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Interview: Why We Suspended The Youth Talent Awards In Nigeria - Godwin Nwaogwugwu (GeeCee)

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Click here to download the music of the Xvibez, winners of 2005 show

When the 'Youth Talent Awards' came to Nigeria 1n 2005 it set Owerri agog and raised the adrenaline of Nigerian youths. But after the 2005 event, there was no 2006 awards as promised. Many Nigerians were asking what happened to the show, and to the winners of the 2005 event. This is an exclusive interview with Mr, Godwin C. Nwaogwugwu, on various issues concerning the program that Nigerian youths want to know.

  • How he came to be revered by  Nigerian youths

  • What happened to 'TalentHouse Program' in USA

  • Why the 'Youth Talent Awards' was suspended in Nigeria

Exclusive Interview By Imoonline

Q: Sir, you are often described as a youth program development expert. What's your background with youths?

GeeCee: " I grew up in Nigeria and had my early education as well as my first degree in Nigeria. During my youth days I was very talented in music, and sports. I helped organize a youth cultural dance in my community at Mbaise that left a legacy for ten years keeping youths out of crime. At age 17, it's on record that I was the youngest Boy's Brigade captain in charge of the vibrant Boys' and Girls' Brigades 14th Enugu company, All Saints Anglican Church, GRA, Enugu. I was supervising lieutenants and officers old enough to be my parent as well as teaching teenage boys and girls my age. I wished you saw me then sitting in meetings with the late Archdeacon of Enugu West Diocese, Ven. Dr. C.A.E. Mbachu, the then Bishop of Enugu Diocese Dr. Otubelu. I also worked with notable chaplains like Dr. Cyril Okorocha (current Archbishop of Owerri diocese), Rev. Dr. Chike Nwizu, and   Rev. Dr. Chinedu Nebo (current Vice Chancellor of UNN)"

Q: Was that all you did in the youth industry?

GeeCee: "...No!..of course you probably know that I was a celebrated student leader holding various elective positions in the student union. At one time I became the National President of National Association of Imo State Students, NAISS, in 1990. I negotiated the first bursary award payment of N500 to all Imo State students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria by the Babangida's administration. I was always in heated negotiations with then military governors in Imo State over student welfare..."

Q: Which Governors...you mean the...?

GeeCee: "... I mean I served under three governors, you know they were changing them a lot then...I was NAISS' Director Of Socials during Amadi Ikwechegh's time,  Public Relations Officer of FUTO Student Union, National President of NAISS during Chief Evan Enwerem, and Gov. Ogugua's time. They made me the Chairman of Student Mobilization Committee when Prof Elochukwu  Amuchazi was MAMSER Director in Imo State, as well as a member of the Police-Student Public Relations Committee when Salomi was the state commissioner of police... I capped my student politics era when I became the National Secretary of the Anti Apartheid Movement of Nigeria, MAAN working directly with Dr. Nelson Mandela, Mr. George Nene (then ANC Chief Rep in West Africa), Prof Osita Eze.. many notable personalities...."

Q: Wao! How old where you during all this?

GeeCee: "I graduated from university at 22 so I was probably a teenager in most cases.. if I was born in a country like USA, I probably would have been the likes of Senator Obama or higher (laughs)"

Q: Why then did you leave for the United States after all this?

GeeCee:  "Well, I won a visa lottery. Honestly, I was reluctant to make the move. When I relocated to the USA in 1995, I had my fair share of the shock and realities in US. It wasn't funny for me considering that I was a hospital manager in Nigeria at the time of my relocation....had to wash dishes, reported to high school kids who were supervisors at 'Taco Bell' restaurant and so on. But I took the path of education and got a masters degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) from Strayer University. In 2000 I was hired as an Analyst at the World Bank HQ, Washington DC. So it paid off!"

Q: So how did you come up with the idea of the Youth Talent Awards in Nigeria...what made you think about the idea?

GeeCee: "I was appointed the Board Secretary of the prestigious World Bank Art Society in 2002. We organized art exhibitions featuring artists from all over the world. So I was making close contact with popular artists and musicians around the world. They influenced my love for art. Again in 2003 I was tapped to organize the first ever HIV-AIDS outreach campaign to the Washington DC public schools by the World Bank. I chose art competition as the medium. That piece of work exposed me to the great disparity between caucasian (white) kids, and their African-American (black) counterparts. In fact, one of the winners was a pregnant 11 year old African-American girl from Washington DC. It was a clear case of what could happen to youths if they lack opportunities. It brought back to mind my life as a kid at 'Ojuelegba' Yaba, Lagos..."

Q: You mean you lived at Ojuelegba round-about...?

GeeCee:" No,.. nobody lived at the round-about, it's a major road. My parents lived at one of the streets around there.... Anyway I started working with some of my friends and colleagues to start the 'TalentHouse Program' to help youth artists in developing countries gain exposure and realize their potentials..."

Q: That's true, what happened to the program....the website is down?

