By: Jesse Clef
Since the inception of Wazobia FM in Lagos, broadcasting has never been the same. Most radio dials in Lagos are now permanently tuned to the radio station that brings them information and programmes in a language that they can easily relate to.
Even though most people tend to idolize radio icons, only very few of them actually know or can recognize these on-air personalities; after all, radio is not a visual medium. For this reason, BOSS AFRICA MAGAZINEdecided to visit Wazobia 95.FM Lagos, in order to bring these radio personalities closer to our readers.
Jesse Clef and crew, who visited Wazobia 95.1 FM at their Lagos Island office, report the enthralling experience they had watching these friendly personalities interacting live on air and doing their job with so much ease and joy. The programme was ‘Evening Oyoyo’ and Diplomatic OPJ, Diplomatic Twitwi and Diplomatic Owitwi were available to offer them a warm reception.
First, here is a brief on the ‘Evening Oyoyo’ crew.
• ‘OPJ’ stands for Opute Pius Jnr. He hails from Ibrede town, an Isoko-speaking part of Ndokwa East Local Government Area in Delta State.
• Twitwi is Ayenowowon Oluwatobi Kenneth, from Aboto Ilaje Local Government Area in Ondo State.
• Owitwi is Ehigiamusoe Sarah Etinosa, from Uhumwonde Local Government Area in Edo
• Diplomatic OPJ is happily married while Twitwi and Owitwi are very much single, but whether they are searching is another matter entirely.
BOSS: Please tell us the rationale behind your non-usage of Standard English on your programmes.
OPJ: It is not our rationale; it is not ‘Evening Oyoyo’s’ reasoning. It is simply the management’s rationale, and perhaps the original idea is to bring broadcasting in all its understanding to the grassroots. People no dey hear grammar too much for Nigeria. After all, statistics have shown that 75% of Nigerians are illiterate, so my management deemed it so fit to introduce a pidgin-based radio where we can speak and the people will hear and understand.
BOSS: How effective has this pidgin-based radio been?
OPJ: Obviously, obviously and obviously it has been glaringly effective and you can see for yourself that Wazobia FM remains the No. 1 radio station in Nigeria. Right from inception till date it has earned that reputation.
BOSS: What makes ‘Evening Oyoyo’ unique as a radio programme?
OPJ: The uniqueness is in our style of presentation, in the sense that it is not pre-planned. We don’t do show prep before the programme; we just come unprepared unlike other presenters on other radio stations who have to prepare for their programmes. It is a programme where we talk with no hold barred. We dey talk am as e be. This is the only programme where government policies are x-rayed and criticized without any fear or favour. No sentiment. We no dey praise government and If you no dey do well, we go tell you to your face.
BOSS: You go fit look Oga Joe for face and tell am say, ‘My Presido, for here you no try o’?
OPJ: Na wa to you o! Goodluck Jonathan? We dey look am for face after him don talk for TV finish. After we don listen to am finish on some national issues, we dey come back here come tell am to him face say no be so o! During the Occupy Ojota fuel subsidy crisis, this was where we asked Jonathan whether during his campaigns he ever told us that he would remove fuel subsidy. We said to him, ‘It was not part of your campaign manifesto, but as soon as you come on board you gave Nigerians fuel subsidy removal as our New Year gift.’
Na here too wey we ask Reuben Abati, his press spokesman, during the Baga killings wey after all their fact findings and all that Reuben Abati was telling Nigerians was that na only 29 people dem kill and they recovered several ammunitions, AK 47guns, grenade launchers, another bomb launcher and you are telling us that all these ammunitions you recovered were able to kill only 29 people, abi? Whereas the press was talking about one hundred and something people being killed and about one thousand seven hundred and something houses being razed. So in a village where one thousand seven hundred and something houses were destroyed only 29 people were killed? Na here we dey ask am ba!
BOSS:With all this liberty wey you dey take ask these questions, do they respond?
OPJ: As it were, the Nigerian government no dey hear word na!
BOSS: You sure say dem dey hear wetin una dey talk?
OPJ & OWITWI: Dem dey hear o! Dem dey ear well well.
OPJ: The thing about Nigerian government be say, you your sef you be
Nigerian person na. How many government functionaries don resign from office wey you know? No matter how you berate them, no matter how you carpet them, if you like curse them reach their family dem no go resign. Which minister don vex resign before?We know they are listening, at most or worst they will say don’t mind those Wazobia people. No be OPJ and him boys? No be OPJ and him group? Yeye people [laughs]…I beg leave them..
