than anything, we have the Almighty God behind us.
What are the cardinal campaign promises you have made to the people of Agege?
We have 4 cardinal points on which we have based our campaign; the first is security. We have to secure Agege. I have done my research well. Apart from the 8 major entrances into Agege, there are about 18 other entrances. We are going to cover all these entrances with CCTV Cameras and we are going to have a control room inside the local government. We will be using this to assit other security bodies within the state to achieve effective security, which is paramount to us. At the beginning of this movement, we had a meeting with some youths who used to foment trouble in Agege, the Awawa Boys, we were able to achieve peace with them. These are the things that are very important. With security, we are going to have investments coming and with that our second cardinal point, which is development will now come to play. With development, there will be employment. When there is employment, people will now be empowered to pay their children school fees and so on, which will now bring to fore, our third cardinal point, which is educating our people. Then the fourth cardinal point is having a clean environment, which is key in achieving healthy living. We are keen about the help of our people.
Beautiful actress cum singer, Ogoma Obi, better addressed as Princess, is one entertainer that can't stop thanking God for His mercies on her. And the reason is not farfetched. The Oru, Imo born thespian survived an auto crash miraculously in 2015. The incident has since drawn her closer to God, and that's the real reason she now came out with a new album, Ekeneya (Thanking God for Everything).
She spoke on this and other issues revolving around her life and career when she granted us an interview a couple of days back in Ogba, Lagos.
What's going on now in your life and career?
I thank God, it's been good so far. My acting career is going on fine. I just returned from Asaba for a movie on cultism in the university, the effects and how to curb cultism and all that. And presently as a musician, I just released two singles - contemporary gospel, Ekeneya and The Promise. And I am warming up to shoot a video for Ekenaya where I featured K-Light.
What informed the titled and what's the meaning of Ekeneya?
Ekeneya means Thank God for everything about my life, career and family. It's just about everything that has been happening in my life. I just need to tell my story of how I overcame everything that has happened and how God has brought me this far.
With a heart filled with gratitude, that's what actually informed the title, Ekeneya. And if you listen to it, you will see how far God has taken me to and how much it took me to be where I am today. So, I am very grateful to God about everything around me life and career.
When exactly are you commencing work on the video?
I think by next week, I should be shooting the video. So, I am appealing to my fans to wait for the video to drop. That's where they will see how and why I am praising God, telling my own story myself.
This one sounds like a gospel music but the other time we had a chat with you, it's like you're doing secular music. Why gospel now?
No, it's not secular, I do gospel, inspirational and love songs. I do song that can be played at weddings, birthdays and all that. Even in the gospel album, I have some songs people can play at a wedding, birthday and other ceremonies.
You're a singer and an actress, how do you jiggle the two?
The two are both demanding. But there's one beautiful thing about entertainment, you still have a lot of time in your hands. Like I took a back seat from music for some time and went into acting. And once you go music, you don't go back. It's my first love and it keeps beckoning.
And when those songs came into my heart, I got a conviction that it's about time I tell the story. For me, gospel track in my album is not just music, it's a testimony. You are telling a story. So, I am just giving a testimony, my own testimony of what God has done for me all this while.
To me, telling it in the church alone is not enough. I feel every hear should hear my testimony. That’s what informed releasing the album.
What's special about the testimony you're hammering on?
My God! What's special about it is awesome. I went through an auto crash. My car was damaged beyond repair but I came out alive. I couldn't say this was how it happened like that, but I know it's God. Also, my elder sister was diagnosed of last stage of cancer, but today she's still alive hale and hearty. She also just released an album, telling her own story too. It’s all a miracle that no man can comprehend.
My sister's cancer was so terrible that she couldn't even walk, she was bedridden throughout. But if you see her now and they tell she suffered cancer, you won't believe it. That's how merciful the God we worship is. I can't just hold back. I need to shout, I need to tell the story of God's miracle in the family. That's why I came out with the album.
When exactly did the accident happen and where?
It happened in 2015 on Ikorodu Road, Lagos. It's a terrible one but God saved me. It's beyond my knowledge how I came out uninjured. I never knew I could come out of it. It was those that witnessed it that told me the story because I was unconscious for hours. But I thank God, the whole thing has become history.
What's the situation of the car now?
The car was a write-off. There was nothing to repair about it.
So, since, you have been jumping okada and public buses or you have replaced the car?
(Laughs) That happened for a while but I have replaced the car. I thank God for that.
What's the experience like doing without a car for that while?
It's okay. That's part of life experience. I don't really see it as a bad thing. One of the good things in boarding public buses is that it makes you look fit. I could realize that when I was cruising around in my car, I was adding weight.
But for the period I didn't have a car, I looked fit. Though, it's a bit tiring for some time, I have no reason to complain. Life can’t be 100 percent straight. There must be a bend somehow.
Let's talk about your acting career. You have not really featured in movies recently, why? Or your music career is taking you off acting?
Not really. It's just because there are some scripts I get that I don't like. For example, all these internet movies. I mean movies that have some nude scenes or some kind of roles that are not godly, I turn them down. That's why you don't see me in so many movies recently. There're some things you need to walk away from because of your image.
Your career as an actress has just spanned about four years and you have carved a niche for yourself. What would you say is working for you?
First, I will say God. Then, I think I am good at what I do. And I am very calm. I like to take corrections. I learn from others who're better than me. I am a good listener. There are lots of people that don't like to be corrected even when they're going wrong. They just like repeating the same mistakes over and over in every role. And with that, you can't move an inch as an actor.
Where do we see Ogoma in the next five years, career wise?
Oh God! Eyes have not seen yet, ears have not heard neither has it been conceived into the heart of any man what God has prepared for me. And I will tell you in the next few years, I am going to be celebrated all over. By God's grace, I am going up conquer the whole world, getting everybody joining me and testifying, to what God has done in my life.
No doubt, you must be close to 40 now…
(Cuts in) No, I am just in my mid 30s, I am not up to 40 yet o.
But you're yet to settle down. Is that not giving you any sleepless night?
As a child of God, I think about it. I had a broken engagement and I took some times off. It wasn't his fault nor mine fully. We both had a fair share of fault that led to the premature break-up. But I am someone that learns from my mistakes.
So, I learnt from it. And I know in the next few months or before the year runs out, I will settle down by God's grace.
That means you're not searching?
Yes, I am not searching. That I believe but I am still praying.
That means you have found a new man you're committing into the hands of God?
Yes, there's a man in my life. I am not searching at all.
You're addressed as a princess, is it because of your sexy looks?
