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I want to build Africa’s Happiest Place in Nigeria

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I want to build Africa’s Happiest Place in Nigeria

 

  • Private partnership, solution to Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit

 

Biola Lawal, the C.E.O. Ashton & Dave travels and holidays limited, a holiday and Logistics services organization, is a dyed-in-the-wool professional with experience of over 25 years traversing oil and gas, hospitality and tourism. His retail travel company, FlyBoku, was recently rated Best in Nigeria by the Institute of Export and International Trade, United Kingdom. The tourism enthusiast spoke to LANRE ODUKOYA about his professional endeavours, mega plans to curate the Happiest Place on the continent while addressing tourism deficits in Africa and how to turn unsung African treasures to goldmine

 

 

Congratulations for the honour done your company, FlyBoku, as the market leader (Best in Nigeria) by the Institute of Export and International Trade, United Kingdom, how does that feel?

 

Thank you. It feels good and we’re thankful to God. Ultimately, it’s about having a vison guided by global standard after spending 25 years in the US working for some of the best Fortune 500 Companies. These are mostly American and European companies, from Disney, Coca Cola, British Petroleum to Nike, Marriott, Delta Airline among others where I’d worked in different capacities.

 

In what capacities did you work with these companies?

 

The last job I did as an employee was as a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of an oil and gas company. Hospitality and tourism are a passion for me. I started my career in the United States working for Sky West Delta Airline which is a regional airline in the US before going for my master’s degree. I worked for Disney, a leading name in hospitality which is one of the drivers for me when talking about having Badagry as a tourism hub.

 

I think it’s important. I’d done management consultancy and what do you have there? You actually build strategies, review processes, create opportunities for companies to be better in what they’re doing and how they do it- it’s people, process and technology. It’s that technology that took me to SAP, a global technology company where I work in strategy and transformation unit, again working for some of the biggest companies in the world to help transform their companies in terms of strategy, process and technology.

 

So, I gathered a lot of experiences around the world. So, by way of background I came back to Nigeria to become the Chief Strategy Officer for Oando to help them drive a new strategy around a diversified oil and gas conglomerate, an indigenous one for Nigeria. And I think we did so great there. We listed in Nigeria and Johannesburg and we created a lot of value including moving upstream. I also helped to put technology across the operating entities.

 

There’s a technology called Oracle which is basic application and database that we used to streamline and make the company efficient. I was essentially both the Chief Strategy Officer and the Chief Information Officer for Oando for four years.

 

Before you left the shores of Nigeria for studies and work abroad, what was your earliest dream and what was the first course you studied?

 

I studied Economics and Finance at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State and I served in Makurdi, Benue State before I travelled out of the country. First, I spent a short period in Canada in Banking before I proceeded to California in the US, part of which I shared with you earlier when I talked about working with an airline.

 

From Economics and Finance you later found a fresh passion in travel and tourism, at what point did this additional vocation become part of your journey?

 

My mother is a princess from Badagry and it’s a tourism town. I lived with my grandmother until I was 10 years old before she passed away. So, if you go to Badagry you’d know it’s a hospitality and tourism place. So, tourism is in the blood and I wasn’t quite conscious of it when I was younger. When I got to the   United States, in my first job with the Delta Skyways Airlines I got exposed to aviation and tourism there taking pictures and watching different exciting things. After that, MBA, I worked for Disney, a home of tourism and Disneyland is considered the World’s Happiest Place where families can go and experience fun. Here I’m talking of the original Disney where Disney actually started. Most people assume that Disney is all about what they see in Florida or Orlando, no, that’s the secondary Disney. The first Disneyland is in a place called Anaheim in California. It’s in an orange county.

 

Is it as large as the one in Florida?

 

It’s a bit smaller because that was the site where they started from. Disney World came from the concept that one man wanted to build the World’s Happiest Place and the whole pace was just a useless orange grove of trees and he went to conceptualise it and said, why can’t I build the world a happiest place about 70 years ago? Why can’t we build around a vision like that? So, I’m inspired by a great vision and much more that vision, I’m much more impressed by strategy and the ability to execute. In my case, when I worked for Disney, I left that industry and for like 15 years I worked for the oil and Gas industry.

