Monday, December 20, 2010

For the Love of Fatherland: Nigerian Television Host Talks on Politics

Mo… For the love of fatherland

Sunday, 19 December 2010 00:00
NWAKUNOR Life Magazine - Young & Nigerian

THE sun was in its full reign. You could feel the intense heat, as it walked by in pride, saying, rather metaphorically, ‘though you don’t like me, there is nothing you can do about it.’ The cab that took me to Oko Awo Street, Victoria Island, breathed heat, though the air conditioner was on.

It was just an hour’s drive, but it seemed like a whole day. In the front seat, where I sat, I could see commuters circling madly about available vehicles at the bus stop, as the sun sank deeply into the earth.

At about 4.20pm, I was in the office of Mosunmola Abudu, popularly called Mo Abudu, for an interview that had staggered into months of wait.

As I sat in the office, my mind was filled with expectation. I had to admit it, after some few minutes of waiting for her, the reason for the delay gradually became obvious: 2011 General Elections. She’s so passionate about its success that a series — Moments with Mo, Election Specials — would begin to air on her popular programme.

These special editions have been designed as a tool of change and empowerment for Nigerians. It is independently produced with the key objective of giving Nigerians information that would enable them make informed decisions about their rights to free, fair and open electoral processes.

The interviews would be aired before the primary elections, during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Actual airing times will be advertised in the media as soon as they are confirmed.

Plans are already afoot so that African Independent Television (AIT) would broadcast the programme on its platform.

“I am a Nigerian, and like every one of us, I love my country and I want to see change. I’m itching to ask the questions that are on everybody else’s lips,” Mo retorts. There was an infectious aura around her, as she spoke.

Mo’s ability to do what she’s doing is more because of her confidence, grace, poise and attitude. She’s taken all these to the greatest height. And in a few years of doing her show, she has affected a lot of lives.

She says, “in our journey with Moments with Mo, The Debaters and Naija Diamonds, one thing is apparent about the Nigerians we engage with — they want a better Nigeria, free of corruption, improved security, constant electricity, an affordable healthcare system, rights to education and a brighter future for them and their families, and they realise that only a compassionate and committed leader with a clear vision and the right team in place can deliver such.”

Mo points out, “Inspire Africa appreciates and understands how powerful the tool of media is in changing attitudes and achieving change, and we have taken the bold step of conceptualising and looking for appropriate partners to produce Moments with Mo, Election Specials with.”

For a moment, she seemed to be searching for addition to what she was saying. There was silence. And it could be cut through with a sharp knife. Suddenly, she retorts: “The mass of Nigerians have relinquished their rights to choose by being passive about elections, and making a deliberate resolve not to get involved. There is an urgent need to create awareness and enlighten Nigerians on the danger in non-chalance. I truly believe that when Nigerians hear from their future leaders, not just from press releases, newspaper interviews and articles, but when they see and hear their leaders speak, they will at least have the opportunity of being able to make a better judgment call. Many Nigerians are unclear and unable to do that at present. I believe our leaders owe us this: they must engage us, they must speak to us, and they must tell us about their plans for Nigeria and the way forward. How will they do it differently? How will they take us to our proverbial promised land?”

Mo points out, “our overall key objectives are to showcase the list of presidential contenders as they emerge; awaken the consciousness in our people to the fact that their public opinion is important, and their votes make a difference; trail the 2011 elections, and focus on the individual parties and key players of the elections, highlighting their mandates, ideals, and value systems; give people an opportunity to make a legitimate choice by presenting them with the facts that will guide their decision making; above all, educate the mass public on the electoral process and their rights to free, fair and open elections.”

She continues, “we intend to give the public office aspirants a platform to reach the voting public and promote their candidacy.”

Mo adds, “in my interviews, the various aspirants will be given the opportunity to explain why they want to lead us, what changes we are to expect, how they will deliver, and how we can evaluate.”

IN the recent times, on the Moments with Mo platform, Mosunmola Abudu has interviewed a number of political and public figures including the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; former president of South Africa, F.W de Klerk; General Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria’s first military president; former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos; his predecessor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Professor Wole Soyinka, former Ghanaian president, John Kuffor and many others.

For the series, invitations were extended to a majority of the presidential aspirants and interviews were successfully conducted with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Major General Muhammadu Buhari and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu.

“We are still awaiting confirmations from some other aspirants, and we sincerely hope they will do the nation proud by coming forward to speak out,” she says. “This is the first series of the Election Specials, and once the primaries are concluded and the flag bearer of each political party has been identified, we will produce subsequent series, where we will engage them in another round of interviews.”

WHAT does she find most challenging about African leaders?

