‘Winning 2012 Lagos state Spelling Bee changed my life’
Ever since she emerged winner in the 2012 edition of the Spelling Bee competition, Lilian Ogbuefi’s life has not been the same. Aside from becoming a one-day Governor of Lagos State, the Anambra Sate native has been making exploits in the United States with several awards to her credit. In this interview with ODITA SUNDAY, the 22-year-old spoke on her experience as a one-day Lagos State Governor and how that opportunity changed her life for good.
How did it all start?
Really, it all began in 2012 when I won a spelling bee organised by the Lagos State Government; my life is no more the same. First, I became a one-day governor in Lagos State; I toured the state and I addressed the house as a governor, though it was a mock governor. I was given scholarship to study in the USA and I graduated in Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee. Since my graduation, I’ve been working, though it’s not a paying job. I’m doing some writings that have drawn the world’s attention to Nigeria; I’m bringing pride to my country.
Could you give us an insight on your achievements so far in terms of awards?
Really, I have won awards in Nigeria and other countries. For example, 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; these ones were given to me in Nigeria. But in the USA, I won the Best Cameo Appearance -Crack players, Nashville in 2017. I have done a film, Framed, which is making waves both locally and internationally. My film has been accepted in two film festivals in Lagos and Houston. I have another drama, Dr. Mekam, which is set to revolutionalised the movie cum cinema landscape in Nigeria. The movie is like a mirror that has mirrors the Nigerian society.
December 2016, following the death of my father, I wrote and produced a short film during my final year in the college; that has now been accepted into two film festivals; the African film Festival in Houston and the in Short Film Festival, Lagos. The film is based largely on a true-life story. While in School, I saw different cases of students being abused; cases that were most times covered up by the people in power. Because there is so much heated debate about what constitutes to abuse in current day 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 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 and is a testimony to what can be achieved when creative minds come together and collaborate.
Who do you consider as your idol?
I don’t really have someone I see as my idol, but I have two persons that I look up to; Mo Abidu, who is the Chief Executive Officer, EbonyLife TV and Producer of wedding party. She is breaking across cultural boundaries, bridging the gap between western and African cultures. Another person that I look up to is Lupita Nyongo; a small town girl whom I used to watch on Shuga pursues her dream in the big city and now an academy award winner. I believe that if both can do it, I can do it.
What role did your mother play in your life?
My mother, Christiana Ogbuefi, played a very significant role in my life. When she noticed that I was talented, that was during my primary school, she used to 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. In fact, it was on KKB show that I saw an advert that a scriptwriter was needed; I copied the number, went for the interview and was featured on the show. When I was in Kankon Badagry, I was not selected in competition; then I used to complain to my mother. But one day, my principal was celebrating her birthday, and I wrote a poem for her; she was impressed and she started including me in competitions. Through the competitions, I won the Spelling Bee that brought me to limelight.
What’s your advise to the youth?
The country is not easy, but the youths should grab the opportunity given to them by organisations that are into scholarship schemes. Like in Lagos State, there are so many competitions going on; I came to limelight through spelling Bee. Without it, I may not have been known and my talent may have been wasted. Grab the opportunity and move on. The spelling Bee put together by New Era Foundation is doing well, especially for indigent students. I’m from Anambra State, yet the Lagos State government gave me the opportunity to participate. I want to thank the Lagos State Government, New Era Foundation and Chief Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu for helping to mould future leaders; they are doing fantastically well.
How do you think government can encourage young people?
I want to appeal to corporate organisations, individuals, federal and state governments to help the youth to grow. Most of the youths have the talents to excel, but are confused; they should be assisted through programme like talent search. Other state governments should emulate the Lagos state government that is helping the youths through programmes that offer scholarship schemes. I was given 75 per cent scholarship to study abroad and today, I have graduated. I also want to thank the US Government that has been welcoming such gestures; I want the government to do more. Most importantly, I want parents to always encourage their children in whatever project or talents they have.
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