Osinbajo Commends the Area Boy

Scenes from the Area Boy stage play

Vanessa Obioha

There was no way Oludolapo, the wife of the vice-president of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo was going to miss the stage play ‘Area Boy’. The play which was directed by Felix Okolo and performed by the Riveting Crew at the MTN led Anti Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP) National Conference recently brought to life the menaces of drug abuse experienced by young people.

Through the tears of a mother losing her child to drug abuse, to a daughter succumbing to the pressures of social acceptance in a clime shaped by the use of hard drugs that is constantly promoted by popular cultures, the actors took the stage with a bravura that reverberated through the audience, eliciting thunderous shouts and resounding claps from dignitaries like politician and businessman, Tonye Cole; wife of Kebbi State Governor, Hajia Zainab Bagudu, and Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (Rtd), who sat to view the stage performance for the very first time in the Congress Hall of Transcorp Hilton, Abuja.

For Osinbajo, it was a riveting play, one that helped her to assess current trends in the drug world through the eyes of young people. At the end of the viewing, she revealed how the play helped her navigate through her childhood whilst growing up in Lagos in the ‘80s and ‘90s when the drug culture was burgeoning but was not necessarily a thing of concern.

“I wanted to watch the drama to relive again the times that I spent working in the slums of Lagos among the area boys, prostitutes, the rejects, and the lost.”

The drama was so life-like that she could pinpoint aspects of her experience in the dramatic piece. “As the drama went on, I could identify some people that I knew so many years ago,” she explained as she went on to describe the characters from the show that resonated with her.

The tone set by the thespians was further heightened through musical performances by singer and anti-substance abuse advocate, David Jones David, who joined the ASAP initiative in June, in efforts to sensitise students of tertiary institutions on the dangers of drug abuse through music.

Performing songs like ‘Even Though’, ‘Hello Doctor’, ‘Gbana Na Bastard’, the singer was able to gain the attention of the audience through the song’s lyrics that had them singing in a call and response manner. The excitement from the audience of mostly young people was palpable.

The stage play is part of the ASAP initiative to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The initiative is set to visit Bauchi and Kano states this July.