 

I finished a pretty good career because I ended up as the CFO of the first Nigerian listed company on New York Stock Exchange, CAMAC which later became Erin Energy. I got it listed public as a CFO, I then came back to Nigeria. But because the passion for tourism has always been there, I wanted to continue with the passion, so we made some significant investment in FlyBoku.

 

The concept of FlyBoku is tourism and travel helping people to create an experience. If you want to go somewhere whether it’s domestic or international, let’s have a platform that can give you a reliable, accessible and affordable product that’s also fun. Mr. Boku is like the travel doctor that helps you do that, it’s a digital idea. So that’s the reason we created the slogan, “Mr. Boku will take you there and must bring you back.” The idea is if you have Expedia in the US and have OPODO in the UK, we should have something that cuts across sentiments, language and tribe. So, I wanted a Pan-African brand that we can develop give to the rest of the world. That’s what my vision is about.

 

Is FlyBoku a product from ASHTON and DAVE Travel and Hospitality Company?

 

That’s correct. Ashton and Dale was primarily to create an outsource travel and logistics company for corporate bodies. And we started that in 2007 and even while I was away in the US, the company was running here. We then saw over the last five years the impacts of technology and how it’s creating opportunities for individuals to be able to consume services. So, just as you’re able to buy physical things online, you have to be able to buy tourism and travel products. So, FlyBoku was then created as an offshoot of Ashton and Dave Travel and Hospitality Company. They’re separate companies but complementary in terms of offerings.

 

Fly- Boku is offering experiential travel   and tourism. So, we have something called Discover Africa- I think Africa is under-explored in terms of tourism experience and if we don’t sell Africa who is going to sell it for us? We prefer to go to the US and the UK, it’s okay but we must be able to attract the rest of the world to see what we also have in Africa.

 

We cannot start waiting for a perfect time when everything is fixed to start. We must start looking at what is unique to us and we then curate and create tourism products unique to us in Africa around our culture, fashion, food, music and so on. We have some tourism assets already, let’s also create a physical infrastructure, our roads, airports, visa process must all work together to make it easier for people to want to come and experience Nigeria. I was in Kaduna recently, Nigeria is vastly blessed and many must know that so much is in Nigeria and it’s not just about Lagos. I went to a resort centre which had a stable of horses where you can actually go and enjoy what I call ‘staycation’.

 

You could have similar experiences you would get when you go to certain parts of the Caribbean. With the right services, if you want to ride a horse, use the pool, chalets are there and you could have similar experience but we create infrastructure to make it easy for people to get there and experience 5-star, 4-star service as you would find in any part of the world. We need partnerships to be able to achieve this because we cannot wait on the government to do everything. Government should focus on creating an enabling environment, security, basic infrastructure but let the private sector drive tourism products and assets.

 

How much of partnerships and consolidation have you done to ensure that the proposed multibil-  lion dollar Badagry tourism centre comes to fruition and doesn’t end in paper works?

 

Well, those who know me know that we try to focus on execution. In other to execute, you must identify the key building blocks of what you’re trying to do particularly when you’re trying to do something big. I’d tell you we’re in the project planning phase with the partners and it’s premature to discuss a lot of details for obvious reasons. I’m an indigene of Lagos State from Badagry and I am very optimistic that we can create a cornerstone of tourism that not just Nigeria, but the West Coast of Africa and even beyond can come and enjoy as a tourism destination. We’re in very deep conversation with the partners already but the idea is also to ensure that the local community is part of the project early enough.

 

So, that was why we went to meet with the Akran of Badagry. That was a strategic movement to ensure that the communities have a stake in the project because tourism generates a lot of job, income and there’s multiplier effect. One of the things we’re trying to do there is to ensure there’s a cultural centre that will highlight the cultural history of Badagry but beyond, I’m not ready to divulge all in details but there’s a lot we’re working on with the partners on the table. The key thing is ensure that the support is there and in executing, there are no too many roadblocks on our way.

 

Are there legislations from the government likely to impede the success of the planned project?

 

Well, we will cross that bridge when we get there. We will approach the government in due course and tell them this is the project and this is what we need to get support. I don’t like condemning broadly the challenges we have in our society or the government agencies. Many times we have to focus on what the end goal is. When Walt Disney started Disneyland, he started with nothing. It was not about the government but about the conceptualization of ideas and he began to bring partners together. Financing partners, constructing partners, content partners and so on. I’ve worked in that environment and I’m very clear about what we need to do and who to attract to make this a successful project.