Some of the things we say have also made some positive impact on the society. We effect change in the society. For example, e get some roads way we criticize and after like two weeks when I go pass there again dem don do the road well. So we dey know say we day make impact but we cannot stop talking, because we have an activist nature on this programme. We are activists and that is why we are diplomatic. The programme is a democratic programme, so everybody on this show is a democrat; na democracy we dey practise here, so we dey talk am as e be.
You cannot tell me that in the next twelve months Nigerians will experience steady power supply, that the national grid would have generated up to 8000 megawatts and twelve months pass e still be the same thing. We dey ask Goodluck na! No be so e dey be o! We say it as it is and this is the only programme where you can hear it like that. Na so e be. We are even looking for a way of getting national arrest. Make dem try come arrest us sef.
BOSS: If dem put gun for your head say make you stop talking, wetin you
OPJ: I go ask the person say for democracy? No be military regime o! I go tell am say, ‘Oga no be soldier dey rule o’! Na military government dey do like that and now na democracy we dey so. We have freedom of speech. After all, dem don even pass information bill na.
Okay, look at the people wey dey fight for Rivers State House of Assembly. Dem dey fight like animals and we dey talk am the way we see am. It is so obvious, when a lawmaker dey carry mace dey take flog him fellow lawmaker. Are they students? Thereby giving the police authority the right to shut down the state House of Assembly. Is that not shutting down the homes of hoodlums? We dey talk am for radio like as e be.
BOSS: Twitwi, how you dey cope with Diplomatic OPJ sef?
OPJ: This person wey don finish him state governor for Ondo State? Mimiko, dey find this guy o!
BOSS: Only you dey kill and resurrect your governor.
TWITWI: No, the guy never die. Our prayer na make him no die. I no talk enter dat side now because this interview is not about him. Na about ‘Evening Oyoyo’.
As for coping with OPJ, OPJ na the best person to work with apart from say we share same political view, apart from say we get similar orientation to a large percentage of our human life and reasoning. Like for our work na the bossing aspect no really dey inside. OPJ no be person wey you go wan say he is my boss, no be because say no be your boss but na because of the way wey him take welcome you, the way him take you, that makes it so easy working with him.
BOSS: Do you share the same religious belief with OPJ?
TWITWI: We get the same similarities but our differences dey when it comes to religion. Our religious similarities plenty sha.One common similarity way I get with am na say I always say this about this part of the world because I never travel commot from this country before. Most people in this part of the world do not really understand their religion, because if you understand your religion you will understand that you are supposed to be a teacher and a preacher of that religion. Not just somebody who listens to one person taking all the time. This religion is like a handout that has been given by another believer of that religion, like a lecturer to his students and without the presence of your lecturer you should be able to study the handout and pass your exams.
OPJ: In addition to what Twitwi is saying, the idea of make you dey go church every day wey na only one man dey talk, na only pastor dey talk, what is he talking about in the Bible that I don’t know?
TWITWI: Apart from even the Christianity or religious angle, we need leadership. Every association or organization needs leaders and all that, but the truth be say attributing so much to only one person, that one no good.
BOSS: Let me take you up on the issue of leadership and una [your] democratic job on radio trying to sensitize the people on the what you feel is the best way forward. Do you think man can solve mankind’s problems?
TWITWI: Surely man can. Na man bring the problem so na man go solve am. A lot of things wey people dey always look at from a spiritual angle, if you look am well it only takes physical solutions.We no fit detach spirituality from physicality because they both work together. Most of the things for Nigeria here need physical solution. No be everything we go de go on our knees.
BOSS: Do you say these same things on radio?
OPJ & TWITWI: There is nothing we don’t say on radio.
OPJ: Everybody dem dey pray, yet Nigeria no dey better. Even go back to the Madala bombing of Redeemed church abi one church. No be prayer dem dey pray there when dem throw bomb and everywhere explode? Prayer dey work na im bomb explode? E no turn to water? E get some shrine way you go throw bomb and e no go work, according to our African religious setting. How come bomb explode inside a place they call the house of God?
TWITWI: Make Nigerians stop their holier-than-thou attitude, for things to go well. No be every time offering time and all that.
BOSS: So far so good, I see you guys are really enjoying your job. I will really want to know for how long you have been a broadcaster?
OPJ: I metamorphosed from a DJ to a broadcaster. I started in 1976. What qualified you then as a DJ was your ability to speak on the microphone, so then every DJ must have some microphone qualities as we deejayed and spinned (talked) at the same time. Deejaying has been my first love and after several years as a DJ, I applied for broadcasting with Radio Nigeria 1 as my first radio station in the day of medium and short wave band. I was on Radio Nigeria 1 for 10 years (1992 – 2001).