Not really, but I am a princess truly. My father was a king of my town, now late. He was the king of Obolo in Oru Local government area, Imo State, the late Eze B. E. Obi. He was also one time chairman of Oru local government and he was one of the people that created Oru Local government.
So, if people call me princess, it's not because of my looks but because I am from a royal family
Very passionate about the holistic development of Ikorodu Federal Constituency in Lagos State, Hon Babajimi Benson who presently represents this Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives has indeed recorded several feats just in his first term as a Legislator. Apart from several laudable motions which he has spearheaded in the Green House, his Non-Profit Icare Project tagged 'StartUp Ikorodu' meant for building entrepreneurial ecosystem for Ikorodu has recorded success with hundreds of youths benefiting from the human capacity development. A lawyer by Profession, the handsome dude speaks on his experiences so far as a Federal Lawmaker. Excerpts
Q What has been some of the experiences so far at the Federal House of Rep?
ANS The experience has been so good, met people from different part of the country representing their respective constituencies. I have witnessed what is really called the National Budget, power tussles and many more national issues that are discussed in the society trivially. I have been able to see that Legislation is a veritable tool of social change and the legislatures have got the shortest reign in governance in this country over the years. What I mean is that, anytime a military takes over in the past, they will suspend the National Assembly but the Executive and Judiciary still continue. But now, it is gradually gaining its feet, with time the legislature will get there in Nigeria.
Q What are some of the impacts you think you have made in the House?
ANS I have been able to interject in some of the areas that affect my constituency, like the Ikorodu-Shagamu road, the executive has assured it will be in next year’s budget. I raised the motion that the Police should be proactive in freeing the school girls that were abducted in Barbington Macauley School, we thank God they were rescued. I have co-sponsored a motion that has to do with employment, because 70% of our youths constitute our population and majority of them are unemployed, I did that with Hon Gbajabiamila seeking for ways it can be ameliorated. I have been made Ad-Hoc Chairman of some important committees; I was the Chairman Ad-hoc Committee that investigated the Power Distributions Companies, to look at the infrastructure and billing challenges. I was also part of the Committee that investigated the action of Attorney General as it concerns the House of Assembly issue, I am also a member of constitutional drafting committee, I represent Lagos in the Committee.
Q How has the House of Representatives been able to handle several frictions that have brought both the National Assembly and Executive against each other?
ANS Being a very important arm of government, and the fact that we mean well, all the issues we raised are always pro-people. Although the issues of the budget brought us against each other, but this is democracy, there are bound to be slips but it will be corrected. I am sure such will not come up when the next budget is prepared. I believe this year's budget epitomises change, in the past budget were just passed without scrutiny. The 2016 budget for the first time represents the wishes and aspirations of Nigerian people.
Q The issue of Kogi is still pending, as a member of the committee; can you tell us what actually happened ab-initio?
ANS What actually happened was that from a House that comprises of 25 members, only 5 were presiding and the others wrote a petition to us that they were being prevented because they have the police backing, so a committee was set up which I was among. The situation was not normal by section  4 in the constitution, hence we invoked the section to take over running in the House, the Senate were on the same page with us but unfortunately, the Attorney-General told the Inspector-General Solomon Arase to re-open the House for Legislation, it was that action that made just 5 people to pass the budget in the State.
Q What will the National Assembly do now that the Kogi House is functioning with?
ANS In our opinion, we have advised the Attorney General according to our constitutional rights and resolutions, if he has contrary view, he should seek legal redress. To us, whatever they are doing there is illegal, so he needs to reverse his order.
Q The budget has been passed, what are your expectations?
ANS Nigerians are very resilience, I must commend that despite the fact that we generate less than 3,000 MW, we still stand strong as the biggest economy in Africa. I have always said if we had power, we will overtake India. India GDP is 2trillion, ours is 500billion dollars, they have 24hrs power, however if we have steady power supply we will overtake them. This new administration has a good plan to increase power. There are ample plans and policies to ensure the economy is diversified. If we are able to diversify and generate as much as we generate in Oil, we won’t be in this kind of mess. If you do not know, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire import more than us, the GDP to import ratio here is low, I believe this government will definitely address that overtime.
Q How optimistic are you that the economy will be revitalized?
ANS I am optimistic because our major bane has been corruption, and that is what this government has started tackling head-on. It has shown its anti-corruption stance and frugality, his body language frowns at corruption totally.
Q How would you rate the performance of Governor Ambode in Lagos State?
ANS I will say the Governor is consolidating, he has brought out new initiatives that would keep youths off the street, even as a Legislator, I am banking on some of his ideas, like the employment trust fund of 1billion he will make available for each division, so we are helping them train our youths in Ikorodu and we will pass them over to the government after that. He's also helping doing some projects, like building two roads in each Local Government, you can imagine if he continues this for 4years in all the Local Governments, our roads will surely be world class. They have also sign, MoU for the construction of the Fourth Mainland Bridge which will also bring commerce to Ikorodu, the Mile 12 Market has been relocated to Imota, he recently commissioned a Market in Sabo, lots are happening in my Constituency and that is the reflection in all the other Local Governments.
Q What are some of the supports you are also giving in form of security to your constituency?
ANS Since the Commissioner of Police reports directly to IGP, most people have their own community operatives, and in Ikorodu we have what we call 'On'yabo', they stand as the community security and they are doing very well to ensure orderliness in the area. Recently, one of their chiefs was gunned down by a suspected cultist, I had a strong word with the Commissioner of Police to make sure the culprit is found and brought to book. We keep supporting the police with any information as well, we know their plight because we learnt they are also under-policed but we have told them to take Ikorodu as a special case because Ikorodu is the fastest growing community in Lagos State.
Q Your Empowerment Scheme; “Startup Ikorodu”, how did you conceive the idea and what are the achievements so far?
ANS It is a process whereby we brought together competitive youths, we scrutinize them and we choose the best 100 and hand them over to Lagos State Vocational Institute and some other partners that we have after three months training. We then hand them over to Ministry of Wealth Creation in the State who will give them capital to start up what they have learnt. After that we go to our Database to look for another 100 and start the process all over again.
Q Do you intend to do this throughout your 4year term?
ANS Yes, and apart from this we have our 'Back To School' project. I lead my team with artisans among us, we go to schools when they are on holidays to help clean up the schools and do some carpentry works where necessary. We have been doing that and we will continue.
Q What are some of the direct support or empowerment you have done in your constituency?
ANS We own a grader and roller which we use in grading some of our roads, Ikorodu is one of the fastest growing community in the State. There are so many area that are just opening up, we try to go to the site with our grader, so that they are commute-able pending when the road will be properly given attention by the State.