 

You’ve been privileged to have worked for different blue chip companies and you own your companies now. In all honesty, which is more financially rewarding between the salary-paying jobs and being an entrepreneur that you have become?

 

I started working for different companies and 25 years later I’m my own boss. I don’t think I can have all the experience I have to float my company and be doing well as I am today if I had not worked for some of the companies in Fortune 500, they’re of global standard you know. What is important is not all about how it rewards in monetary terms but how much fulfillment you find in giving wings to your own dreams. I’m very passionate about youths, I have a youth academy called Boku Academy where I train youths in the nexus of technology, travel and tourism. I try to make them self-employed, so I give them the infrastructure, computers and so on and make them work. So, they’re like their franchise of FlyBoku but they’re working for themselves.

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Arts & Entertainments

BBNaija (S4): Khafi wins N7.6m car

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BBNaija (S4): Khafi wins N7.6m car

ENTERT (pix: Khafi attached)

Housemate, Khafi Kareem has won a 7.6 million Naira IVM Fox car in the ongoing BBNaija season four.

 

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Khafi won the car prize during the ‘Proudly Nigerian’ challenge on Saturday.

 

The challenge, sponsored by Nigerian brand, Innosson Motors, tasked housemates to present their Nigerian stories and highlight the beauty of being Nigerian.

 

During the first round, housemates gave presentations on their Nigerian story, however, Khafi’s excellent and inspiring presentation got viewers emotional.

 

At the end of the first round, housemates were asked to pull ribbons attached to the Innosson car. Those who dropped the ribbons were disqualified.

 

After some housemates were distracted by pizza and noise, Khafi, Mercy, Cindy and Jackye were the last ones standing.

 

 

The other women eventually dropped their ribbon, leaving Khafi to win the coveted prize.

 

Reacting to her win, Khafi said she loved the red colour and the car would be her first.

 

Fans have taken to social media to congratulate her and pass remarks about her moving speech.

 

@Juliet_ said, “Congrats Khafi, a win well deserved. Proudly Nigerian indeed.”

 

@Miracle tweeted, “She was the first that entered into that car and blow the horn of the car, she had one of the best speech, she is the deserving winner, kudus baby girl, I am happy u won.”

 

@Tessyme said, “She waz Determined from start.. And thanked God for her first car even before wining it. Am happy for her.”

 

@Chanty4 said, “Salute to the Nigerian spirit. Salute to Khafi. Congratulations to the last four. #BBNaijia #BBNaijaPepperDem.”

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Mayor of Cincinnati honour, very humbling for me – Adewale

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Mayor of Cincinnati honour, very humbling for me – Adewale

Award winning Nigerian artist and a Young African Leader, Kunle Adewale, was earlier in the month honoured in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. A graduate of Fine Art, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Adewale is the founder of Tender Arts Nigeria, a non-profit that positively impacts children, youth and adults with a focus on therapeutic art programs, art education, talent development and community development. The Mayor of Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley, proclaimed August 2, 2019 “Kunle Adewale Day” in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

He was honoured for his efforts as a trailblazing artist in the arts in medicine field and as the first International Artist in Residence of the Eyes of the Artists Foundation based in the city. For Adewale, who has extensive expertise in Arts in Healing, “being recognised and having August 2 proclaimed ‘Kunle Adewale Day’ is a demonstration of my passion for development work, servant leadership, continuous intercontinental partnership with diplomatic missions, global art institutions, professional arts in health organizations and my civic engagements through the arts.” ‘Kunle Adewale Day’ is dedicated to service to humanity through creative engagements in communities across Cincinnati, Ohio and Nigeria. According to him, a day like this is a reminder

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Ex-beauty queen, Stephanie Cole, delves into fashion

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Ex-beauty queen, Stephanie Cole, delves into fashion

Ex Nigerian beauty queen, Stephanie Cole, has added yet another niche to her towering brand as she recently delved into the fashion business. ‘DVNX FIT Limited’, a unisex fashion brand, that caters to all body sizes and shapes. The graduate of International Studies and Diplomacy from the University of Benin revealed that her love for fashion and the quest to always appear dapper inspired her to own a fashion brand.

