By Oreofe Williams
Apart from the winner of the popular reality show (Big Brother Naija) becoming the talk of the town, the trending headline about Governor Dapo Abiodun awarding five million naira and a three-bedroom bungalow to the 27- year old star, Laycon, has become news on everyone’s lips.
As I read the news about Laycon’s win and the merit he received from the Governor, I discussed with a National Leader and expressed my worries about the gradual obliteration of values. However, as an intellectual, one should not see things from ONE point of view; diverse perspectives serve as a vista of utmost exposure to core knowledge and personal credo.
Statistics has it that he (Laycon) won by 60% of votes totalling 900 million. Despite my passion for mentorship and contributions towards youth development in Nigeria, it has not yet been possible for Oreofe Williams to attract almost a billion votes. Not even the President of our dear country got such in the last election. Suffice me to say there is no political leader under heaven that won’t see such a man as an asset. This is as a result of his echt value among young people and possible influence (either for mobilization or campaign). It is a natural quid pro quo.
We work 24/7 at the City of Talents and I have never for once patronized the show. None of my mentees did. We only saw updates on the social media. This is because of our level of daily engagements. We shoot films, record musical videos, train young actors, editors, cinematographers, scriptwriters etc and guide youths in their various fields and craft. An engaging youth won’t have the time to sit in the front of a TV cheering up housemates. Are they to blame? I don’t think so. A young fellow who is dutifully engaged is not likely to give the best of his time towards a TV show.
Nevertheless, the gift from the Governor is an ad hoc – where he isn’t rewarding Laycon but himself. It is a game of the politics of numbers. This is what any politician would do. We all, as humans, desire to have influential people around us – people who would help, in a way or the other, achieve our ambitions and goals. You may not like this but the truth is a word from Laycon today would effortlessly penetrate the hearts of several millions of young people. That I am not one of them may not count.
I quite understand why respectable elders and veterans in various fields condemned the act. I appreciate their anger and the voices raised against a Governor who chose to reward what he saw fit. This, however, is merely a spontaneous exhaustion of emotions – to simply put, with due respect, an ensemble of misplaced anger.
The disapprobation which is being channeled with full energy now should have been directed right at the genesis of the reality show. As the show was being birthed, the critics today should have dissociated themselves openly from it, expressing full disapproval through press conferences or their various social media platforms.
What you are saying now is significant but late. The show, which gained general acceptance at the speed of light, exposes the state of our society. It betrays the idleness of Nigerian youths and the vitiating condition of our country.
In a country that places little value on graduates, an average alumnus or alumna is searching for ways to survive. Laycon (for instance) graduated with Second Class Upper Division at the University of Lagos before opting for the show – probably seeing it as a means of livelihood.
University products, today, are getting off the hooks of books and are finding stretching themselves to find their name and fame. Again, are they to blame? I don’t think so. PhD holders have nothing doing and they wouldn’t even mind taking jobs as truck drivers anywhere monthly salaries can secure their monthly salads.
An apparent question is this: How many leaders are interested in encouraging younger ones? How many recommend unknown talents? How many have used their very strong connections to take to a new height a struggling individual?
During the period of lockdown, I have trained over 2000 people online in the arts of filmmaking. When the lockdown was eased, I engaged youths at our film village in Ibadan, exposing them to the art and science of filmmaking – feeding them for free. I, Oreofe Williams, am an indigene of Ogun state but who will recommend people like us and several others out there striving to impact our Nation? How many have recommended us to authorities that would aid our development among those who claim to appreciate what we do?
I have been raising and mentoring talented individuals towards achieving their goals and vision. How many of these critics have been able to breath some air of encouragement on our heated brains. I know very few.
Please leave my Governor alone. There are too many ‘Laycons’ around us with University degrees and without jobs. While it is true that the essential goal of government should be the creation of employment opportunities, youth empowerment programmes, business-oriented villages and vocational markets that will encourage youths, direct them towards positive thinking and total utilization of their talents, we must exonerate a politician who feels awarding an indigenous celebrity would lure him into the hearts of many youths. Are you not aware that young people practically campaigned; distributing gifts in Lagos and Abeokuta just to ensure Laycon wins?
The young man must be left to enjoy and the Governor should be pardoned. I am indeed sure that days are coming in Nigeria when trivialities would no longer be sold in our markets; days those who raised standards and had no recognition will be begged to occupy the intellectual vacuum that had taken Nigeria through the path of comatose.
Has it not begun? No matter how much the University education has been demarketted, A Professor is the Vice-President today and another Professor is the Chief of Staff. Those days are here when PhD holders and Professors would not be caged within the corners of a University; days when the real big brothers would be those who have put up legacies money can’t buy.
OREOFE WILLIAMS is an actor, author and mentor to thousands of young people across the globe.