Mo shrugs. She switches on her laptop and begins to open the documents one-after-the-other. She says, “their recurring inability to keep their word. A man’s word should be his bond, and when a leader makes a categorical promise, we should be able to hold him accountable to it. If for any reason the goal post has to change or move, leaders owe it to their followers to communicate with them, and give them answers, instead of leaving them groping in the dark. It is the hallmark of integrity to give and keep your word. A leader that cannot keep his word has no integrity, does not leave a lasting positive legacy to inspire his followers, and is therefore not a true leader.”

Why is Mo so passionate about developing content that inspires the continent?

“That’s a big question.” She smiles. “To a large extent, majority of what the world knows about Africa are the things that the western media is propagating about Africa. The truth is the western media has done a pretty good job of developing content that doesn’t necessarily inspire Africa. If we want our stories told, as we would desire, we have to tell these stories ourselves. If we wait for the likes of CNN, and BBC, they’ll tell our stories the way they want to. If we want to see positive images of ourselves, we need to build content that will do that. The media is one of the most effective ways of achieving change in any society, and we want to create platforms that can engage our people and the continent, and that’s what we are so passionate about content that inspires.”

So what’s happening with day-to-day business besides the upcoming elections specials?

“Wow, where do I start? Obviously, for Moments with Mo, it’s been a long journey. We are in our third year, we’ve produced over 300 episodes, and we’ve told all sorts of stories that range from profiling great and celebrated individuals, raising awareness on core societal issues, to simply just being entertained by some of the best in the industry. We have a beautiful new set that was designed by John Baker from the UK. Along with our US-based director, Nnegest Likke, we also have a passionate and dedicated Nigerian team and crew that work hard to ensure Moments with Mo runs every season.”

She continues, “Moments with Mo is really all about finding new and interesting ways in engaging our audiences, and we’re able to let them experience all the different moments that exist — from happy to sad, amazing, and funny. Really, the show is full of a variety of moments, just as life is a mix of different moments, and it’s about sharing these moments with our viewers.”

She says, “we’re also rounding off another exciting season of The Debaters, thanks to GTBank, our principal sponsor. The Debaters is a powerful tool for grooming our future leaders, it proves that Nigeria is blessed with many upcoming leaders, and it portrays the potential of oratory as the power to change.

The new season of the programme airs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday on MNet West, and old episodes could be seen on Africa Magic. It also airs on NTA, TVC, and BenTV and Sky in the UK.

The last few episodes will be on Africa Magic (Saturdays at 8pm), Silverbird TV (Sunday at 9pm) and Channels Television (Mondays at 7pm).

BORN on September 11, 1964, in Hammersmith Hospital, London, to Mr. and Mrs. Akintunde. Mo was sent to stay with her grandparents on their cocoa farm in Ondo State, to learn about African culture, when her parents relocated to Nigeria.

At 11, she began schooling in the famous Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School. However, shortly after her father passed on, Mo returned to the UK and attended Hammersmith County Secondary School before moving to the Ridgeway School in Kent, where she lived with her guardian in Tunbridge Wells.

From there, she went to West Kent College and MidKent College. She has a Master’s degree in HR Management from the University of Westminster, London.

Mo started her career in the UK as a recruitment consultant in 1987, becoming a branch manager. She went on to work for the Starform Group, managing the Corporate Credit Management Exhibition from 1990 to 1992.

In 1993, she joined Arthur Andersen for Esso Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited (now ExxonMobil) to head their Human Resources and Training unit.

She left in 2000 to establish a privately owned specialist human resources development company known as Vic Lawrence & Associates Limited (popularly known as VLA).

She sashayed her way onto talkshow after a successful career as a Human Resources consultant. She says, “I believe that vision, hardwork and persistence will get you what you want. Strive to develop a positive can-do attitude, be good to the people you come across, and with God on your side, you’ll make it to the very top.”

She says, “for me, I see a challenge as an opportunity. No doubt they exist, but challenges and obstacles are put in our way to be overcome. If not, how do you become stronger, how do you learn, how you overcome. I face challenges every day, but what I do love is finding creative ways and solutions to overcome them. I have a knack for fixing things and I love to be busy. All my friends and most importantly my staff know me as a workaholic; my staff even call me a slave driver; behind my back, of course. But hey, I have always enjoyed the work I do, and I don’t see it as work, I see it as a labour of love.”

Mo says, “life has taught me many valuable lessons, but above all, I think the greatest lesson I’ve learnt is to never give up!”

When she is not working, which is not very often, she enjoys “reading, watching TV, traveling, listening to good music, and spending time with my family and friends.”

Secret of her beauty?

She says it is an inner spirit that is purged of all encumbrances.

Expect to see Mo more often on black dress, you wouldn’t catch her wearing leather trousers.

Her best travel destination?

“My favourite spots happen to be some of the most popular and sophisticated cities in the world: London, Paris, New York City, Cape Town, Spain and Johannesburg.”

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