Q What are some of other plans you have up your sleeve for your constituency?
ANS We are planning to make sure the LCDA are listed by the Government, we want to have a kind of food-bank for indigent people in the Constituency, whereby, we give the vulnerable a bag of food that can last them for 3months. We are also expanding on our Micro Finance loan project that we give our constituents. We already have 400 people, we write-off the interest element to ease peoples burden. Initially, it was N4million, now it has grown to N10million because they pay back and our partner bank grants them more.
Q For you, what has really changed in you since you became member of the federal House of Representatives?
ANS Now, I can easily dissect anybody coming to me for assistance. I have been able to move close to the grassroot and understands that they do not even want much, at times, just N10,000 can change somebody's life, what they need is just the support. I have realised that we are very entrepreneurial in Ikorodu, they are ready to work as much as they see the support
Elvina, one of the beautiful daughter of billionaire Michale Ibu, recently in chat confessed she does not have time for men because of her tight work schedule but she might consider a date out if she see a nice cool man who fits her.
Let me start by asking how have you been enjoying your relationship with colleagues in showbiz, given your silverspoon background?
I don’t think there is any difference with me and anybody else in entertainment. Entertainment is a tough business whether you came for money or not, to break into it is just as hard. At the end of the day, it does not really boil down to cash that make you popular. It boils down to raw talent; being at the right place at the right time, having the right backing and knowing the right people. And just destiny; when God said it’s for you. Then it’s for you.
How did you start with entertainment and what has the public gauge been like?
Recently, only last week, I realized that I have been in entertainment for thirty something years and I’m only 43 years old. It occurred to me when I was having a conversation with my friend that I was eight years old when I entered the first competition. It was not a school competition; it was a local area competition. It was a singing competition and I won. So, my first professional act, if I could say that, was when I was eight and now I am 43 years. It’s something I have always been in. I have my production company, Twice As Nice since the year 2000, and we have been going strong for almost sixteen years. There is my acting and being an on-air personality and so on. I think the last year or so I just decided I wanted to take it to another level. And so far it’s being good.
People know you as a complete showbiz person, but at a point you lost your voice and you stopped singing. Do you feel like you are missing a part of you; do you feel like going back to singing?
Whatever happens in my life, I put it down to the work of God. I don’t ever think evil. Even if it seems like a negative thing; I feel that God hand is always in it. When I was singing, I was concentrating so much on my singing that I forgot that I could do so many other things. So, when I lost my voice I had to sit down and go back to the books and asked myself, what I am going to do now. So, if I had not lost my voice my company would not have been opened, I would not have been in all the productions I had been in, I would not have done Idol West Africa, I probably would not be an on-air personality right now. So, I don’t want to say I regret or I feel I’m missing out on something because God holds me in the direction He wanted me to go. As God will have it, there is a voice there now. It’s just that I don’t use it, the voice that went has returned although it’s a different type of voice. I enjoy so much doing what I do now that I have no regret whatsoever. It’s just the direction God wanted me to go.
What is it that encouraged you into showbiz and who was it?
It’s my mother’s fault (laughter). She took me to the theater. And I fell in love. The first show I went to see I was five years old then. It was when Epitome came to Nigeria. She took me to watch Epitome and that was it. There was no going back; I fell in love with the theater. My mum loved music, my father also loves music, and my mum was the practical one. She was the one that will say let’s go and watch this, let’s go and watch that. Even though, she was not a Nigerian, she was born and raised in Oron. Now it is Akwa Ibom, then it was Calabar. You know they are very musical people, very dramatic; they have all their different masquerades which you call egungun. She was very much part of the Calabar community. So, that was a big influence on me because we used to go to their festivals, where we watched the masquerades, regatta and all those kind of things. And all came down into this package that I fell in love with. If she was alive, she would have been 89 or 90 years old this year. She was in that school of old musicals, Jim Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Nat and co, and I was the baby. I was always with my mother, wherever she went I went. Most times, during the weekend when she was relaxing at home she will be watching these old musicals and naturally I would be watching them with her. So, it’s my mother’s fault I fell in love with showbiz. When I got to school in England I discovered that I have a talent in showbiz so everything just tied together. I deceived myself a long time simply because I was a Nigerian child. I said I wanted to be a lawyer. I will still go and study that law one day. It has something that interests me; criminal law, but I grew up going to school thinking I was going to be a barrister one day. That was my ambition but I was doing the singing, the dancing and the theater outside school and within school and so on. It was when I was 17 years old that I realized that this is not for me again. This is something I really want to do.
Do you still wish to go back and study law?
It’s never too late to go to school. I already have a degree anyway. Apart from my Theater Arts degree I also have degree in International Relations and Economics. I don’t believe it’s ever too late to study. But, the hustle is too much, so until when one stops hustling. You know when you are very comfortable, when you can retire. That is the way I see myself. Maybe in the next ten years I’m going to study PHD in African agical rites and culture. And study my law; I don’t see why not. If I’m not hustling then I can be in school just for the sake of gaining knowledge. They say knowledge is power. Just for my own comfort, or for my own self pleasure, whichever way you want to put it.
I want us to go back to the era of watching movies, following mum around. How was it like being baby of the house, I mean the pampering and all that?
Well, everyone thinks the last born is always spoilt. On the contrary, I was never spoilt. My father has 17 children from six ladies. My mother was the first wife, so from my mother there are 7 of us but my eldest brother was Azikiwe. My mum had him and she met my father and had Oscar and the rest of us. I really was the baby. But I was never spoilt, I was a disciplined child. I was cheeky but it was only my people I knew I could be cheeky to. And I was extremely shy. And then unfortunately, when I got to the age when maybe the spoiling was to start in the way of having enough pocket money to go to school and buying designers glasses and the rest, my mum passed on. I was 17 then. When you start enjoying, if your parents have money, it is at that stage you really start to enjoy it. You don’t have to worry in the university and so on. Unfortunately, my mum died. I grew up overnight. And you know polygamy is polygamy. You know what men are like. My father moved on and then I became an independent person overnight. But it’s good like I said; nothing happens to me that God’s hands are not there. If it had not happened that way then I won’t be the person that I am today. But I was never spoilt. In fact, I was the only one out of all my mother’s children that worked when I was in school. Nobody else had to, but I was the only one that has to have a part time job and so on and so forth. Because by the time I got to that stage, my mum was gone. So, it’s all good, everything is planned. Everybody has their own destiny.
Does that experience tell you something about polygamy?