I was basically presenting musical programmes. I was presenting the Saturday Big Beats on Radio Nigeria. I presented Calypso and Soca Music too. For those 10 years, I held these two programmes. Maybe it was because of my style of presentation, but my executive director then on Radio Nigeria was quick to realize that I was an FM Radio material, so I was deployed internally to Metro FM, the sister station to Radio Nigeria. I experienced Radio Broadcasting in Metro FM for 6 years, making it 16 years of broadcasting. It was after these 16 years that I voluntarily crossed-carpeted to Wazobia FM in September 2008.
BOSS: Within these four and a half years you have spent at Wazobia FM, how many programmes have you presented?
OPJ: I have been on the evening belt; we don’t shift belts since you own your belt. Like Yaw owns the morning belt while I have run the evening belt since our assumption of duties. Inside ‘Evening Oyoyo’, there are other programme segments. We have the ‘Go Slow Yan’ segment which starts the programme. We also have ‘Talk Your Mind’, a programme where we open the lines for people to call in and express whatever they have in mind. But then we must have dropped a topic on ground, mainly political issues, giving people the freedom to speak their mind.
Note that it is not only political issues as topics may change based on matters arising. We also have a segment for upcoming artists which we call ‘Ogbonge New Gbedu’. It is a chat programme that parades the best 9 songs of up-and-coming artists. It is a daily programme that starts by 9pm and it is strictly for up-and-coming artistes that do not have the resources to promote their songs on radio, so we show them love and encourage them through this programme.
TWITWI: Me na Wazobia I from start broadcasting o!
BOSS: So you jest from street enter radio?
TWITWI: I just from street enter radio and na this year November go make me 3 years in broadcasting, but outside that I’m a trained computer engineer.
OWITWI: I started here August last year, but basically I’m a broadcaster by profession. My first degree was in Mass Communication and I specialized in broadcasting. My postgraduate degree was in Journalism. I eat and drink, I eat and sleep in broadcasting. I worked with NTA Benin for about a year. I was a reporter/journalist and my programme then was ‘Campus Life’.
BOSS: This question is for you OPJ. How come you don’t play Nigerian songs in your private setting as I have noticed and observed you severally?
OPJ: The truth of the matter is that I don’t like the kind of music they are playing here in Nigeria. In my days as a DJ I remember we never had so much of Nigerian music in the discotheque and all that. So those of us that come from that era as DJs were mainly influenced by foreign music. I still have a lot of foreign musical influence in my vein. The Makossa they play today in this part of the world, the Afro Hip and Afro is what I’m yet to understand. I’m yet to understand them and as a matter of fact, I’m not a fan of Nigerian music. It doesn’t mean they are not doing well o! By Nigerian music standard they are actually playing great music and I must commend them for that.
BOSS: Is it really true that an artiste will need to grease your palm if he or she wants his or her song to enjoy massive air play?
OPJ: Honestly, there is nowhere in the world where it is stipulated that an artiste should pay for promo. As far as I know, the radios and TV houses are supposed to pay royalties to artistes for playing their songs. In a situation where artistes give money to presenters, to me it is done everywhere in the world. They call it Payola in America. That is why people like Puff Daddy (PDD) at times bought cars for presenters, not that the presenters asked them to buy them cars. They call it appreciation, like KCEE (the Limpopo King) for instance. I’m the main man behind KCEE in his solo effort. KCEE never gave anybody money here when he started coming, but now if he buys me a jeep it will be in appreciation. Not that I asked him to buy me a jeep o! So if an artiste comes to me and says, ‘OPJ, take this fifty thousand naira, I no tell am to bring money o! Me I go take; it is appreciation.
BOSS: What will you give up broadcasting for?
OPJ: I cannot give up broadcasting for anything! It is for life.
BOSS: Twitwi, if you are asked to work with the presidency, won’t you leave this job?
TWIWI: That na broadcasting na! Everybody needs broadcasting in their life. Whether you are directly employed as a broadcaster or not, one way or another you are broadcasting.
OPJ: Broadcasters are born not made, mind you.
TWIWI: In fact, almost everybody now in Nigeria is a broadcaster, broadcasting on their BBM!
BOSS: Owitwi, if you get married tomorrow and your husband makes so much money and says you should please stop broadcasting and venture into something else, what will you do?
OWITWI: My husband can’t even say that. If I’m not a presenter today, I’ll be a public relations practitioner tomorrow. I’ll definitely remain in the field. I can’t leave this field. It’s not possible. I can’t.