GeeCee: "It's a long story. TalentHouse became so popular that we were getting collaborations and  proposals from many organizations around the world for fashion shows,  talent shows, art exhibitions. But remember we also posted pictures of aspiring models to the website that attracted millions of hits around the world. Somebody conspired with our ISP provider (who unfortunately is an African too) and bought over the URL at it's expiration without notifying us for renewal. The guy wanted us to pay huge sum of money to keep the web address http://www.talenthouse.org. We couldn't afford that. If you visit that address now you can see it's not our program. It was a big sabotage of a program helping African kids...anyway"

Q: What about the Youth Talent Awards in Nigeria...what happened, it was a very popular event?

GeeCee: " We had a good but difficult event at Owerri in 2005. I was there myself to hand out the awards. The winners emerged. We were supposed to help them release their music as the prize. But when the time came they had no demo music. I gave them my personal money to record a demo, but they came back with only one track, and needed more money for more tracks. In Nigeria PMAN requires at least  7 tracks. I had already spent about N120,000 on the demo thing with nothing coming out. That's in addition to over N1million spent on the show and pre-show events. Moreover, the boys  (X-vibez) were graduating from university. So staying together as a group became an issue. Potential producers didn't see how they could stay together as a group and raised doubts. It was difficult getting a devoted experienced manager for them. Everybody got burnt-out along the process. But we helped them produce a demo"

Q: Did the project stop because of the 2005 event?

GeeCee: " Not at all...the boys were wonderful and highly talented. I would have loved to invest in them personally. But people around them, including those we engaged to assist them where not being devoted to them... they were students and didn't have time. Those we hired to help  kept sinking money in wrong places like DJ's  due to lack of experience rather than look for a producer, marketer.... you know things that make a music sell. I think the boys started getting fade up with the whole thing. I don't blame them, I  still play the demo we produced for the boys, it was a bang!..have you listened to it?"

Q: Yes! What a wasted opportunity..

GeeCee: " I advised the boys go solo but not as a group to be marketable. The whole award show opened my eyes to the effect 'get-rich-quick' syndrome already have on Nigerian youths.  Some of the youths who participated in the award show wanted money at all cost. We gave them trophies, certificates, and portable CD players shipped from USA each as gifts yet that was not enough. money! money!! money!! that's what you hear. Volunteers who were supposed to help wanted to be paid huge sums. In fact, the organizers lost interest with the way Nigerians do things..".

Q: So have you people given up or what?

GeeCee: Honestly, I was greatly discouraged. I helped put shows together in USA and elsewhere even the Miss Africa-USA pageant show. Youths elsewhere want recognition to boost their profile and resume, but Nigerian youths want money at all cost. It discourages people. Anyway we are exploring other programs to help the  right youths in Nigeria. But I promise you we have to be tougher this time around to weed-out wolves. Losing the TalentHouse website was a big blow, and major setback. However, we will do it again in a better way.

Q: Thanks for responding to our questions

GeeCee: "With all pleasure"

 

As Featured On Ezine Articles

Godwin C. Nwaogwugwu

A Syndicated Nigerian

 

 
 

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Results Of Previous Voting

 

Favorite Nigerian TalentHouse Model 2005?

Nkee (winner)

View All Models

 

 

Genevieve Nnaji VS Regina Askia, who is sexier?

Nnaji (38%)

Askia (62%)

 

Who is your favorite: P-Square  or 2-Face?

PSquare (42%)

2-Face (58%)

 
 

 

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Agbani Darego (Miss World )

Super Model Oluchi Onwegba

 

 

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Show Production Crew

 
(1). Mr. G . C. Nwaogwugwu - Chief Financier
(2). TalentHouse, USA - Producers
(3). Ms. Betterstill C. Chukwu - Marketing Coordinator
(4). Ms. Ada Okey (NTA, Owerri) - Show Presenter
(5). Mr. John Isiodu (NTA, Owerri) - Lead Choreographer/ Rehearsals
(6). Ms. Princess Chukwu - Judge
(7). Mrs. Nmachi (NTA, Owerri) - Rehearsals/ Judge
(8). Ms. Stella Nwokejiegbe - Fashion Show Trainer/ Coordinator
(9). Ms. KayCee Onyegbadue (Imo State University) - Fashion Show Commentator
(10). Ms. Ozodi Onyegbadue (Imo State University) - Fashion Show Commentator
(11). Mr. Ben (Ministry Of Arts And Culture) - Media jingles and Auditions
(12). Ms. Lilly - Auditions
(13). Ms. Linda - Auditions
(14). Mr. Victor Obasi/ Ms. Amaka Otisi/ Nnamdi Iroakazi - Pre Show Promotions/ Advertisements
(15). Ms. Rita Ibeka - Administrative Support/ Sales
(16). Ms. Joyce Unegbu (IBC, Owerri) - Pre-show Media support
(17). DJ Lee - Music Entertainment (Live Band, DJ, and Video)
(18). Mountain & Eze - Logistics and Support
(19). ExposureWorld Communications Services, Owerri - Ticket Sales/ Multimedia Development
(20). ImoOnline Project - Website Hosting/ Online voting