Polygamy is the most evil, devastatingly messed up, and polygamy should be outlawed. It destroys life, it really does. When the men are going about doing what they feel like doing, they don’t remember they will die by God grace. And leave their children behind and they don’t make plans, let me say emotional plans. I was lucky in the sense that I had a strong mother, who believed in unity. She made sure that my sisters and brothers were close; we were not allowed to stay divided, say this is my half-sister or step-sister. She would tell you, you are talking nonsense. She would say she is either your sister or your brother, there is nothing like half or step. She made sure even through all the challenges, that we were all united. She always used to say, we will die by God grace and leave you. You will bury us, we will not bury you. So, when we die and leave you, who do you have? Now, when you are a man and form a polygamous family and you do not make sure that your children are united, it is the most evil of things. Because, we find that the children will start fighting each other. It’s like civil war; it’s like creating lots and lots of little civil wars. And if you are a creator of war, then you must be an agent, if you know what I mean. So, Polygamy is just out of it. I will also say to all women that are thinking of becoming second wives; don’t do it! You are better than that; you deserve to be the first wife and only wife. Even if you don’t marry, it’s better than marrying somebody else’s husband. It’s a horrible practice. As far as I am concerned, polygamists should be jailed too, both the men and women. There are actually women out there looking for how to marry somebody else’s husband. If the men don’t have any women that are willing, then you would not have one. It’s not a one-way game.
When did you consider your happiest moment, with all the challenges?
That was the day I gave birth to my son. There is no comparison, I have a son, and his name is Elisha. And the day I gave birth to him was my happiest day. That was the 20th of September, 2008, 9:30 am, to be precise.
Let’s talk about your showbiz career, at what stage are you now?
Showbiz is going very well. Presently, I am working as an on-air personality for Classic FM. For many years, people have been asking me to go into MC stuff because it comes to me naturally. I had only been drawing my legs, the same way I was drawing my legs to do broadcasting. It seems the thing has hooked me, so I’m doing MC work now and I am enjoying it. I just finished producing a movie called Cajoling, which I also acted in. The film should be coming out in January 2016. I am about to produce another film, a short film, hopefully, it will be shot before the end of the year. Thus, by the time we finish editing, it should be coming out at the beginning of next year. I am also in a stage production called Hear Word, it’s a play. The full title is Naija Women, Hear Word. And it’s a play about the plight of women in this country, but it has actually grown so much bigger than even the director and writer expected, so we have been on stage several times. We were on stage last year twice; we have been on stage this year. We are going back from 21st to 27th December and we will perform in Lagos. By God’s grace, next, we will be on tour. So, that is all part of what I am doing. I just finished a musical last October? It was a musical called The Magic Of The Musical. Also a stage play; I was in that as well. So, the acting, the singing, the MCing, the radio broadcasting, the producing, everything is all coming together. And I hope to be extremely busy next year. I like being busy, even though I complain of being tired. I rather be busy than idle. So, I have quite a lot of things lined up.
Are you going to put the play on home video for family entertainment?
The creator and the director will be in a better position to answer that question. You know, we, theater people are quite snobbish. We believe theater is theater, if you want to watch come to the theater and watch it. What is the point of us putting it on DVD, if it is film, then let us do film. You know the theater experience is an experience, which is why Oyinbo people call it the theater experience. It’s an experience, the theater is not like anything you do, it’s not like watching a movie, and it’s not like watching a musical concert. It’s a whole different world, so apart from the fact that we were doing a play that has a message we also want a revival of the theater. We want people to want to go to the theater. Instead of saying let’s go to Silverbird to watch James Bond, why not say let’s go and watch Aunty Joke Silva at the Muson, which is just as entertaining if not more?
You used to be very sociable, but it seems these entertainment things have taken away your attention. Is that correct?
Well, man must work. You have to work to eat, that was how I was raised. And I have a son to feed. But the joy of what I do is that I love doing what I do. So, half of the time, it doesn’t seem like work. You get fatigued; because you are human you get physically tired. There is no way you can work from nine o’clock in the morning to midnight everyday and you will not get tired. While you are working you don’t feel it, because I so love what I do. And I am still sociable, but entertainment is social now. So, if you try to run away from it, you are still amidst people, you are still mixing, you are still blending. It’s just that when one gets an opportunity to rest rather than go and groove, you rather go and sleep and rest your head and your body a little bit.
So, you don’t have much time to relax as it used to be?
Not as much as I will like, but I am not complaining. The only time I sometimes feel I need more time on my hand is when I feel I have not spent enough time with my son. You know sometimes, I feel guilty that I need to spend more time with him, but he is such a cool dude. The guy is so independent and so understanding of what mum does. I really don’t have any issue with him, plus we are a close knit family. He is constantly surrounded by love. Even when I am not there, my sisters, sisters-in-law and my brothers will be there, so he was completely surrounded by love. He is a well rounded kid. He is okay.
You seem to be more into God now?
I have always being into God. That is never changed, but as you grow older you just learn more. You pray to be closer to God; you see things happening around you that give you cause to realize that it is very important to be very close to God. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pastor, as far back as when I was eleven. The first thing I wanted to do was to be a pastor, at that time the Anglican Church did not allow female pastors. Otherwise, I would have gone to theology school and may be by now I will be called Reverend Elvina Ibru. I am no angel, trust me, but I do love God. I realize He is number one in my life. Above everything, God is first.
Despite knowing you have a kid, do men still make love passes at you?
Do men ever seize calling women? Una dey gree women rest? (general laughter). The way other women run away is the same way I run away; I am no different to the next woman on the street. The truth is that I don’t even have time. Sometime, it sounds funny to find time for me to go on a date. I work till midnight every day, so, when will I have time? But, I’m just like every other person. If a nice man comes along that is cool and loving, I will go out on date with him when I get the chance. And if he is not my type, I will tell him, no vex you are not the one for me. So that is it, nothing unusual.
Does it even occur to you that you are a daughter of a billionaire, does it reflect the way you relate to people?
The way I was raised, there is an African proverb that says, no matter how high you raise your shoulder it can never be above your head. That is how I was raised. In short, humility is the key to life. Realizing that just because you come from a background of wealth, that it does not make you any special or any better than anybody else, is a very big lesson in life. That is how we were raised; we were raised to always look at others as equals, never to look down on anybody. Although, one is reminded everyday that we are blessed in the sense that we live well, we have nice houses, nice cars with AC, we have generating sets, we are reminded everyday that you are blessed and you come from a background of substance. But at the same time, it is not something that you dwell on, because we don’t discriminate, we don’t look down on anybody, and we don’t feel as if we are better than anyone. So, in that sense my father being a billionaire has never affected us and he himself is the most humble. He is humble to a fault and he married a woman- my mother – that feels the same way. So, we are not affected by that but the respect and regard I had for my father is beyond any other man I can think of in this world. I am yet to meet a man I have more respect for than my father.
