Winner of Big Brother Naija, Efe Ejeba, has been touring. The Delta State indigene visited The Nation newspaper and he spoke about his project of raising funds to treat 200 children with congenital heart conditions and other issues. Joe Agbro Jr was there. Excerpts
Since you won the BBN reality shows, you’ve been meeting with top people including governors and also receiving awards. How does this feel?
Two things. I’ve not met with governors. I’ve met with two governors – the governor of Plateau State and the governor of Delta State – which are my two homes. It’s obligatory that I meet with them. Secondly, nobody has given me awards.
After Big Brother, how do you intend to use this brand to encourage the dreamers we have around in Nigeria?
I think it’s just to do what I know how to do best.
What is it?
It’s music. Music has been what I’ve been doing for the past seven years. I started recording in 2010 and while I was in Jos. I left Jos as an elite artiste but the hunger for more brought me to Lagos in 2015. So, as Big Brother came, I said, ‘this is a big platform to showcase myself.’ If I didn’t go on Big Brother and I came here, no one would answer me.
Now, I came and you’re answering me. I’m just someone that has perseverance. I don’t give up. I finished my final year exams and in about two weeks, I packed my bags and came to Lagos. I was just waiting for school to finish. My mother wanted me to go to school and I gave her the certificate and took a walk. So, I came to Lagos, not knowing anybody. I gathered the money I made from my music in Jos and used it to pay for house rent and started life. I would be at home for one week atimes, I won’t go out because I didn’t know anybody in Lagos.
I just had that drive, that belief that one day, it would happen. I didn’t know how it would happen but today that is how it is. For me, I just feel that every youth should keep doing what they know how to do best and stay focus. That’s why I have three things as my mantra – You gotta believe in God, number two, believe in yourself and number three, you die put.
What about the awareness you’re trying to create of people donating one thousand naira?
For me, my life is divine. Expectations are very high. Some people feel that by now, I should be signing a lot of endorsement deals but I go by God. I see it as a very fortunate scenario that the first ambassadorship I belong to is charity. So, I put in my best with the influence I have. But I’m scared because when it gets to the real deal of actually contributing, it’s difficult.
The conversion rate is I have about 400, 000 followers on twitter, donating one thousand naira. But that’s the level I want to know how my influence is positive. That’s the only I measure how influential. So the 1K1M is a simple stuff. We need one thousand naira to be donated by one million individuals. That’s the least. You can donate like five thousand because it’s for open heart surgery for children in Nigeria. By September, we look to have raised one billion naira if one million Nigerians donate one thousand naira. But they can donate more. Some people are sending me screenshots that they’ve donated more than one thousand naira and it’s encouraging me that this is a good cause. I grew up in Jos and sometime ago, I heard people did open heart surgeries for children and I was actually happy.
So when they brought this stuff on board, I connected with the organisation. I’m very passionate about it. And this program covers only 200 children and we have about 1, 000 children on the waiting list. So, it is that bad. And about 85, 000 children are born with congenital defects every year in Nigeria. Just Nigeria. And for me, my brand is even beyond Nigeria. But for now, I’m focused on Nigeria.
Efe before BBN and Efe after BBN, what are the challenges you’ve had to face?
There are many now. Before, if I felt my urinating, I’ll just find one corner. I can’t actually buy boli again. It’s been long I bought akara. It’s been very annoying. Even my clothes, I can’t go to buy it. If I go to the boutique after the seller has taken pictures with me, he’ll now increase the price of what I want to buy. It’s tough.
Before, I used to say how I feel but now, I’m reminded that I’m responsible for 14 million people that voted for me. So, I can’t just talk how I feel even if it’s the truth. I have to diplomatic now. That’s the most painful thin for me because I like to be frank. But now I have to be cautious because some people may feel offended when I say what’s on my mind. That has really limited my level of expression.
But you’re also an ambassador for Nigerian youths. What are your duties?