She said: “One unique thing that set us apart is the fact that we cater all body sizes as this is not usually common in a typical Nigeria fashion brand where they only provide outfits for the slim body type leaving out the curvy ones’ with DVNX Fit limited, we appreciate all body types and the more reason why our clientele are both sexes.”

Speaking about life as a beauty queen, Stephanie noted that in 2011, she won the Sisi Oge Cultural Beauty Pageantry after which she contested for the Face of the World Nigeria in 2014 and emerged winner. She represented Nigeria at the Face of the World International, Birmingham, UK and emerged winner as well. Recounting her story to stardom, she said; “Life as a beauty queen has not been all rosy at times; there were challenging moments, which I never allowed to slow me down and they were moments I felt like I still wanted to do more pet projects that these beauty pageant platforms had bestowed upon me. For instance, it was as a result of one of my pet projects that I established my first business, Divanexie Signatures’ in 2012, an interior decoration and general supplies company.”

Interestingly, Stephanie is an actor, commercial model, AutoCAD & Archicad professional and one of the brains behind a non-governmental organisation; Women for Leadership and Development Initiative- a movement meant to help in reducing women vulnerability and dependency in all spheres of life, to motivate and develop women by promoting their participation in all areas and sectors, to build stronger economies, improve their quality of life and bring gender equality with equal amount of opportunities.

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My movie, You and I, almost sent me to early grave –Saheed Balogun

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My movie, You and I, almost sent me to early grave –Saheed Balogun

Ace actor and filmmaker, Saheed Balogun, remains an interviewers’ delight any day. The respected thespian in this interview with LANRE ODUKOYA addressed nagging issues plaguing the movie industry, rested the age-long feud between him and his ex-wife, Faithia Williams and recounted how piracy almost cost him his life.

 

 

Congratulations will be in order for a thespian like you who has been around for over three decades, what has been staying power?

In all honesty, there’s absolutely nothing keeping me but God. It’s the God factor and this glory isn’t one I can share. He gives me inspiration all the time and He abides with me through every assignment commissioned.

 

At some point you became a trendsetter; you were the first person to produce a two-member cast movie; you produced all Caucasian movie which starred only you as the black in the project and a few other novel ideas that people celebrated. What happened to your trend-setting agendum?

The all Caucasian movie you spoke about was titled ‘You or I’ and it was after that project that I decided to take a break as I was no longer sure of where the industry was heading. I cannot live fake life to impress anyone. It doesn’t make sense for me to make N50million and start creating the impression with people that I’ve made N500million. I’m just taking a deserved break for a little longer before I know my next move.

How was the experience commercially?

That movie was the project that set me back terribly. After spending millions touring four countries, spending money, traveling with a crew and so on, it got pirated. That experience almost sent me to early grave because my account was empty, I was almost running mad because there was nobody to help. So, after that, I decided to take everything easy.

How did you waltz out of that despair?

It’s God in capital letters. It’s only because He said, “son, you still have a mission” and I said okay, ‘you’re not a man that you should lie.’

Are you working on any movie project at all?

Yes, I’m working on a small movie now titled ‘White.’ The movie just basically tells you that whatever you teach your children is a lead and may save you in the future.

You no longer feature in most commercial movies unlike before. Is there a drought of scripts coming your way?

On the contrary, the scripts are coming and I check them, it’s just that we tell the same story in 15 ways. Well, I may start considering some scripts and give them a shot. But you see I’m not comfortable with repeating the same thing and I see new guys coming up too. So, I said let me take a little break and see what these guys have got.

Nobody can tell Saheed Balogun’s story like you’d do yourself; how did you feel the first time ever that you’d appear before the camera?

Was it a feeling of excitement, did you fidget- what really was the experience like? I remember very well how the passion was all over me and I almost overacted. That’s more than 30 years. It was all TV series then in Lagos and back in Ilorin. There were no home videos then. with the advent of home videos, I did Ori Apere, City Girls, Omo Daddy and many others. But I was like a lion then always ready to roar.

 

Is there a time you can really call a career-defining moment in your foray into professional acting?