When your mother was alive, were you closer to him than her?
No o, I was my mother’s hand bag. But I have always being a loving child, a very loving person; I show my love and tell you I love you. And I’m not ashamed to tell you. When everybody else was a little bit scared, I don’t want to use that word, maybe out of respect for him, they wouldn’t go too near him. Me I dey enter im armpit, whether he likes it or not. Anytime I was around I was always all over him, sitting on his leg, laughing with him and bringing his food. I will say I was close to my father as much as i could. But me and my mama, I be my mama’s two-eyes.
You have almost everything at your beck and call, how do you give back to the society?
In any which way one can always. It is not something I make a song and dance about, I don’t believe in all of these opening NGOs and foundations. Do your thing, the one you can do quietly. You don’t have to make a song and dance about it. People who know you know. My interest is in youths, children and women empowerment. I believe if you empower the youths and the women, the face of this country will change. Let the old people go, they have tried their best. We have seen what they can do. They fact that they don’t help the youths disturb me a lot, because the youths are blamed for a lot of things but when you think about it, you ask yourself, have they been enhanced in any way? Back in the days, when our father went to school it was almost guaranteed that if you have a degree or school certificate, which was like a first degree in those days, when you come out, a job is waiting for you. Youth service was organized; it wasn’t a camp with cesspit of diseases you are forced into. It was a reason for you to meet people from different tribes and so on and so forth. That was the original idea, I may be wrong. It’s not now that they are just putting people’s children, just to suffer them. If I were the president of this country, the first thing I would do is to eradicate youth corps. What are they suffering them for? It should be scrapped. Number one, before a child graduates, wahala don dey; strike, lecturer want to press my yansh, cult guys want me to join, this one is raping and that one is doing drugs, armed robber, no light on campus, teachers are doing anyhow, lecturers are not complete. For somebody to graduate, you need to give the person a mega award to say you have tried. That one never finish, you now tell me to leave my home- if I live in Lagos, I should go to Minna, where I don’t know anybody, to go to one dirty camp and I am expected to look after myself, expected to pay for boarding, my uniform and at the end of it, where is the job. So, every day you are saying youths, youths are this, youths are that. What are you doing to empower the youth, so that they are moving in the right direction? This is the future. Our presidents are too old, how old is Obama? Give the youths a chance, let them prove to us what they can do. You were once a youth, Buhari was once a youth. Obasanjo was once a youth. Nobody came out of the stomach at the age of 73. We were all youth, but they had opportunity, whether they want to admit it or not that the Nigeria of then is not the Nigeria of today. Things are difficult. In those days, if you graduated from Igbobi College, you didn’t need to go to the university, you just get a job. Now even if you have a master’s degree, you are at home. I know graduates that are waiters, waitresses, doormen, so what am I going to the school for. I told my son, Elisha the other day, we were gisting and I told him he should not come and tell me he wants to be a doctor or a lawyer. I told him he should go find a ball to kick or carry microphone and go do hip-hop because that is where the money is. Everybody now wants to be in entertainment, because if you look at it, it is almost a sure banker in this country now. Football and music is where the money is, whether the dollar went up or down, it is none of our business, just pay us. If I’m performing at your party for five million, give me my five million or find another Whizkid or Davido. Now everybody wants to be actor, singer or a model, but that is not how it was in those days. They encourage you now to become an engineer, now you are an engineer and you are still at home. You are an engineer doing what; being a waiter? It’s ridiculous. A whole doctor cannot pay house rent, but you are saving people’s life. So, the government needs to do something.
Let discuss the state of Nigerian women, do you think Nigeria women are getting their real worth in the scheme of things i.e. politics?
Let me say there is hope; after all we have a female governor, don’t we? It has been confirmed and if the man is in court, he will remain there, in Jesus name. Ordinarily, I will say no, although we have had a few notable women; Aunty Dora, who has passed on, Diezani, Aunty Ndidi Okereke. There have been a few notable ones but in comparison with the men that is not a lot. The ratio is not healthy, in my opinion. But, I wouldn’t put down Nigeria to the point of saying we are so backward that we are not giving women a fair chance. I think we are coming up; the area in which women are not being giving a fair chance to me is not in the business or political world, it is in the home front. You see too many double standards as far as the home front is concerned. Right for women when their husband dies, the fact that if you don’t have a male child, is a problem. The double standard of, if a man cheats on his wife, it’s alright but when the woman cheats on her husband, she is a Jezebel. For me, we are not treated fairly more in those areas. If you are a powerful woman, nobody can try you anyway. To me, those are the real issues, where women are not being equally treated. What happen if a man dies, the family come and kick her out of the house that this is their brother’s property. What protection does she have for herself and her children? What kind of pensions plan is available to her? What kind of widow support is available? Because there are women who depend solely on their husbands and once they are gone everything is gone. What kind of right do we have for women that are suffering domestic violence and their children being abused? Why are we marrying 12 year old children? Those are the kind of issues that I feel are not being addressed fully. IVF, why is there IVF in Nigeria. It’s because men are sleeping with babies. How are these girls being protected, why is it not illegal? Why are we talking two consenting male adults that want to be with each other that they will go to jail, but we are not jailing people that are marrying 12 years old girls? How does that work? It doesn’t make sense to me. In entertainment I know how it was for me, but now it’s getting better. There are lots of powerful women. Look at Mo Abudu and the late Aunty Amaka Igwe. She was powerful in showbiz. There are a few of us coming up. I think it’s revolving but we really need to face the social issues.
We are not seeing much of the Ibrus in politics?
Are we really a political family? Although, there is Uncle Felix, who of course was the first civilian governor of Delta state, there is Uncle Alex, God rest his soul, who was minister of finance during the Abacha regime. Oscar wanted to go into it, he went for governorship, I think in Delta. Apart from that, I will not say the Ibrus are big political family. We are business family, na business dey our body. We like to make money, business flows in the family, even the little ones. I think in every family, everybody has his calling. So, when you have Uncle Felix of this world, who is still a senator. Obviously, he is called into politics. But, I wouldn’t state the Ibrus have are big political followers.
How will you define style and fashion?
