By Esther Onyegbula
Looking at the man he had become, not many would believe that Adebola Williams, currently surrounded with so much paparazzi, has had his own fair share of sufferings, rough times and challenges. But like gold, he refined himself into a fine gentleman filled with uncommon potentials. He is one of the founders of the Future Awards, a platform that celebrates young entrepreneurs, innovative skills and uncommon talent.
He is currently the Operation Director of Easily, the voice of RedSTRAT. He has continually set new standards with the rave TV show, Nigeria International, which shows on the NTA Network, AIT International, STV, MBI, and Ben TV. He left the employ of the show mid-2007 to concentrate full time on RedSTRAT, retaining a position as Consultant Producer.
He also proved his mettle this year as Consultant Producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, and Consultant Producer with Lifestyles in Africa with Mnet. Adebola was a Human Resource Consultant with the Close-Up Salsa Challenge, as well as Consultant Partner with testify Music, being one of the key organizers of the Naija Facebook Carnival, as well as working briefly with The Apprentice Africa in Publicity. He is presently a Producer with the Amstel Malta Box Office reality TV show. In this interview, he takes us into his world, from the very beginning and the transformation so far.
I know you were born into a wealthy home but how were you able to become what you are today?
I was born into wealth but before I was nine, everything was lost, and that is the most difficult situation to be. If you were born in a particular state, you would be used to it, but if you were born in a particular state and it reversed to the worst, it will be difficult to adjust. If I was born in a one bedroom apartment, I already know the drill, but being born into wealth, adjusting wasn’t easy.
So at that point what did you do to survive?
At that point,I knew I had to survive, because at an early age, I realized that my life is my life and that if it got messed up, it was my life. So I made a conscious effort to make it better. When I was 14 years old, I moved from one set to the other like: Sony Macdon set in Oduduwa seeking for roles because I had always wanted to be an actor. I got two roles in two soaps that never came out. It was at that point I decided to quit.
I have been into stage acting too. I was paid N100. All my life, I have always wanted to be an actor. So at the age of fifteen, I started working with a counselor and psychologist as his assistant without any qualification and pay. I learnt to channel my interpersonal skills at a young age towards relating with people to my advantage. Before then, I worked with NTA for three years. It was after a year that they started paying. But I had gained so much experience and all that experience finally paid off at the right time.
So when did you have your breakthrough?
My CV before that time was filled with work experience on volunteering. From there, the jobs started coming. I got a job with Economic Watch, as a producer and I was reporting a business show, doing things people my age were not doing and earning far beyond what obtained in the industry at that time. From there, I got another job. The economy talk show afforded me the opportunity to travel outside telling Nigerian stories to the world: I was also traveling within Nigeria telling people of the development in different parts of the country. I went out of my way to places that I knew would impact my life, and the four years I spent working with the counselor and NTA, were my formative years that enabled me build a solid foundation of good will.
Do successful people don’t share their stories? Do young people have the right lessons they need to succeed?
I believe that because most successful people in Nigeria don’t tell their story, young people don’t know how they became successful. So young people cannot pick the right lessons. How inspiring can that be for youths to realize that if you stay in one place, work hard, be committed and consistent, you would get to the top someday and there is a future for you. A lot of Nigerian youths wish to be something, but they don’t have hope, they have false hope.
How many people know the story of Aliko Dangote? Because young people don’t know that story, they don’t know anything about what most successful people did that made them successful. As far as they are concerned, the end for them justifies the means. So for us , the award is about the success stories. How you started, how you pulled through. We want to tell the story of Africa so that people can understand where they are coming from.
What is the Future Awards project and how has it been able to help project Nigeria positively?
It is amazing that the Future Award has been a rallying point and a platform that binds us together as young people. When we started the project in 2005, all we wanted to do was to give hope to young people, bring them together as the power of many from different works of life in different parts of the country, from Zamfara, Benue, Abuja, Enugu to Abia to Edo to Lagos and different parts of Nigeria on a single platform to celebrate outstanding performance and innovation irrespective of who you are, where you are from, as far as you have talent, and you have put in hard work.
For a project that is doing so much in rebranding Nigeria, do you have support from government?
Amazingly, we have had support at different levels. We have had people in government who believe in the project. People like Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Governor Kayode Fayemi and a lot people. Anyone who is concerned about the country; passionate and focused in adding value and doing it diligently will no doubt attract government attention and they will call you to come and deliver and add value because they can see what you have done. The project is about the Nigeria people, it is not about political office holders. It is about a message of hope that needs to be spread across all parts in country.
Have corporate institutions been supportive?
We are knocking on corporate doors. They are shutting the doors because they refused to catch the vision. Corporate organizations hardly sponsor awards in this country.
Most awards are trailed with controversies. What have the organizers of the Future Awards done differently?
We have made the screening process as transparent as possible. I doubt, except in my sleep, that there is one man who can beat his chest and say that he has paid money to the organizers of the awards to receive the award. We have judges from media houses, individuals with unquestionable integrity. We have disqualified nominees over the years for false claims but we don’t go public with such information.