Charity Work Remains My Biggest Passion

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Osasu Igbinedion

The Founder of The Osasu Show (TOS), Osasu Igbinedion, is determined to help provide a better future for young girls who have become victims of forced and early marriage and those subjected to female genital mutilations. Damilola Oyedele writes

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Her passion for the well-being of the girl child is evident. For her, the issue of child marriage with its attendant consequences, particularity in northern Nigeria, is one that requires urgent intervention. Same passion was responsible for the decision to establish the Osasu Show Foundation in 2016, to run as the charity arm of The Osasu Show (TOS), which berthed in 2015.

“We realised at some point that we were practically doing more charity works than interviews. So we created the foundation,” Osasu Igbinedion told this writer.

A Show and a foundation

She started The Osasu Show when she returned to Nigeria in August 2014, after studying in the United States. She ventured into advertising, and admits making ‘so much money’ since it was the political campaign season. Osasu, however, felt discontented with the state of the affairs in the country.

“But I was still doing charity work because that is what I am passionate about; that is where I believe my purpose is; that is what gets me out of bed in the morning. So after a while, I asked myself, ‘How do I bridge the divide between me trying to get these politicians elected by doing their campaigns, and giving back to the people who are subjected to poverty?” she said.

TOS Foundation, formally registered in 2016, has a mission to improve welfare and livelihood of women and youths, especially in rural communities through the creation of programmes in education, economic empowerment and capacity building to fast-track the eradication of poverty in Nigeria and Africa.

The fervour in Osasu’s voice as she discussed her media work on TOS, reached its peak when she discussed some of the works embarked upon by the foundation. She recalled with sadness, her visit to Agatu (in Benue State), where she saw the aftermath of the horrors of the massacre unleashed on hapless citizens by marauding herdsmen.

“I saw sadness, so much brutality, and injustice. Women will tell you how they were raped by people who were meant to be protecting them. I am not just talking about the insurgents now,” she said.

Osasu also recounted her experiences with child brides whom she encountered at Ngogo in Kano State, and lamented that many of the girls were denied the chance to choose if they wanted to be married off.

“Some of them had already been abandoned by their husbands who could not fend for them. So, we went there, spoke to the Imams, to Islamic clerics, to teachers and their parents and we spoke to the child brides. The conversations helped us in highlighting the importance of education,” she said.

The Foundation currently has 10 girls from Kano on the list of its beneficiaries for scholarships, with plans to send more girls in the area back to school.

The Edo State-born Osasu, however, does not think educating child brides would be the answer. She harped on the need for the implementation of laws that protect the rights of the girl child, and protect them from forced marriage or female genital mutilation.

She has also worked to provide succour for residents of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Area 1, Abuja and Karma-Jiji in the Federal Capital Territory, providing them with learning facilities, clothing, food items and funds for empowerment.

“I was using my funds initially for over a year, it is just the money I make from my show, my TOS network but lately people from all over have been contributing. Someone called us from London, said “we love the work that you are doing and we want to sent you money” and he sent N200,000 and someone sent N50,000 after the symposium. So we are happy that people are finally seeing the work we are doing and they want to support that,” Osasu said.

The foundation on August 25 held its inaugural symposium in Abuja with the theme ‘The New Economy and Its Impact on Less Privileged Citizens’ to provide a platform for a critical reflection and interrogation from a wider array of participants on the Nigeria’s corruption perception status and anti-graft war, environmental degradation, rising inflation, poor infrastructure, GDP, and the sorry state of healthcare delivery system and adult literacy.

As expected, she has high projections for TOS and the foundation.

“We have launched TOS TV network and our slogan is news from Africa by Africans. So, the show, the foundation, the network is an African entity, but we will not limit it to Nigeria. We are going to expand to other African countries. We have already done some works in Kenya and Ghana and we want to do more elsewhere as well.

“I believe that the image the western world has given Nigeria is unfair. It is not a true reflection of who we are as a people. Something needs to be done to change that and that is where we come in as a show and as a foundation and as a TV network, to change that brand image that has been given to us over the years because we are a people who are innovative, extremely hard-working, and very intelligent. I think more of our positive attitudes need to be showcased to the entire world so that they know who we really are and not just black, corrupt, diseased ridden poor people. We are more than that and it is time we take our narrative into our own hands,” Osasu added.

Education

It seems Osasu has always set her sights on being a media practitioner, considering her choices of courses for study in the United States. A 2013 graduate of Communication and Media Studies from Stonehill College, Osasu obtained a master’s degree in Corporate and Organisational Communication from Northeastern University, in 2014, before proceeding to the New York Film Academy to study Film/TV Producing. She also got the opportunity to intern at the MGM studios in Beverly Hills.

The Political Connection

Osasu is one of six children of the former Edo State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion, and his wife, Eki, and granddaughter of the Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion. She, however, believes she had a normal childhood.

“Our household is very normal. I was raised by two loving parents. They are god-fearing and they ensure that my siblings and I are very grounded and disciplined. They taught us the importance of hard work, the importance of having a vision for oneself, a plan and to work assiduously in achieving it. Most important, they instilled the fear of God in every one of us; going to church was never an option. It was compulsory; reading our Bible was compulsory; being obedient was mandatory as well. So I think that in general they ensure that we are well-brought up children.

“My mom has this ability to remain calm in every situation. I always say she is like the glue of the family. We all call her for advice. Even my dad, would call my mom when he is going through something to ask, ‘What do you think I should do?’ She has God-given wisdom. I inherited a little fraction of that from her. For my dad, he says more in silence than he does when he talks,” Osasu said as she described her parents.

So how did she feel when her father was standing trial for corruption or when he is being vilified by the press?

“I don’t think it is much of how I feel about stuffs like that because we have freedom of speech in this country. I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you do get the chance to speak to him, you can ask him about his own feelings about that. As a governor, he governed to the best of his ability and he was able to succeed in some areas and he failed in some other areas like every other human beings.

“So I don’t think it is necessarily about the feeling towards that, but what he was able to achieve as a person. What is the record going to say about him? What does he say about himself? Is he happy with his tenure? I think his feelings are paramount to mine,” she said.

Political Ambitions

While she does not hold any political ambition for now, it is obvious she would not completely rule that out.

“I don’t know what the future holds but if it is left to me, I would stay where I am in the business world and continue to make the impact I am making today.”

She believes that the lack of ideologies has made Nigeria’s political parties to become sort of interest groups, which are solely about politicians, and not about governance.

“The people in APC today are they not the same people from PDP? The people in PDP today, some of them have even started to leave APC back to PDP. We have interest groups we don’t have political parties. Until we start to build political parties on ideologies, nothing really distinguishes our political parties in this country. The Americans have the Republicans who are conservatives, while the Democrats are liberals, so Nigerians need to know what they are voting for.

“If you are voting for APC, are they pro-poor? Are they going to implement pro-poor policies? If you are voting for PDP, is it pro-rich policy? What exactly are we voting for? As a people, we have not been able to demand clear ideologies from the political parties and I think that is why we are where we are today,” She added.

While she concedes that the APC may have done a good job in fighting corruption and insurgency, she feels the party has been unable to properly manage the economy. For her, heaping the blame for the economic downturn on 16 years of mismanagement by the PDP, does not cut it anymore, particularly as campaigns for the 2019 general elections begin to heat up.

Hobbies

Osasu has yet to find the balance between work and relaxing as she considers working to be a hobby.

She, however, takes out time to read, and watch some television shows.

“I am passionate about my work. So it is like when I am working, I really don’t know I am working. I am always working literally even on weekends. I really haven’t found that balance,” she admitted.