Fashion and style is, comfort and simplicity. I don’t believe in big shine. You can see me wearing my Jalamia. I bought one from an aboki on the road for 1,500. I see a nice dress, if it Christian Dior, Nina Richey and if it’s 2000 dollars and its beautiful, if I like and I have the money, I will buy it. The day I don’t have the money, I comot my eyes. Adire fabrics full market, tie and dye full market. Jalamia full road. I love dressing in Nigerian fabrics, when I do the red carpet I tend to use Nigerian fabrics or designs. I just believe that we should be comfortable; you should understand that your body is not somebody else’s body. For instance, I have a certain shape and size; I will not wear what Geneveive Nnaji is wearing. She is petite. And I will not wear what Agbani Darego is wearing. I will wear what is good for my own shape and size. So, at the end of the day, it is comfort and simplicity.
How often do you change your wardrobe and who does it?
When I see what I like I buy it. If the wardrobe is getting too full I do a spring cleaning. I don’t wear this, I don’t wear that, I give them out. But I don’t say it is every three months that I have to change my wardrobe; what for? I get wetin I dey take my money do, not to buy cloth!
What is idea of an average Nigeria man?
Nigerian men are nice o. It’s just that most of us have been brain washed since we were children. Even, the way we raised our boys is different from the way we raised our girls also as women. If a Nigerian man grows up in a certain way, you can blame him. The same way you cannot blame the woman. Generally, I always defend Nigerian men. I have always dated black men. I have never dated an Oyinbo before, so I don’t know what they are like. I think out of all the black people in the world, Nigerian men are the most generous and most responsible in the way that 80% of Nigerians men will kill themselves to go to school even if they don’t come from a wealthy background. They want to go to school, an average Nigeria man wants to work. He doesn’t want to lazy around. Nigerian men have pride; they believe that they should be the bread winners. Even, when it comes to look they are very handsome. They are the most handsome black men in the world. They are generous; most Nigeria men that have money will look after their wife. They will look after their family. Even if their wife is working, they still feel their responsibility is to provide for the family. I always stand up for Nigeria men, I think Nigerian men are great.
How will you advice women who see Elvina Ibru and want to be as lucky as she is?
Oh! She can never be Ibru’s daughter; she should just forget that one.
She cannot even be like. The first thing is, never to want to be like anybody. I have never wanted to be like anybody. I idolized people but have always wanted to be like myself, which I think is the first key to success. Michael Ibru was himself; he never wanted to be like anybody. I believe in hard work. You know you keep going back to the Ibrus but I need to make it very clear that no one comeS to drop Ghana-must-go full of cash every Wednesday for me or any member of the Ibru family as the case maybe. And nobody ever did the same for my father. We all grew up believing in handwork, education, and humility and we address people properly and with respect. So now, I was boosted in life in the sense that I have a very good educational background. So, for me, that is the start of everything. And that is the secret of the Ibru’s wealth, if you like. If there is a woman out there, a young girl who wish to grow, I will say to her, education is the key and don’t ever compromise your body because you think it’s going to get you somewhere. Don’t ever think that your body is more powerful than your brain. It is not. Use your brain first, if you use your brain you will know how to get into certain corners. Use your brain not your breasts. One day the boby must fall but the brain is always ticking
Hon. Olayiwola Olawale fondly known as Omititi has endeared himself into mindset of many in Mushin area of Lagos State, presently representing Mushin Constituency 11 in the Lagos State House of Assembly. The Former Special Adviser to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed revealed in this interview how the Assembly is working with the executive to curb the recent robbery incidents in the Lagos State and why he was able to become a household name in his Constituency. Excerpts
. What are some of the experiences you gathered during the electioneering process that culminated into your victory?
. It wasnt easy at all because 15 of us were jostling for a sole ticket during the Primaries. We thank God I won, but after that it was time for the main one which was the main election. It was basically between me, the PDP Candidate and the Accord Party Candidate. The PDP candidate was not that rooted in Mushin Politics but for Accord Party, the experience we learnt during the Representative election which saw their candidate win made us to re-strategize our plans. Again, when the PDP began their own ethnicity and religious politics, we were taking aback because it was strange to us in Lagos as a whole. For me, I have been in it for long, hence I was not really bothered, what I did was to rigorously campaign and dialogue with my people.
. What really worked for you? Knowing that others also campaign and did the necessaries during the electioneering.
My foray into politics in the early years was well utilized. I made sure during the time, I was a Personal Assistant to Former Commissioner for Transport, Dr Muiz Banire and later Special Assistant to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. That shows the experience was there. I reached out to the people of my constituency in terms of empowerment and employment. I even gave some computers to empower them. The Political will i took to that Primaries really worked for me, my political name, Omititi, has been registered in their mind and I have always made myself available anytime they need me. I grew up and resides in Mushin, I know their problems and plights, so they were not hesitant in giving the mandate to me because they believed I know them more than any other contestant in the race.
What was going through you mind when the Accord Party Candidate in the House of Rep., Hon Kako Are defeated APC in his election a week before the Assembly own?
Truly it sent jittery into our spine, but as an active politician, I knew he has his own limitations. I was fully on ground in my own constituency. I was also sure, the Accord can never win in the Assembly because our Party has really done well for people there and I believed the electorates will pay us back and they did.
What are some of the experiences you have garnered over the months as a member of LAHA?
Some of the experiences so far, have to do with the handling of House Leadership. The situation was handled maturedly. The kind of machinery our Leaders in the Party put in place to make sure it went smooth did the job well. Since Hon. Mudashiru Obasa emerged Speaker of the House, there hasn't been any rancour, that tells you our party has really matured and the kind of members we have understand how everything works. On a personal level, I now see that my golden fish has no hidden place in my constituency. I am always noticeable everywhere I go and they will want you to satisfy them irrespective of the situation you are. But I understand, they knew right from time I have always be with them, do the little I can to assist when the need arises. By and large, the experiences have been good because I derive joy in serving my people. I am sure by the time we finish our four year term my people would have benefited a lot from my service.
What is the kind of relationship that exist between the Executive and the Legislative Arms at the moment?
. It has been very cordial. We have been playing that assistant role to the Executives. In the last few months, we have been calling the attention of the Executive to lots of things in performing our oversight functions and they have reacted swiftly to the situations.
. Are you not foreseeing any grumbling as regards sharing of committee chairmen in the House as we are experiencing at Federal?
Not at all, the Speaker has the privilege to select whoever he believes can serve best in each committee based on the profession of the person. So definitely, that is the way it will go and I am certain everybody will be well pleased at the end. We have awyers, Accountants, Educationist and so on, members will be fixed accordingly.
How has the relationship been with the PDP members in the House?