I’d alw a y s give i t t rin where everybody knew me as Mallam Mai Suya. I was on TV and I kept thanking God, but I was looking for the national attention then. I came to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Hajia Hawau was the writer of Winds of Destiny and they were doing marathon auditions. I came for the first to the fourth round of audition. Ahmed Adio just held my hand said let’s go. The guy who was doing the auditions kept saying there were too many people here, but Adio insisted that even if it was one scene, they should give me and they would never regret. So, the way I did just that one episode got the attention of the Director General of NTA who asked how come you assigned this guy to just one episode? The role was so brief that it was about 55 seconds. In the play, they were supposed to give me a wife but they didn’t. I came in, threw my lines to everybody and angrily left. The man was highly impressed at the dexterity of my acting and he exclaimed- who is this guy who spat this fire and you said he appeared only in one scene? No way! So, the guy who was supposed to play Mallam Buka was in Jos and had become too busy, they were to shoot second episode, they waited for him because they were to shoot on Sunday, he didn’t come on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Dan Emene just said, let’s give this guy a trial; can you play Mallam Buka? I answered in the affirmative. They just gave me the turban, Dan Emene, then left and was at one corner thinking of what to do, he then heard the voice of a guy and said, okay, maybe Saheed shouldn’t do the role, the guy who spoke just now should be allowed to try it. They said no, the voice was Mr. Saheed’s. He said the same Saheed? We have a cast already. And that was how I made the first national limelight because everybody was always waiting for my part every Sunday.

 

Could you recall any experience when you wished you were never an actor?

After enjoying the glitz of limelight, there was a day we had a little argument and I opened a newspaper and saw that I had been written about as a woman beater. They said I fought and beat the lady in question on Sunday. It was the same lady that was alleged to have been beaten that found the paper and brought it to me. She said your friend wrote this about us? And people started calling from right, left and centre. I was shocked and embarrassed. It was there and then the same lady and I went about explaining to people that what was reported about us never happened. At a point, I parked my car at a junction and asked myself- can I at least look for another job to do apart from acting? I looked at the paper then and what I saw about myself was the first man to produce the first two-cast movie in Africa, the first to do all-Ankara wearing movie and so on. Is this how I’m going to be celebrated? I felt like quitting. It was then that the late Adunni Bankole and Remi Adiukwu-Bakare sat me down and told me, ‘son, in life there’s always a storm, the ability to weather it and not chicken out is what makes you a man. Are you a man or a woman?’ I said I was a man and they said, then you have to get going. They asked me what my next project was and I responded that I was going to do an all Caucasian movie where I would be the only black character and they gave me the encouragement to go ahead

Social media does almost in equal measure, good and bad, to those who throw up their all on the platform. What’s your take posting all one’s achievements on the social media platforms?

I’m just going to advise that people should be very careful because 40 years after, internet will never forget. It will bring history back. So, we should be what we say to promote ourselves. I also go once in a while to the social media to do stuffs, but these days, it’s sad that it’s killing the creativity of youths. Many of them waste time there doing nothing really profitable. Social media is fun but it can also be the highest form of distraction. If you see the white man, he can use a phone for five years, it’s mostly black people that keep changing phones now and again. The seriously developing countries trying to get away from the third world countries first ban all these distractions because they’re striving to meet the super world powers. In North Korea, you don’t even mess around there as small as they are. That’s why they are mighty. It’s a total distraction and it’s affecting our youths adversely. You’d even see some of our musicians messing up the whole place with bad music they churn out.

 

For the first time in a long time, you and your ex-wife, Faithia Williams, agreed to act together even as a couple in a movie. Many had thought since your marital squabbles were unresolved you would never even see eyeball to eyeball. Are you back as husband and wife?

We have settled, we shot a movie, please move to the next question.

The next question is that are you back as husband and wife after the long fight?

I insist that I don’t want any family related questions. Move or we’d stop the interview. I have a son, we have children that are reading, it’s my private life. Next question please. If you ask family question I’d stand up from here.

Okay, let’s discuss your movie project… Fantastic!

