One lady that is making Nigeria proud at home and in the diaspora is Lilian Ogbuefi. The 22-year-old was the ceremonial One-Day Governor of Lagos State in 2012 and like the award winning writer, Chimamanda Adichie, she has started gaining recognition in the United States of America, where she studied.
Ogbufi who has also won awards at home and abroad expresses gratitude to the Lagos State Government for helping in bringing out her talent.
How it all began
It all started in 2012, when I won the Spelling Bee competition organised by the Lagos State government. Immediately I won the competition, my life changed completely. First, I became the One-Day Governor in Lagos State. I toured the state and I addressed the state House of Assembly as a governor. I was awarded a scholarship to study in the US, and I graduated from Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee. I am working now, even though it is not a paying job. I have done some writings that have drawn the world’s attention to Nigeria. I brought pride to my country.
I have won awards in Nigeria and other countries. For example, I was the best essay writer LASTMA/LASSTSAP 2009. I got the District 5 Education Recognition/Merit Award in 2012, but the one that really gave me a new life was the Spelling Bee competition. These awards were won in Nigeria but in the USA, I won the best Cameo Appearance – Crack Players, Nashville, in 2017. I have done a film, “Framed,” that 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 revolutionalise the movie landscape in Nigeria. The movie mirrors the Nigerian society.
In December 2016, following the death of my father, I wrote and produced a short film during my final year in college, which has now been accepted at two film festivals. The African Film Festival, Houston, and the Short Film Festival, Lagos. The film is based 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 debate about what constitutes 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 assault and the 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 student at that time, I had a budget of $100, which was ridiculously little, but the film came out great and is a testimony to what can be achieved when creatives come together and collaborate.
I don’t really have someone I see as my idol, but I have two persons that I look up to: Mo Abudu, the chief executive officer of Ebony Life TV and producer of ‘The Wedding Party.’ She is breaking grounds across cultural boundaries, bridging the gaps between western and African cultures. Another person that I look up to is Lupita Nyongo, a small town girl whom I watchede on “Shuga” pursued her dream in the big city and is now an Acadamy award winner. I believe that, if both can do it, I can do it too.
Mother’s role in my success story
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 bought me novels, especially African novels. She did not discourage me from reading all through my holidays and watching some TV programme like the ‘KKB Show.’ It was in the ‘KKB Show’ that I saw an advert that they needed a scriptwriter, I copied the number. I was interviewed and I was featured in the show. When I was in Kankon Badagry, I was not selected in the competition and I 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 to include me in competitions after that. Through the school competitions, I won the Spelling Bee competition that brought me to limelight.
Advice to youths
The country is not easy but the youth should take advantage of the opportunities offered by organisations that are into scholarship schemes. Like in Lagos State, there are many competitions going on. I came into the limelight through the spelling bee competition. Without it, I might not have been known and my talent might have been wasted. Grab the opportunities and move on. The spelling bee competition, put together by New Era Foundation, is doing well, especially for indigent students. I am 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 Senate Oluremi Tinubu for helping to mould feature leaders. They are doing fantastically well.
I want to appeal to corporate organisations, individuals, federal and state governments to help the youth to grow. Most youths have the talents to excel but they are confused; they should be assisted through programmes like talent hunt. Other state governments should emulate Lagos state that is helping the youth through programmes that offer scholarships. I was given 75 per cent scholarship to study abroad and I have graduated. I also want to thank the US government that welcomed such gestures. I want the government to do more. I also want parents to always encourage their children in whatever project or talents they have.