Tobi Bakre was the second runner-up in the just concluded Big Brother Naija Double Wahala reality television show. He was one of the most interesting housemates and in this exclusive interview with Ademola Olonilua he shares some of his experiences on the show
For me, I have always watched the Big Brother reality television show while growing up and it had always been somewhere I had dreamt to be. I had always seen myself as an interesting personality but I always felt that you needed to have the right connection or know people before you could get into the Big Brother house but this time around, it was an open audition. You did not even need to buy a form. All you needed to do was to get to the venue of the audition with your Nigerian passport. I got to the venue of the audition late on a Saturday and it rained on that day, so I had to return. The next day, I got to the venue as early as 5am and that was how the journey started. It’s a show I had always wanted to be a part of especially at this particular point in my life when I want to switch from the corporate life to entertainment. It just seemed like the perfect platform for me.
But you were working in a bank and later resigned because of the show. Didn’t you nurse any fears while making that decision?
For me, the corporate life has not been so lucrative and I have been on the same salary pay for about four years. I had not really had that job fulfilment because banking is a routine job. Based on my personality, it was not the kind of thing I enjoyed because I do not like a routine life. At the time, I had been frustrated with the corporate world, so it seemed like the opportunity came at the right time. I am still young and I felt that if things do not go as planned, I am just 23 years old, I have a good CV and I could still get another job that would pay me relatively well. I knew that to achieve greatness in life, you have to take risks and I needed to take that risk.
How did your parents feel when you took that decision?
My father was very concerned because he wondered why I would leave a paying job for something like Big Brother but he also knows my personality. I tried as much as possible to keep the job before I went for the show but it seemed quite impossible so I had to quit. Initially, I did not inform my father about my decision, I had to hide that fact from him but after I have got to this stage, I cannot go back to banking immediately.
When you said that you were 23 in the house, Nigerians did not believe you…
It is not surprising that they did not believe me. I feel that the reason they did not believe me is because of my accomplishments, not many people of my age have done what I have achieved in life. I graduated from school at18, I worked for about four years and within that time, I have also done my Chartered Financial Analyst level one qualification; it is a reputable finance qualification. I still have two more levels to go. To a lot of people, it is really hard to believe especially if they compare it with their life or other people’s standard. I have not always been the smartest kid but I have always been smart in my own way. I graduated from school with a Second Class Upper degree even though I was the youngest in my class. I come from a family where you are taught to be hard working. At that young age, I had some distractions but I knew that I could not attend the university without finishing without a very good result.
Did you ever believe that you would make it to the top five of the reality television show?
When I entered the house, I actually planned for the worst case scenario and that was to leave in a week or two. I compared myself with other contestants and felt I would leave within two weeks but I felt that it was a platform that within two week if you are able to sell yourself and potential you would still be okay. So I knew that even if I had a week to participate, I would try my best to sell myself so that when I come out, there would be something I can do in the outside world.
How did you feel when you made it to the final three of the game show?
I was so happy when I made it to the final three. I was very happy because I knew that at that stage, anyone of us could emerge as the winner. We did not know the amount of love people had for us outside the house. I particularly wanted people to love me and see the values that I had because I knew that whenever I left the house, that is what people would still love about me. Personally, I think that in the last Big Brother that held, people voted for the winner out of pity not because they really saw value or potential in the winner, that is just my personal opinion, I stand to be corrected. But as for me, I wanted to go to the house and let people love me to the extent that when I leave the house, I would be a mentor to other people based on my behaviour in the house. I wanted people to still want to know about the Tobi brand after the show and that was my driving force.
When you were asked to leave the house, were you disappointed in yourself for not winning the prize money?
At that point, I had already won. In fact, when I was part of the last five people in the house, I had already seen myself as a winner. So when I was asked to leave the house, my next question was, ‘who is going to take the money home?’ I felt that I could not go into that house, make N45m and not double the money by the end of the year. Right now, my goal is that by the end of the year, N25m should be the least amount I have in my account based on the platform. Not winning did not weigh me down; beside the person that won equally deserved to win.
For a long time, your love interest in the house was CeeCee, what did you see in her?
