At Launch of Secrets of the Streets, Teju Babyface Discloses Why He Stepped Away from Comedy


Nseobong Okon-Ekong

For over one decade, he registered his presence in the Nigerian entertainment space as a compere at public functions, and more importantly as a stand-up comedian. But in recent years, his smooth, round face has been missing at comedy shows. Unknown to many, Gbadewonuola Olateju Oyelakin, better known as Teju Babyface, had come to a major crossroad in his career. The question he had to answer was what he could do to be more impactful and leave a lasting legacy.

He told the delightful gathering at the launch of his book, ‘Secrets of the Streets’ at the MUSON Centre, Onikan-Lagos, which included Professor Pat Utomi, Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Church, Basorge Tariah Jr., Julius Agwu, Azubuike Ishiekwene, Frank Edoho, Tee A, Debola Williams, Owen Gee, Lepacious Bose, Bunmi Davies and a lot of other top dignitaries, entrepreneurs, entertainers and friends who joined in the celebration that he had experienced a difficult time during which nobody knocked on his door to ask for his services as a compere or comedian.

It was during this period that an inner voice began to relay messages on life experiences to him. Many of these were directly linked to his situation. For long hours, he would ignore his food and could not sleep. All he did was write messages as they came to him. These series of communication from his inner man connected with the meaning of the song, ‘Eri Okan/Conscience’ by King Sunny Ade which has since become the signature tune for The Teju Babyface Show.

One of the biggest influence to the new life he desired was Adeyemi. He acquired as many books and audio messages as possible from the preacher. He read various books written by him as many times as he could. And listened to his speeches again and again. Adeyemi who was later called to launch the book listened as Teju revealed how he deliberately schemed his way to become; first, his acquaintance and later, his friend.

‘Secrets of the Streets’, points the way for Teju. Going forward, he would like to be known as an author of inspirational and motivational books and one who gives speeches that sparks something in people and moves them to positive action. The event started with photo session where guests took pictures with Teju, some got their books signed by him after which they proceeded to AGIP Hall for the commencement of the ceremony.

The book launch was compered by Oscar Oyinsan and after a brief introduction of the VIPs present, Teju was invited to talk about Secrets of the Streets’.

The stand-up comedian cum writer, Teju Babyface highlighted the key moments in his life, starting with his decision to be a comedian. He further talked about his father who disapproved him of being a comedian and how he got into trouble several times for arriving home late after performing at shows. He said, “Whenever I got home past 11 pm, I knew I was in for it. I would quietly open the gate and the door. I would try to sneak upstairs expecting my parents to be fast asleep but I was always wrong. My dad would catch me in the act and tell me to return to where I was coming from.”

Teju further explained that while he didn’t have ‘the streets’ upbringing, he learnt a lot from his friends who did. “Because I couldn’t speak pidgin, because I went to private a primary school-Corona and because I wasn’t a Niger-Deltan, some people underestimated me but here I am today, “ he remarked.
He concluded by reiterating that while he was still in the business of bringing laughter to people’s faces, he is no longer a stand-up comedian. Throughout his speech, he dropped wisecracks and anecdotes that threw the audience into fits of laughter. For instance, he made everyone believe he was going to play on the grand piano that adorned stage.

With their breath held, the audience waited to witness a display of a previously unknown talent of Teju. Alas, he struck a few keys on the piano, looked and threw up his hands. “I just payed it!” The unexpected burst of laughter continued for a few minutes before it decreased enough to allow continuation of the programme.

The Port Harcourt edition of the Mega Music Nationwide Tour sponsored by Globacom witnessed an unscripted drama as the duo of Peter and Paul Okoye widely known as PSquare “crowned” the living music legend, Innocent Idibia, alias 2Baba as a new addition to the impressive list of Glo ambassadors.
The hall erupted in cheers as the enigmatic P Square, who had just finished their superlative performance returned on stage with one of the godfathers of modern Nigerian music, 2Baba in tow.

Svelte Ebube Nwagbo and Juliet Ibrahim had earlier been on stage to announce that there was a surprise for the crowd. As the stage light dimmed, Nollywood star jester, Victor Osuagwu, who made a celebrity guest appearance at the show, came on stage followed by P Square, who cheerily announced the presence of 2Baba. The talented twins then symbolically initiated Idibia into the exclusive brand ambassadorial
class by placing a crown gingerly on his head.

He subsequently began his first official performance as a Glo ambassador, taking the audience on a musical cruise that traversed his sojourn in the music industry from his days as one of the trio of the defunct Plantashun Boiz.
The singer-songwriter, record producer and entrepreneur also performed his hit single African Queen which seemed like opium to the crowd who sang along with him line-for-line.

Ogba Zoo and Nature Park is Edo State’s foremost conservation and tourism enclave, which for years was neglected and abandoned until 2000 when the administration of former Gov. Lucky Igbinedion under Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement ceded the management of the park to a private firm headed by one of Edo State’s renowned tourism practitioner, Andy Osa Ehanire, with a promise to fund the rejuvenation of the park among others.

Ehanire and his management team have largely succeeded in bringing back from the brink the death the zoo, breathed life into it and make a growing concern and a tourist attraction attracting the interest
of nature lovers, conservationists, fun and leisure seekers who daily, especially during festive periods, throng the nature and leisure enclave for entertainment.

While the management is still battling the Edo State government to keep it own end of the bargain in respect of funding the zoo, however, investigation revealed that Ehanire is fighting perhaps the greatest battle of his life, as he is engaged with both poachers of the zoo’ natural resources and land grabbers, who have in the last couple of years decimated the zoo.

Historically, Ehanire disclosed the wide reach of the zoo: ‘‘The Ogba Zoo, which we manage, was designed and developed in the early seventies by then military administrator of former Bendel State, the late Brig. General Samuel O. Ogbemudia. Its concept was an extensive biological garden, with potential for resort development.

‘‘Soon after Ogbemudia’s regime, the zoo suffered a long era of decline and eventual collapse, spanning the late eighties and nineties. By the time of our private sector – led intervention in the year 2000, the zoo was already in the ‘mortuary’ and was like ready to be written off the books.’’
But the intervention of his firm, he said brought it back to life but without a prize: ‘‘The extent of its abandonment and decay, notwithstanding, Ogba Zoo experienced a painful rebirth through our rescue mission, which was purely self-financing, with no support from government.

‘‘But as challenging as reviving a moribund zoo was, there were other hidden challenges that can hardly be imagined in a sane society,’’ added Ehanire, who is also the secretary general of the Nigerian Association of Zoos and Parks (NAZAP), even as he narrated the several ordeals of the park.
‘‘It started as a minor incursion by community land grabbers into the zoo land until it was aided by official government instruments in the form of a gazette. All these years of battling the encroachment on the zoo, our private-sector led management was as good as left to solely tackle the growing menace unaided.
‘‘The land area encroached upon grew from about 10% of the zoo land that was ceded by the gazette, to more than 60% of the entire zoo. It was like a horror movie seeing bulldozers leveling priceless flora in this pristine conservation heritage that had been a classic urban forest rarely found anywhere in the world.’’

Memos, he said were written to the state government and other concerned groups in the state, such as the state House of