Peter Uzoho writes on the recently launched lifestyle television series Betterhalf talk show by Godman Akinlabi, popularly known as PeeGee

At 57, Nigeria is still in the grip of extreme poverty and unemployment. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the Q4 2016 unemployment figure at 14.2 per cent, at which time a record 29 million Nigerians were unemployed. Naturally, this situation has spawned all manner of social vices which have cost many their lives, property and human dignity.

While some feel this dire situation can only be turned around for the better if people are actively and profitably engaged, others like renowned relationship counsellor Godman Akinlabi blame dysfunctional families for this development. His argument is that troubled homes and failed relationships can only produce troubled minds with little or no scruples to prevent them from venting their frustrations on society however they deem fit.

In recent times, domestic violence and marital breakups have been making headlines. In 2009, the National Population Commission (NPC) disclosed that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Africa. It said as many as two thirds of Nigerian women experience physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their husbands. As if to buttress this, a recent small-scale study conducted in Oyo and Lagos States indicated that 65 per cent of educated and 56 per cent of blue-collar or market women are abused on a regular basis, but keep mum on their travails due to shame and a frantic attempt to maintain their households.

As an author, public speaker and convener of Vantage Forum, Akinlabi has always been primed to make an impact on society and empower individuals to achieve the highest levels of distinction in their businesses through seminars, workshops and mentorship programmes. He is taking relationships equally seriously, and argues that official statistics vastly understate the rate of failed relationships in Nigeria because separated couples often do not publicise their status.

“As a longstanding relationship counsellor, I can categorically state that only a few marriages last. As such, we are collectively tasked as a nation to break whatever myths and undefined notions people have about relationships while also educating and counselling partners on best practices in a relationship. The idea is to have experienced couples, newlyweds and partners share life secrets and challenges to grooming a successful relationship,” he says.

Akinlabi is bent on walking his talk. Last month, he launched his lifestyle television series Betterhalf talk show to plug the knowledge gap in successful relationship building across Africa.
Betterhalf Show is a non-religious and non-ethnic platform which seeks to critically analyse and address issues affecting married people and those in relationships leading to marriage. Its uniqueness lies in active participation by renowned relationship experts, discussants and a diverse audience mix setting the stage for robust exchange of ideas to build sustainable relationships.

Akinlabi, who doubles as host of the Betterhalf Series says: “Relationships are driven by fundamental principles that are universal and timeless, The BetterHalf Show opens a window on the practical responsibilities partners need to adopt to excel in various types and stages of relationships. While challenging the naive optimism that relationships can be based on mere emotions, the show provides the insights required to excel by leveraging the experiences of others.

“Transcending religious, cultural and ethnic biases, The BetterHalf Show seeks to break whatever myths and undefined notions people have about relationships while also educating and counselling partners and singles on what it takes to build and sustain successful relationships.”

Akinlabi holds a special Twitter event every Friday with the hashtag #MrMrsBetterHalf. The conversation shares practical tips on building successful relationships, and has featured on the top 100 British “trending topics” on Twitter. Betterhalf show is an offshoot of the digital conversation.

He says: “The Betterhalf series is not exactly new because it has run on Twitter for four years. However, positive feedback has necessitated the live show to accommodate more viewers and encourage participation by a cross section of our target audience not necessarily active in the digital space. We have launched the talk show in Nigeria and look forward to going global in the future.”

Akinlabi wants couples and lovebirds to look out for Betterhalf, not just for its entertainment value, but also to strengthen their relationships and share positive experiences they have leveraged to make their relationships work with viewers. He says: “If you watch the show, people talk about their lives in real time. I throw in probing questions and share words of wisdom that the audience can learn from. But most importantis the ability to instil wisdom and principles that will make any marriage work and last. Certain principles govern marriage and relationships generally. That’s why some people who have mastered those principles do a lot better and can manage relationships a lot better than others.”

His viewership is a mix of young and old because for him, knowledge is a lifelong experience that infuses dynamism into relationships and is ultimately responsible for their success. “Young people are more impressionable, so they align faster. But the show is really for everybody; even those who have been married for a number of years. The basic understanding is that knowledgeis relevant at any age,so Betterhalf is a show that everybody should watch,” he adds.

As far as Akinlabi is concerned, couples and their counterparts in relationships should look out for honesty, openness and trustworthiness and not place so much premium on physical appearance as most currently do. “When I’m teaching at singles’ gatherings, I tell them that what they should look out for in potential life partners is honesty, openness and trustworthiness. Every relationship- whether in business, marriage or familyhas to be rooted in trust. When trust is taken out of a relationship, it becomes transactional and cannot be long-term because relationships can only be built with mutual trust. Everybody loves peace, but there’s only one way you can have peace if you are in a relationship with anyone, and that is trust.”

Betterhalf currently features on Youtube and already has an audience base numbering thousands across Africa.The BetterHalf series will be released twice a week (Tuesdays and Sundays). Season One of the show (comprising 13 episodes) has been completed and Season Two is anticipated to commence this quarter. Akinlabi says in the not-too-distant future, the show will air on national television and attract corporate support as a collective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative.

Meka Olowola, Managing Partner, Zenera Consulting, one of Nigeria’s leading branding and reputation management firms and sponsors of the launch, says: “Zenera Consulting has invested in supporting the scourge of drug abuse, rehabilitating sexually abused children and helping vulnerable and displaced children over the past few years as part of our social investment drive. However, we’ve realised that social vices have their roots in dysfunctional families. So the most proactive strategy is to lay the foundation for sustainable relationships that will breed individuals responsible to themselves and society; hence our sponsorship of the talk show.”

In the next five years, Akinlabi anticipates that Betterhalf will shape national life and consciousness. He says viewership is already gaining a lot of traction in the digital space both locally and internationally, and he anticipates the show will soon be a reference point in building sustainable relationships and spawn other value propositions that will benefit society at large.