I have about three to four street movies, but these days I want to call myself to order on the street thing, because there’s a lot of things going on in the society. The current one I’m doing is titled ‘White’ and I want to do another one that will be titled ‘Whose Fault’. This revolution we’re screaming shouldn’t happen after the election. Like the movie I’m doing, ‘Whose Fault,’ my idea of revolution there is; ‘don’t collect rice, money or anything at all from politicians before voting them into power’. If you want to contest, we should ask you where you are coming from, why do you want to contest, what do you have to offer?’ Once we hear your story and see you can’t really solve the problems you meet on ground, we’d kick. And if we vote you into power and you start messing up, we’d revolt again. People collected so much from politicians and the wrong people got elected into office. I can’t start crying over spilt milk. In the movie, the message is for the society. I did one movie titled ‘Scourge,’ the story was to discourage our youths from drug abuse. We should begin to find ways forward for our dear nation, we have nowhere else to call home.

Well, one would think because of the monumental loss you suffered after your movie was pirated, by now you should consider the commercial viability of any other work you do…

Since people have been in that National Assembly, what bills have they passed to prevent piracy and protect the movie industry? Tourism and cultural exchange can fetch us a lot more than oil and gas. They say that in 2040, we’d move away from oil and will start using alternative power, where is the structure we have to ensure that happens here in Nigeria? But you’ve had a few colleagues in the state and national assemblies. You’ve had Rotimi Makinde in the House of Representatives; couldn’t he have lent a voice? Structuring of the entertainment industry has got to happen at the federal level. But Rotimi Makinde was in the committee for petroleum. If you are not in a committee that oversees a particular segment you can hardly influence anything. You can only suggest and if you talk too much they’d ask you to mind what your committee is saddled with. He tried, but a tree cannot make a forest. This man came and screamed to us, he gave us names and he was the first person to come and tell us, stop marching in your states. These are not state laws, we’re waiting for you in Abuja. But the people who were challenged to do the march, did we go? We’re here waiting for one Jesus to come and solve our problem.

 

If you were not an actor, what else do you think you would have done successfully in life?

I would have been a preacher of God’s words.

As a Christian or a Muslim?

I can be anyone propagating the gospel of God Almighty.

As a Christian or a Muslim?

I can be anyone propagating the gospel of God Almighty.

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I’VE BEEN LUCKY BUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT EXISTS IN NOLLYWOOD –ENO UDO

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I’VE BEEN LUCKY BUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT EXISTS IN NOLLYWOOD –ENO UDO

Nollywood actress, Eno Udo, has been in the Nigerian movie industry for more than a decade. Boasting beauty, talent and tenacity, the Akwa Ibom State indigene spoke to ADEDAYO ODULAJA on issues in the make-believe industry and how she plans to navigate her way in the industry.

 

Apart from being an actress, do you do anything else like many of your colleagues?

Yes. I am also an event planner and caterer and I guess being involved in running other businesses as such make me a businesswoman.

How are you able to manage the tasking job of acting which could take you away for days and weeks at times?

Everything has to be scheduled, once I have a job, I tried to adjust to it. I have my team, if I have a job I may ask one of my team members to go. I may not go for other things apart acting, so I don’t work alone I have workers that work with me, so they will attend to others thing I could not attend to, but if it is the same thing I can do at the same time then I will do it

Apart from Family Ties and Tears of a Mother, which other movies have you acted in due to your ability to act in both Yoruba and English movies?

I have been acting in English movies for about a decade and half now. I have acted in drama series referred to as soaps such as Death Warrant, Family Ties, Moments and Life’s Secrets. I have also acted in movies like Dignity, Tears of a Mother of course and others that are not out yet. I am going into the Yoruba movie sector now and I have a Yoruba movie I am going to shoot very soon, which will be my first. The movie is also billed to feature a number of big names including actors like Antar Laniyan and some others whose names I cannot mention for now. The director that is going to work on the project, Oscar, is a popular figure known for having directed Funke Akindele’s movies. I was impressed with what I saw of him, the way he directs and his works, so, I see him as a very good director. The location will be right here in Lagos. So, I am looking forward to it all with excitement.

This means you have not acted in any Yoruba before right?

I have not, but I have acted with some of the Yoruba actors many times, like Yemi Fash-Lanso, Oga Bello, Eniola Badmus, Sukanmi Omobolanle, the son of Pappy Luwe. I have acted with all the popular actors in Adebayo family except Femi Adebayo. I have worked with Yewande Adekoya when she was acting in English movies before she switched to Yoruba movies. I started acting in 2006 with the likes of Damola Olatunji.

In terms of taking it beyond being a hubby, when precisely did you start acting?

