Can we meet you?
Yes, you can. I’m the youngest of my mother’s foetal delivery. While my ancestral home is Ibadan, Ibadan Northwest LGA precisely, I had my entire lifespan — save my stay in the Ivory Tower — in Lagos.
I attended Command Children’s School, Ikeja. Proceeding to Junior Secondary School, I was enrolled in Great Anchor Secondary School, Agbede, Ikorodu. Coming from a sterling Junior Secondary School record of topping the class all through, I chose the sciences when I got admitted into Inglewood Academy, Ikorodu, for my Senior Secondary School education. Though, I struggled in class because science wasn’t just it for me. But then I was still among the top dogs; I never ranked below the top 7. I graduated in 2010 as the Laboratory Prefect.
In the early days of SSS education, I enrolled in a modrasah (Islamic school) in Ikorodu where we live. There, I learned to the read the Qur’an, read and write Arabic texts, and communicate in the language. Although, I’m becoming to drop in terms of my grasp of the language but I hope to brush it up during my Service year. My stint here lasted till I gained admission in 2013.
My admission was to study Statistics at the Federal School of Statistics, Ibadan. Here, I graduated with a CGPA of 3.83 of 4. It was from there I made my way into the University of Ibadan through Direct Entry to study same Statistics. Thank you.
What was growing up like for you?
Born in the year Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president, I grew up in Shomolu, Lagos. I grew up like every other kid. Growing up was accompanied by a great deal of parental monitoring and cautioning — especially maternal. This has helped and still helps me.
I grew up liking to read newspapers since I couldn’t afford to buy books. As a secondary school student, I would pump my transport fare into buying Complete Sport Newspaper (N20 at that time), then I’d trek home. I can’t exactly remember if I had a curious mind as a kid but it is fresh in my head that I loved learning new things and teaching my friends who cared.
On a fateful day, a classmate of mine (Seyi Makinde; think not of Oyo state PDP gubernatorial flagbearer), who, at least by my classmates’ judgment, is almost at par with me in terms of knowledge of sports, boasted that he could reel out the names and frequencies of all radio stations in Lagos. He did — in record time! I was challenged. Since then I became an ardent listener to the radio myself. In no time I could do what he did. But doing so offered me something more.
I began to like what broadcasters do, and I believed I could, if given the platform, do what they were doing even at a young age of no experience. And whilst my consistency at reading newspapers had grown momentum, I had gradually became drawn into liking the works done by sport writers. These surges formed a unit and became what define what I now do. At that time I was about graduating from secondary school so the only place where my belief could be practised is in the university. And here I’m. Thank you.
Can you tell us 7 things most people don’t know about you?
Well…7 things. In no exact order. One: I love cats. Two: This is my first interview (of this kind), ever; so I appreciate this opportunity you availed me. Three: I know virtually all the countries of the world, their capitals and their currencies; the major book I grew up studying was the Atlas — I studied it over and over for years. Four: I seldom watch football matches but I comfortably have intellectual romance on it with people due to my residual knowledge in what I’ve read and listening to radio programmes. Five: Though I had had voice communications and pictorial sight of him before then, my retina never saw my dad in person until I was 20. Six: I never used the internet until 2013. Seven:In the entirety of my stint of five years in tertiary institutions, I’ve never bought a book or pen… thanks to my dad who had bought enough stationery that would suffice me till I graduate even before I had an admission.Thank you.
What’s your biggest inspiration for writing?
Winning the Pulitzer Award which is the most prestigious Journalism award in the world is a big aspiration I nurture. Only one Nigerian is known to have won it: Dele Olojede. I believe I can give Nigeria a second coronation.
The Nobel Prize for Literature has been another aspiration for me right from childhood. That aspiration has since then solidified.
How was it like for you, being a Courtroom Scribe cum investigative Journalist cum satirist cum storyteller? How have you been able to balance all these with your academics?
For me, a major trait that has kept body and soul together in this journey has been pursuing what makes me happy. I must admit, I devoted the largest slice of my time to Campus Journalism because I know my future is locked in Journalism. But then, I jump out of it once in a while to give my academics some cuddling. This came with a prize, either ways, nonetheless.
Personally, I chose to do this because it is the style that works for me and makes me happy. These two results are what I can’t trade for anything.
What matters for individuals is for them to identify what works for them, and stick to it. Having an independent mind is what I call it. In life, one has to make bold choices and be willing to stick their necks out even if the decision goes bad.
Of course, there are times I feel rattled when I see classmates whose attention to their academics is what we call in local parlance “jacko”. However, the rallying point which restores my confidence is: taking responsibility for my decisions. And I believe no one should be conditioned to fit into the lifeplan of another. If you can’t go all out then don’t go at all.
Also, I have friends who understand what I do and like doing. They are those who bring the chips up when the chips are down.
Ultimately, I have a family circle that is amazing. My mum would at times spot story ideas for me. In days when I did poorly in school, the least I get was rebuke; this has made me always want to go a notch higher in the things I do because it built my self-belief.
My siblings always trust what I do, and always believe in what I can do. In times when I feel I can’t do such things, the motivation I get makes me think otherwise. Those have been the driving forces thus far and the nozzle that fuels my strides. Thank you.
How did it feel to have been announced as the winner of the best Campus Journalist category in the Tell! Awards?
It was one of my high moments in the outgone year. It felt fulfilling. Pitched on the same pedestal with great campus journalists for an award wouldn’t be a stroll in the park. Knowing the voting mass I was able to acquire was inferior to other nominees told me nothing than any chance I might have had from start had been lost into the air. So I wasn’t expecting it.
But when I got the news of my win, it took me time to conceive. Upon deeper enquiry, I discovered that winners emerged based on some criteria other than votes. I respect the verdict of the judges and I appreciate the award. It is an indication that I’m doing something the judges see as brilliant. It’s an eye-opener for me and a spur to do more. And more I shall! Thank you.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
By 2024, I hope to have got the ground running in Mainstream Journalism, built a wall of integrity around my name and written great stories that would have had impact on the civility of the Nigerian society.
Certain skills are missing in my ability sets, I hope, over this run of time, to have added their feathers to my cap of ability. Within the same time span, also, I see myself to have tightened my nuptial knot. Every other thing that happens would just be treated by me as life unloading the content of its Pandora’s Box. Thank you.
Thank you for your time. Any final remarks/inspirational quotes for the youths who look up to you?
I said in a recent facilitation I had with the new inductees during this year’s induction of Courtroom Scribes that: Hardwork – though a hard work – pays. Consistency is the ATM to cash out that “pay”. I’d reiterate this here too. I’m not aware of any fit-for-all path to success. But I’m aware successful people have two things in common: discipline and consistency.
Let them know that wanting is not getting. You have to work hard to get what you want. Call that cliché but it is the truth. One of the portion of the lessons I had in my Arabic school comes to mind at this point. Knowledge acquisition and, by extension, success are like the upward flow of a river to the mountaintop. This tells us that success doesn’t come to those who want it but those who dare to beat the odds. Thank you.
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