Ondo Social Hangout is an annual event that holds at the end of the year. Its 5th edition is scheduled for the 5th of December, 2021. In this interview with Israel Fagbemigun of Nigerian Cable news online, the convener, Mr OlaOlu Adedayo, popularly known as Ogbeni LA, hinted that the event would distinguish 100 Personalities of Ondo state Origin for recognition because of their influential status in line with the theme of this year’s edition of the event.
We reliably gathered that you have an event coming up by December; tell us about it.
The event is the Ondo Social Hangout, last year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to observe social distancing, we had a virtual edition, but we shall be holding the 5th edition physically this year and it is themed “Do Am if e Easy”.
Can you help us understand the idea behind the event, its scope, when and how it started?
Ondo Social Hangout holds every December since the first edition was held in 2017. It is an idea inspired by my friend Olumide GlowVille, the convener of Lagos Hangout, which began in 2016. The idea was to gather social media friends living in a particular geographical location for an offline get-together at the end of the year. Like all good initiatives, it has evolved over the years to mean more than gathering social media friends for fun. You’d agree with me that the youths are a strategic demography in Ondo state or anywhere in Nigeria as a whole. As the convener, with my background in unionism, I realised we could also use our numbers to address social concerns facing the Nigerian youths in the global scheme of things. Therefore since the second edition, we’ve tried to steer the direction of the event in a way we can redesign the social lens with which the average youth sees themselves, and this reflects in our yearly themes.
This year’s theme, “Do Am if E Easy” is to celebrate every youth struggling out there who feel they haven’t done enough. We are effectively saying they are trying, and whoever thinks otherwise should walk in their shoes and ‘do am if e easy’. The world has become a global village through social media, and it is not uncommon to find a child born in Ikare to parents who are owed six months salary arrears, comparing himself with his peers born in Southampton to parents who have never struggled with what to eat and wear. Comparison is valid; after all, a child is a child universally, but if the nuances involved are not considered, such comparison breeds depression, which is what is happening on social media right now. ‘Do am if e easy’ is to acknowledge our disadvantages and celebrate our small wins nevertheless. Let me also chip in that the event has been without any cost to participants in the last five years, even though we have no major sponsor. So far, we’ve attracted a former Governor of the state, a former federal lawmaker, and the first androgynous model in the country as guest speakers.
We learnt you’ve shortlisted some individuals for recognition and honour; give us a sneak peek into the criteria for selection and the people you have chosen?
In line with the theme, we have decided to publish a list of the 100 most influential people in Ondo state this year. It is in tandem with our theme, Do Am if e Easy because it takes a lot of courage to do things that make people influential and we hope the list would encourage the youths. We understand that money and political strength plays perhaps the strongest influential role in the state and country at large, but we don’t want our list populated by only the high and mighty, while in fact, their influence may not be felt by the ordinary youth in the street. So what we’ve done as organisers is to evolve a structure that’d produce a versatile list. We achieved this by selecting nine anonymous judges of impeccable character, drawn from the three senatorial districts in the state, to come up with their list cutting across categories like academia, governance, entertainment, philanthropy etc. We now carefully sieve through the list to come up with the 100 most commonly appeared names. Now, we have an interesting list that contains father and son, like Arakunrin Akeredolu and Babajide, or siblings like Dr Olusegun and Prof Femi Mimiko. We have others who are not so well known but whose influence is felt among the youths, like Odunayo, who represented Nigeria as a wrestler in the last Olympics and a Lawma (Lagos Waste Management Authority) official who became an internet sensation for the passion he brings to his job, rain or sunshine. It is an interesting list, and it’d be uploaded on our website before the event on the 5th of December, 2021.
How is the event expected to contribute to societal development?
The event will continue to challenge societal norms that have become obsolete and irrelevant to our development as youths. I suppose, as the convener, this reflects my personal values. While we’d leave other institutions to tackle unemployment and other important challenges bedevilling us as youths, Ondo Social Hangout remains steadfast in changing archaic mindsets that pull youths backwards. We believe that without changing the mindset, ‘you can’t change anything’. So we complement the efforts of other similar initiatives and are open to collaboration with private organisations as well as the State government.