I started professionally when I was in secondary school, precisely in SS2. It was very challenging for me, that was the year 2000, but I joined Yoruba sector in 2006. This is how I started but I had to go to Ilorin for my tertiary education. By the time I came back after my OND and HND in Business Administration, things have changed a lot but now I am back fully. So I started writing scripts in primary six but that was on an amateur level. We wanted to have a performance for a graduating set and I came up with a script and the entire school loved it. The headteacher later called my class teacher to commend who in turn told her I wrote the script and it started from there.

 

What’s the story behind your fluency in Yoruba although you are from Akwa Ibom?

There is no big deal about that; I was born and bred in Lagos and that has helped me in my career.

Could you mention some of the individuals you look up to in the industry?

I like originality, kudos to the ogas at the top and of course Aunty Joke Silva. She is one person I have always prayed to work with, let me say she is a very natural actress and when it comes to originality, she is there. Ayo Mogaji is another actress I look up to and I will also like to act alongside her. When it comes to producers, I will love to work with Emem Isong, not because she is from Akwa Ibom but because her movies are good and they speak for themselves. I like her originality. In the Yoruba movie setting, Odunlade Adekola is famous for being original and we can’t but talk about Jide Kosoko, Anta Laniyan and others.

How do you see the industry and what plans do you have to crack the top?

The industry is very tough as you know, and I think in Nigeria we don’t respect people according to their talents. It is only when a producer knows you, that is when you can be given a role or thereabout but I am trying to bring my best in all the jobs I do and I pray and hope that somebody will see me for that. I am trying to work with producers that are talented that are well known in the industry that when I work with them once or twice I can be sighted. For now I don’t bring money to what I do, not that I don’t like money but because I want my hard work to speak for me so when they call me for location I don’t care how much they will pay, I dash off immediately because I know when I get to the top , it will all balance out.

Would you say the sex-for-roles issue still happens in Nollywood or not?

The truth is that it happens, I have to be very sincere. Some producers will demand your body or sleep with you before they will even give you a role but in some cases it is not. The truth about it is that everybody has matured. They might give you a role but as an adult then come for you for a date so it is left for you to either accept or reject. But some are stubborn, if you tell them no, that is where your career will end. On my own part, I have been fortunate to meet female producers. After I completed my Higher National Diploma, I came back to Lagos, the producers I have been meeting have been so pleasant, including my present producer. I have done more than twenty scenes with him and he has never acted towards that. It also depends on how you present yourself, if you look desperate and let them believe you have what you want to give to them as in your body they will collect it from you, but when you go to them and let them know you have this talent. But some of them want to be a star but they don’t have the talent, but when you have the talent, the charisma even the producer will not allow you to go because they knew you can be a brand for them.

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Phyno, Kcee, Onyeka Onwenu mesmerize fans at Hi-Life Fest finale

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Phyno, Kcee, Onyeka Onwenu mesmerize fans at Hi-Life Fest finale

Three of Nigeria’s biggest entertainers namely; Onyeka Onwenu, Phyno and KCee, graced the finale of Hi-Life Fest 2019, days ago. After three months of sensational music performances across South-East Nigeria, Hi-Life Fest finally reached an epic crescendo last Sunday. All the four finalists brought their A-game on to stake their claim on the grand prize. Frank Onyeka, Chimaroke Chimex, Chijioke Charles, and Umunnukwe Nwanja are some of the most talented budding highlife talents in Nigeria and it was a stunning showpiece, watching the guys literally locking horns to carry the day.

The night was full of sensational performances by the contestants as well as the guest artistes, which included veteran singer – Onyeka Onwenu, the Limpopo master – KCEE, and indigenous rapper and brand ambassador – Phyno.

These superstars were not the only artistes to grace the stage as the previous winners of Hi-Life Fest took the stage to delight the guests in attendance. Chibest David and Dons Ifeanyi provided the perfect precedent for the night as their performances reminded all in attendance of the immense talent of these young Highlife musicians. Kicking off the guest performances on the night was KCEE. The mesmeric singer showed just why he is a fans’ favourite in the East with some impeccable stagecraft.

Following up his performance was veteran singer, Onyeka Onwenu. Onyeka once again proved her legendary status with a performance, which was full of zest and some sultry singing. It was truly a sight to behold.

