By Evelyn Usman

DESPITE despicable acts by some unpatriotic Nigerians, particularly youths, to dent the nation’s image before the international community, some youths are still striving to change the narrative by flying the country’s flag in a positive light.

One of them is 22-year-old Lilian Ogbuefi, who is being recognised in the US and other countries for her outstanding performance.

In this interview, she attributes her emergence into limelight to the opportunity she got as the ONE-DAY Governor of Lagos State, in 2012 and therefore calls on corporate organisations and governments to focus more on creating platforms that will assist youths to develop themselves.

Excerpts:

*Lilian Ogbuefi

How did you get to where you are today?

The root of my success story can be traced to 2012 when I won the Spelling Bee competition organised by the Lagos State Government. First, I became a one day governor of Lagos State. It was like a dream, seeing myself addressing the house as a governor, even though it was a mock governor.

Thereafter, I was awarded scholarship to study in the United States of America. I graduated from Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee. Presently, I am working, even though it is not a paid job. Through writing, I have been able to draw the attention of the world to my country, Nigeria.

What have you to show for your writing so far?

I was the Best Essay writer LASTMA\LASSTSAP 2009, I got District Five Education Recognition/Merit Award 2012, but the one that really gave me life was the Spelling Bee 2012. But in the USA, I won the Best Cameo Appearance – Crack players, Nashville in 2017.

I have produced a film titled: Framed which is making waves both locally and internationally. I also have another drama, Dr Mekam, which is set to revolutionalise the Nigerian society.

In my final year in college, December 2016, I wrote and produced a short film. The film has been accepted into two film festivals. The African Film Festival,Houston and the Short Film Festival, Lagos.

The film is based loosely on a true life story.

What motivated you to write?

While in school, I saw different cases of students being abused. Some of the cases were most times covered up by  those in power because there is so much heated debate about what constitutes abuse in today’s society.

It was increasingly difficult for some of the victims to speak up. They were made to believe that abuse was only limited to sexual intercourse and that physical molestation didn’t count.

I wrote the film to shed light on the forms of sexual abuse that occur on college campuses and how they can affect the victims.

Being a broke student at that time, I had a budget of $100 which is ridiculously little but the film came out great.

Who is your role model ?

I don’t really have someone I see as my idol, but I have two persons that I look up to. The first is the Chief Executive Officer, Ebony Life TV and Producer of Wedding Party, Mo Abudu. She is bridging the gap between western and African cultures. Another person is Lupita Nyongo, a small town girl whom I used to watch on Shuga pursues her dream in the big city.

I won’t forget to mention my mother, Christiana Ogbuefi. In fact, she played a very significant role in my life. She discovered me at a very tender age and molded me. When I was in primary school, she would buy me novels, especially African novels. She did not discourage me from reading all through my holidays and watching some TV programme like KKB show. It was through KKB show that I saw an advert that needed a script writer and dialled the number. Later, I was interviewed and featured in the show. Then, I was in Kankon, Badagry, Lagos but I was not shortlisted for the competition. I felt bad and complained to my mother. But one day, my principal was celebrating his birthday and I wrote a poem for her. She was impressed and started including me in competitions. Through one of the competitions, I won the Spelling Bee that brought me to limelight.

What is your advice to youths?

I will advise Nigerian youths to grab any opportunity given to them by organisations that are into scholarship schemes. For instance, there are several competitions that are scholarship-based in Lagos State. I came to limelight through Spelling Bee. Without it, I may not have been known and my talent would have been wasted. The Spelling Bee is put together by New Era Foundation and it is doing well especially for indigent students.

I am from Anambra State but the Lagos State Government gave me opportunity to participate. I owe the Lagos State Government, New Era Foundation and Chief Mrs Oluremi Tinubu a life-time gratitude for being instrumental to what I am today. Most youths are talented but they are confused because of lack of financial wherewithal to establish themselves.

Other state governments should emulate the Lagos State Government to assist youths. This is one major way through which the image of the nation will be redeemed. I was given 75 per cent scholarship to study abroad and I won’t fail to appreciate the US Government that has been welcoming such gestures. Parents on the other hand, should encourage their children in whatever project or talents they have.

 

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