It’s not actually a statutory position with duties and status. It’s more like you’re representing Nigerian youths as the ‘most popular youth.’ You have an obligation to work side by side with government. To the best of my ability, I’m definitely coming up with programmes to herd the youths in the right direction, with the support of the ministry.
Don’t these things put pressure on you?
Yes, it does. I’m human, I won’t lie. But for me, the only pressure I feel is the expectation from people. People say, ‘by now you would have done these, you would have done that.’ They don’t know that it’s a gradual process. Efe was just a normal guy. I’m now a brand and I need structures.
And that’s why I’ve been going around. People think I’m enjoying myself. I go for meetings and try to set the ball rolling so that one year from now, Efe will still be very much relevant. And thank God for my music which is a very sure content I will dish out. And by the way, my video for the song, ‘Based on Logistics’ will drop very very soon. So, after ‘based on Logistics’ video is out, I’m dishing out two singles back to back as e dey hot.
What were the indications to show that Big Brother Naija was actually watched by other African countries?
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from my social media handles. And we get calls too from people outside of Nigeria. I just responded to somebody from Namibia. Zambia is actually expecting me, South Africa, Kenya. Just round the whole of Africa. It’s surprising to me the love we get. It shows Nigeria is really the giant of Africa. Our voice is loud.
While you were in the BB house, you and Marvis were an item. What is the status of your relationship with her now?
This is like two months after the house. For me now, it’s progressive. I like to talk about my music and the things I’ve been doing currently. For me and Marvis, we’re very good friends.
But who among the housemates are you still very close with?
I’m still close with everybody as much as possible because there is no time and everyone is hustling. As I’m here at The Nation office, another person can even be in America hustling. Na forward ever bi di movement. I’m just actually happy that everyone is doing fine. I think this our set will really prove a point that everyone that goes to Big Brother don’t leave and not do well. And I pray that in as much as we’re moving ahead, we remember who we are and where we’re coming from.
While you were on the show, a segment of Nigerians criticised the show negatively, saying you people were promoting ills. What is your response to this?
This is about two months after the show. ‘How many of us have you actually heard that have left the house be involved in immoral display of character’? On a serious note, I’m very proud of my fellow housemates. We’re doing pretty well. No one will go into that house (BBN) and come out and play. We are hungry. So, on a note of ills, that house just portrayed what happens in reality. It was just because we were doing it behind closed doors.
And like I said in one interview, for me, it was in that house that I really knew God more and appreciate his wonders. Everybody shouts grace, I saw it, literarily. I’m a manifestation of grace. So, we can find God anywhere. It doesn’t matter. All those people talking ills know what happens behind closed doors. No need to starting shouting. We went to the house to live our true lives day and night.
Now, as Youth Ambassador for Nigeria, what is foremost that you’ll like to impact?
Formally, I’m still planning that. But the whole idea is self-development. Because, I don’t actually believe in waiting for anybody, not to even talk of the government in the first place. For instance, if you road is not tarred, if you have the money, you can tar it. No need to waste your credit calling the government, that’s the way I see it. Right from my 200 level in the university, I didn’t plan to look for work. I just wanted to do music, entertainment.
So I focused my energy there. But not everyone can do what I did. So, if you want to look for a job, find it well. That’s why they say, it’s to be focused that matters. But self-development is the best thing. You might be thinking this is where your path is but if you keep working on yourself, researching, you’ll get better. That’s why school is very important. Unfortunately, it’s not everyone that can go to school. But there are even handiworks and different things one can do aside schooling.
But I think self-development is one of the most important thing you need to know. It gives you self-confidence, it makes you believe in yourself and it makes you be not scared of making mistakes because the first problem we have is the fear to make mistakes. When I got up to go for this audition, you could say the judges would reject you but you’ll say if they don’t allow you enter, it’s not the end of the world. You move on. If you don’t make it, you go back to the drawing board. If you make it, you move forward. Ahead ahead, na im bi de way.
Culled from The Nation