. Fantastic. The crop of PDP members we have, are very cooperative since we assumed office. They have been working in harmony in the best interest of the State because that is why all of us are
What are some of the things you intended doing for your people besides legislating
Legislating is our primary assignment but besides that, in the las few months, i have organized football competition in my constituency to keep young ones who are talented away from the street during their holiday period and develop our grassroot football . Idle mind is also devil's workshop, it afford them to keep busy and away from evils. It was quite interesting, both the winner and the loser were rewarded handsomely.I gave out over 200 free GCE Forms as well as Coaching classes and career talk were organized for youths. All these were done to improve on development of education in my Constituency. Financial Assistance were also given to some members in the constituency and also we assisted some to get employment.
Do you think you can sustain it
By God grace it will be sustained , because that will make people know am a man of my word and a man of integrity. For close to 13years now have been running free computer tranings for them, i even go out of my way to private companies to get them jobs, have been doing this for long.
What has been the support the House has been given to the executive in tackling the menace of crime in the state
ANS We should give kudos to the House because we have not been allowing the executive to rest on this robbery cases even though they have also been very active, the Governorn has engaged all the neccessary agencies including the Police to make sure it curbs all these excesses. We discussed it on the Floor and liased with the executive , thats why the government is buying three helicopters now to strenghten security in the state.
World acclaimed first female talking –drummer Aralola Olumuyiwa otherwise known as Ara is a Legend, having taken her brand of music to International Countries. The foremost lovely and Sexy act in this interview talk more about her career, challenges, among others.
You’re a talking drummer, what influenced you into acting?
I did lots of acting in Primary School. In fact that my father insisted that I studied Law, I wanted to study Theatre Arts. Acting come naturally for me and then it’s easy for us musicians to act, because we act in our musical video.
Why have you not become an ambassador to any brand?
I don’t know, maybe you should ask the brand agent. Though few of agents, has come to me for discussion promising to come back but I’m yet to see them. I’ve not entered into any agreement with any brand, so I’m still available.
Tell us more about yourself?
My name is Aralola Olamuyiwa popularly known as Ara. My stage name Ara was coined from my real name Aralola.
As a world’s renowned female- talking drummer, could you tell us how you discovered yourself?
My love for talking-drum started in the 80’s from my Primary School’s days. I grew up in Warri and my father was Senior Banker in UBA, Efurun. Then, I used to be the head drummer for our cultural group. Back in the days, we used to travel back to Ondo for Festivals and for Islamic Ileya Celebration. At the praying ground at Eid, I used to see a lot of talking-drummers. From my mom’s family house in Ondo, I used to see an old talking-drummer who is late now, and my interest grew for talking drumming from seeing those male talking-drummers, but I noticed that there was no female talking-drummer. At that young age, I became curious and started asking questions but nobody could explained to me. I took up courage and I asked the old talking drummer in my family of I could carry his drum and played it. He gave me Iya Ilu and I played and the man was pleasantly surprised that I could play it. He asked me question if I had been playing drums before and I told him I’ve been playing Konga, Akuba and other traditional drums and not talking drum or Iya Ilu. From then on, it stayed at the back of my mind that one day I’m given the opportunity once again, I would play that instrument. Fast forward now to the year 2000 when I created my brand ‘Ara’. I tried my hands on a lot of instruments such as Saxophone, Flute base guitar, set drums. I now remembered one day the talking drum, so I told my manager that ‘Ara’ means a mystery and we wanted something that will suit the name instrumentally, at that point, I suggested the talking-drum and of course, we purchased it and at that point in time, there was no known female talking drummer, I started looking for people to teach me but stylishly I was turned down. Since we have talking drummer in my band, I started watching closely and one day I asked the player how many tones is it on talking drum and he said, three I told my then manager about it what I intend to do and he agreed with me. I was later taken to the resort. That’s why when I started drumming, Monkeys and Birds were my first audience, because I went into the footpath like a mini-forest near the resort, and play the talking-drum. At a point, I locked up myself in the room and listened to all kinds of music. When I was growing up, my father was a music collector, he had different collections like Fela, Ogunde, IK Dairo, Comfort Omoge, KSA. Ebenezer Obey, James Brown, Barry White, Steve Wonder to mention but a few. I listened to a wide-range of music from R n B, Souls, Highlife, Afro and a couple of others. I trained my ears to listen to all these genres of music. Talking drums has three tones but I trained my ears to hear extra which is why today, I don’t play the conventional talking drum like the traditional talking-drums. I have my own styles, That’s why I can play to a whole lots of foreign music today. That’s how it all began
What was the reaction of Male talking-drummers the very first time you performed in their midst?
I could see on their faces the first time I debut as a female talking-drummer that I might not go far with it. But to God be the glory, different people form diplomatic setting, elitist group among others all embraced me, they applauded me. That day I was encouraged with their reactions which drove me more, till date. I was accepted and given standing ovation. Normally the talking-drummer used to back up, but i perform as a main talking-drummer, drumming, singing and dancing. I did a lot of stunt with talking drumming.
You have the glory of being the first female talking-drummer in the Universe, what have you done to encourage the female folks who want to follow your step as talking drummers?
I meet with every one of them. The first person I know that picked the talking drummer after me is Ayanbinrin but of course every female drummer is Ayanbinrin but that’s her own stage name. When I celebrated my birthday I gave all the female talking-drummers my platform to showcase themselves. I met a couple of them when I have event on campus in Ibadan, and Ife and I called them to be part of my birthday celebration and they used my platform to showcase themselves.
What challenges have face over these years?
The challenge like every venture is for you to overcome. At this point for me, it’s not been able to reach out to lots of people I would have love to reach out to through my music.
Which performance really gave you the big break in the Industry?
I have a couple of those I’ve performed for a lot of big brands. Wyclef’s welcome party, Miss World, Cocacola to mention but a few.
Looking back, what are the high point of your career?
It was my recording with Steven Wonder and it was because, Steven actually impacted a lot in my career and my life. I learnt a whole lot from him, working with Steven Wonder for just a week and looking at him as a living Legend makes me great. God just used him as instrument to open my eye.
When was the high point of your life?
May be i should say when i was locked up in a room, I was not allowed to mingle with anyone, i really gain alot during that period
What about the low-point of your life?