Going into a place and being stuck with about 20 people, you would get to know everybody on the surface level and later bond with some other people on a deeper level. Initially, when I was the head of house, she opted to stay with me and I chose her, we started talking and it was a very natural bond because we had genuine conversations. I felt that she was a smart girl and we could flow mentally which is something I find very attractive in a woman. But I think over time, we saw other parts of us we did not quite like, so we had our several fallouts. Now that the game show is over, I am hoping to have a better relationship because I think the house put some of us under a certain pressure and we did not act as we would normally do in reality.
How did you cope with the verbal abuse she subjected you to?
I was raised in a family where violence is never an option and I am also in a society where violence can never be an option. Personally, I do not believe in violence and I have learnt that in life, you should respect women because they go through a lot of emotions. Sometimes they do not have the full capacity to maintain or control their emotion; so with all that in mind, I was able to hold back. Honestly, there were times when we would get at each other and I would say a word but later regret it especially when I went to bed; I felt very bad. I know that there was a time I called her silly and when I went to bed at night, I felt very bad about it. That was a learning process for me because it taught me that no matter how angry I get, I should never react in a negative manner. Even when she was spitting fire at me, I would not want to say things to hurt her feelings because you don’t call your friends names. If I expressed my anger the way I was feeling, I would have said things that would hurt her and that is not what friends do; friends make excuses for each other and that is what I did in the house and it made it easier for me to cope with every other thing.
It took a long while before you kissed her but when it finally happened, what went through your mind?
I actually did not see us kissing because I felt she had a picture she wanted to paint to the world, so I never really expected a kiss despite the fact that we played around the house and it was almost as if we were flirting with each other. Even when she kissed me, I thought she was playing a game with me and this is me being honest. The kiss came to me as a surprise and for a few days, I was worried because I began to wonder what game she was playing. That was a situation I did not understand.
After you realised things were not working between you and CeeCee, you moved on to Alex….
I did not move on to Alex; neither was it a fast move. Within the first three weeks, CeeCee and I had a very good relationship but for another six weeks, we began to have issues but Alex and I had always been casual friends from the onset. When Leo left, we decided to talk a lot more and in the house, typically, you always had that one person you always confided in and both of us happened to be each other’s confidant. So we got closer and got to understand each other better. It was a case if us getting to know each other better and it was a gradual process. It was not until the last two weeks to the end of the show that we became very close and a week to the end of the show, we realised that we shared some feelings with each other. It did not happen instantly. It was a very gradual process. Three months is a long time for a lot of things to happen.
Are you and Alex in a relationship?
The truth is that we like each other but the Big Brother has presented us with a very big opportunity we could actually dilly dally with our relationship and work but this is not the best time for anybody to be in a relationship. Personally, I advised her that this is not the time to be in a relationship, it is a time to focus on your goals and everything you want to achieve in life. When you get to that comfort zone that you have achieved everything, you desire you can entertain a relationship. That was my advice to her. I told her that I like her and I am sure she likes me as well but we should maintain a cordial relationship at the moment and keep our friendship going as we achieve things both collectively and individually. When we get to a stage in our friendship where we feel that we have done well and we have grown together, then maybe we could be together. When we get there or if we ever get there, the world would know.
There was a time you came out of the pool and the structure of your manhood showed. It caused a frenzy on the internet, especially among the women. How have you been coping with them?
I was shown the video clip of that moment by a few people but I would not lie to you, I do not know how much love I have from the female folk because since I left the house, I have been working. For a very long while, I would be entrenched in my work so I do not think there would be time for me to entertain anything that resulted from that video clip or picture. I am just focused on attaining new goals.
Are you saying that you are not ready to be in a relationship?
Honestly, right now, a relationship is that last thing on my mind because that would demand my attention and time which I can put into other use. I have a timeline with this opportunity that has been presented to me. I am trying to build a brand that would never die regardless of what is happening because I know that with time, the need to see Tobi would fizzle out. So I need to milk it while it is here and make my face a constant feature. I have a lot of work to do. So a relationship is not on my plate.
When you saw your parents for the first time after the show what was the first thing they told you?
They told me that they are proud of me and my father called me his role model and that meant a lot to me. Not every man gets such words from his father. It was a great moment for me.