Wrapping up the night was Phyno. The multitalented rapper rounded off the night with a track-list of all his chart-topping singles. His performance was practically a sing-along with the fans, as both he and the guests in attendance had the time of their lives during his powerful performances. While all the side-attractions were quite remarkable, the night belonged to the winners in both the dance and music category. Ofu Obi dance troupe walked home with N2 million, while Chijioke Charles earned the mouth-watering sum of N5 million.

It remains impossible to imagine a more exciting conclusion to the 2019 edition of Hi-Life Fest while it will be exciting to see how the talents, which have emerged from this platform continue to further their crafts and become remarkable stars.

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Toyin Lawani again! Vows to marry three men at 40

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Toyin Lawani again! Vows to marry three men at 40

Brazen celebrity clothier, Toyin Lawani, who set the internet on fire weeks ago has been in the news again, and expectedly so, for the weird reason. The sassy queen of the glam has questioned why men are free to marry more than one wife but society frowns on women doing same.

In a recent post shared on Instagram, the mother of two promised that she would marry three men at once when she clocks 40. Toyin, who is known to always speak her mind, stated that she will build different houses for her three husbands and choose who will share her bed each night. She has since set tongues wagging with her post on practicing polyandry, alien to the black race.

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BBNaija’s Alex parts ways with management team

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BBNaija’s Alex parts ways with management team

A finalist of the Big Brother Naija 2018, Alex, said that she had parted ways with Naoma da Agency, the team that has been managing her brand for a while. In a post on Instagram, Alex said she would no longer be represented by the agency owned by a socialite known as Naomi The Boss.

“All bookings and inquiries about ALEX UNUSUAL henceforth should kindly be directed to the contact details in my bio as @naomadagency and it’s representatives are no longer my management team,” Alex, who was romantically linked with then fellow housemate, Tobi, wrote.

Her ties with Tobi was the reason Alex faced hostility from Cee- C during their time in the house, with Cee-C later revealing that she had wanted Tobi, who featured in Kunle Afolayan’s latest movie titled: Mokalik, all to herself.

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Wearetobeknownas DaddyandMummy Ire–ToyinAbraham

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Wearetobeknownas DaddyandMummy Ire–ToyinAbraham

A week after the birth of her son was announced, Nollywood actress, Toyin Abraham, has announced the name the baby boy will be called. In an Instagram post on Thursday, the controversial actress formerly married to fellow actor, Adeniyi Johnson, disclosed that her son would be called Ire.

“We are super grateful for the love, care and gifts we have gotten since the arrival of our baby, IRE. The love has been surreal, the care has been enormous and the gifts keep coming. I pray that God will reward us all for all you did for us. He will pay you all back for the love care and gifts. We will all continue to rejoice for the rest of the Year.

DADDY AND MUMMY IRE,” she wrote. Toyin A and her new husband, Kolawole Ajeyemi, who is also an actor, who welcomed the bundle of joy Wednesday last week, added that the naming ceremony of their baby would be held in London later in the days ahead.

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Davido revels in performing at 50 Cent’s double events in US

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Davido revels in performing at 50 Cent’s double events in US

As a follow up to some of his posts urging people to keep their dreams alive, Nigerian music superstar, Davido, has stated his belief that dreams come true when they are not allowed to die. On Wednesday, the 26-year-old boss of music imprint, Davido Music Worldwide, took to social media with the message:

“Dreams do come true for real!!!!!” And in another video post hours after performing at the premiere of the 50 Cent-produced hit TV series, Power, at Madison Square Garden, New York, Davido had joked that 44-year-old rapper and actor, 50 Cent, owes him some money, writing: “Tell @50cent he owe (sic) me money. !!!!! Love big bro! And congrats on the new season of POWER!!! Over the weekend, Davido had performed at the Tycoon Pool Party hosted by 50 Cent in New Jersey, thrilling the audience which included music heavyweights such as: Trey Songz, Fabolous, Snoop Dogg, Camila, Don Q, Jacquees, YFN Lucci, and Jacques with hit songs like “If” and “Fall”.

Davido, whose recent collaboration with American music star, Chris Brown, has garnered a whopping 10milion views in just three weeks after release, first met the New York rapper a few years ago. Since then, they have been pictured together at least three different times.

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