The low point in my career was when at the end of my six year contract with my then management company, I could not boast of N10,000 in my account. At that point in time, they didn’t honour some parts of the contract and because I made a mistake of signing a contract without a lawyer. I had to do it all., When I wanted to leave, the company wanted me to sign another two years contract and I said no, at that point, they are trying to entice me with cars, house and good money but at that point in time, I’d made up my mind because If I stayed, I won’t be able to make anything out of my life. At that time, my International passport was not with me, it was given to my then manager. My passport with the manager could not allow me travel. Steven Wonders called severally to come over for a concert but I couldn’t go because my passport was not released to me. Those were the low moments of my career.
Tell us about your new management and the project you are working on?
My new management is my company, Ara Entertainment of course; we are willing to work with people. There are albums we have some over the years that are yet to be released for some reasons, but very soon, we are going to release them
Honourable Adewale Ojuri representing Odogbolu Constituency in Ogun State House of Assembly has down play criticism the opposition are throwing at the Governor Ibikunle Amosun led government over the fresh 10billion Loan request the House approved for infrastructural development. In this interview, he expantiate more on what the money is meant for, how it will be repay as well his plans for people of his constituency
Q Share with us, some of the experiences you learnt during the election.
ANS It was quite interesting, it wasnt easy at all.The election tells you not to take anything for granted, the strategy developed for the election changed after it was shifted for 6weeks, it changed again after the Presidential election because we noticed people have become more aware with issues on ground and there was a wind of change. So the pressure to vote based on external influence was drastically reduced. The other issue was that the introduction of PVC made it very technical and reduced electoral fraud. It was also a funny election in the area because if your party wins in the House of Representative it does not automatically count that you will win the House of Assembly, hence we need to adjust and read the pulse of the people. It shows we must always keep abreast of what our constituency needs, gone are the days when there will be a blanket that the Party will do the work and you the candidate can relax. I am sure some of the re-runs that will take place in the area will go our way because we have learnt some new lesson from the election.
Q Do you have prior mindset that the election was going to be tough and how were you able to sail through?
ANS Yes I knew it was going to be different, tougher than 2011 because prior to the general elections, there were some elections in some states and it went either ways . There were lots of pressure on the then government to sack the former INEC Boss, the deployment of Army issue, and so many other issues on to the run-up which create lots of tension in the country. The introduction of Card Reader was another thing, we were not sure they were going to use it even until the day of election but which ever way, we were prepared. What I will say is that, the pressure from abroad, Statesmen, international communities, intellectuals were reason why they eventually allowed the election to hold. But we were still not sure that if we win the election, the government let it go. All those shenanigans made the 2015 general elections very tough.
Q. Considering how strong PDP were in Ogun East during the election, how were you able to make it?
ANS. Yes they were strong in the area but we didn't underrate them, this first election was not an indication of the second one. In the first election in Remo side, PDP won almost all the units but later on, APC won 3 out of the 4 seats during the Assembly election. In Ijebu, people made up their mind that they were going to vote for Buhari, so generally we had to change tactics after the Presidential election by telling candidates to present themselves well to their people, we dont have to rely on anybody personality.
Q. Now that you are at the Assembly, how has it been so far?
ANS. I will say it's been a good learning process, I happen to be the APC whip in the House, which makes me a Principal officer, I was also made Chairman of a Committee. The leadership position has made my learning process very fast. Because being a Principal officer, you have some certain responsibilities and some priviledges, it's been a really eye-opener in the last few months. But the whole environment has been unfair because of the situation the Federal government met the financial state of the country. Of course, the President has said he met empty treasury, oil price has gone down, there is need for restructuring, many states are finding it difficult to pay salaries, we are not owing salaries but just deductions. Its really serious when a new government comes into power and what you meet is paying backlog of salaries instead of focusing on things you can do to improve the states as it is in some states now. In our State now, we have a loan that we have applied for specifically meant for infrastructural development. The job of the Assembly in the last few months has been to create the enabling environment for the executive to work.
Q. There have been some uproar against the Governor wanting to get another 10Billion naira Loan, with arguement that the state debt is continually increasing. What's your take on this?
ANS. There is a misconception and exageration about those sayings. When we came in, people were saying Amosun is owing over 100billion, when Federal Government said go and present all your outstanding debt, we presented 48billion, not even all of that is own by Amosun, we actually inherited some, ofcourse we know government is continous, If you do personal assessment of development of infrastructure we have witnessed in the state in the past 4years it worth about 200billion in asset. How can you say the government is amassing debt with 48billion debt and 200billion asset in roads, bridges, schools and many more? Every financial re-engineering that has been going on has been at the instance of Federal Government, its not the quatum of the debt that matters it is the ability to repay and the Federal Government knows the state is healthy in that regard. On this 10billion naira some people do not understand where the money is coming from, what the money will be used for, criteria that has been met in order for you to get the money. It is only five states that met the criteria and we are one of them. One of the criteria is the ability to repay, giving that your allocation is going to be reduced based on your consolation bond and bail out fund. It's again because they new your IGR is going up as we are experiencing in the state, so we are in a very sound economic position to move the state forward.
Q. One of the very many issues raised in the state is the new school being built by the Governor. People have said the school were built at the expense of existing one even some of them at the outskirt of the city.
ANS. The Governor has said it that he's on a mission to rebuild and the administration has what it called Ogun Standard, just like the roads he's building now, he said there must be a minimum of 3-lanes and walk-ways, some of those roads might not meet the requirement of now but definitely in the longrun. If you are going to expand the economy for businesses and investors, you need such roads. For the schools, if you understand the concept of building such schools, building a Housing Estate close to it and building structures that are going to be around in 50years time, then you will know this is not a case of renovating inadequate structures. It is good to renovate, but for somebody who is looking at the future, what you do is to complete the new structures move the student there so that you can renovate the old structures.
Q. Do you think the Governor can complete some of these projects before he leaves?
ANS. Yes he will. Some are completed already and why we are taking this loan again is for some of these infrastructural development. So we are convinced he will complete them.
Q. What are some of the plans you have for people in your constituency apart from legislating for their improvement?
ANS. I think the major thing is to see improvement in their lots, employment, business and vision. I need to put in place programmes that can help farmers, small scale buinesses, cottage businesses and so on. I need to look at small loans, corperatives. My constituency is a mixture of rural and urban, their needs might be a bit differ from people in Abeokuta. In terms of technology, we are looking at Solar lighting for streets to change the face of the community, that is why I said most of the programmes will be community oriented.
Q. If you visualize yourself in politics in the next 10years, where would you like to see yourself?
ANS. I was just thinking of that days back that many of the nominees, where were they 10years ago? I believe none of them would have thoughts of being a Minister by now. In politics, a day, week or year is a very long time. It is only unwise man that will be planning for that. I just want to keep representing my people in any capacity by having direct