Q&A: TEDxBodija will drive the development underway in Ibadan – 'Femi Babalogbon

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Olufemi Babalogbon is the licensed organizer of TEDxBodija, an event that would hold on November 30 at the Heritage Mall in Ibadan. In this interview, he spoke extensively on TED, TEDx, TEDxBodija and the transformation of the ancient city. He stressed the need for the understanding of the principles of time and space.
What is TEDx, and how is it different from regular seminars?
TEDx is different from regular seminars. The format of speakers’ selection is similar. In TEDxToronto, they chose 6 speakers out of 1000 nominees; that’s why you have to anticipate this great event. We are also considering 500 nominations and we are still calling on Nigerians to nominate.
This is about the ordinary people sharing extraordinary stories; same people on the street and in the neighborhood. Things you’ve overlooked you are going to be learning them at TEDxBodija. Out of the 500 nominations that we’ve received, we will be choosing 6 speakers very soon and they will be announced on our pages – on ted.com, Facebook and Twitter.
You grew up in Ibadan. Comparing then and now, how has the city changed?
For me, when I was growing up in Ibadan, we used to have Bata as a manufacturing company that manufactured and sold rubber shoes. But how many companies do are manufacturing in Ibadan? The pace of growth decelerated within a period. But I’m seeing from 2013 there is acceleration. That is what we want to key into and drive the development that is currently underway.
Ibadan used to have the highest number of cinemas in Nigeria. At a time we had none but now we are having much more. We are also having malls and so on. There is development. We are having new roads and bridges. The bridges we had before were built by the military regime but now we have a civilian government building bridges.
Ibadan is a place to be for your business, it’s a place to settle down for your family. For me, I think it is development; the city is developing and I would like to be part of the development.
How would you compare Ibadan to other Nigerian cities?
Ibadan is a city with a lot of potentials that are not yet explored. Ibadan is the city for the future; it’s no more about Lagos and Abuja, Ibadan is a natural city of potentials. If you have anything to do for the future, you have to be in Ibadan.
What opportunities abound in Ibadan, and which sectors do you see as potential goldmines?
I will say agriculture and land mass that can accommodate lots of factories and companies. There are more than 9 million people in the city of Ibadan. Ibadan is experiencing evolution of the middle class and upper class which is telling us that premium products can sell faster in Ibadan. This shows that people now prefer first class services in Ibadan. For people with first class and premium services I think Ibadan is the place to do business.
Ibadan is the most peaceful city in the nation, no terrorism, robbery has been managed completely, no violence or acts of hooliganism again
. It is a place you are that your business will grow.
How can we address the social media rants that present Ibadan as a prehistoric city?
It’s about us in Ibadan representing Ibadan; it’s about building a better image for Ibadan. There are people in Ibadan that are doing greater things including the forthcoming TEDx conference.
We have to stop going to Lagos for conferences, let’s start having our conferences in Ibadan. The more we go to Abuja and Lagos, they will think you have nothing in Ibadan and that’s why you run there. Someone like me I’ve been to different parts of the country. I’m very sure Ibadan is still better than many of these cities. I think it has to be about young people.
I want my story that I was able to get the license of TEDxBodija to inspire young people that you can do something big. You can also bring a lot of international events to Ibadan – there is the social media week and others to Ibadan.
Let people come from across the nation to Ibadan. Let’s go mad and make a difference and people will know that Ibadan has changed. Let’s give a better picture of Ibadan. I think addressing the views lies in the hands of the youths of the city of Ibadan.
What is the projection of the number of participants at TEDxBodija?
Let me first say we need to do a lot of reorientation and publicity. Publicity in Ibadan is different from what we do in Lagos and Abuja. People need to know what TEDx is all about. I want to live a life of inspiring people, I want to challenge Nigerians, even the youths in Ibadan that they can do much more than people in Lagos and Abuja.
People need to come out of their shell, people don’t attend events in Ibadan; they don’t register for events online. They want free events, even for the free ones they won’t turn up. There is so much for us to do but we are optimistic point knowing that a lot of people are mobilizing on behalf of this programme.
TEDxBodija is not for one person, it’s for the whole of Ibadan.
There are lots of people in the media, businesses, schools that are trying to mobilize on behalf of TEDxBodija so we believe that we are going to have a lot of people at TEDxBodija.
We’ve been receiving a lot of applications and registrations online. We are receiving comments online especially via Facebook and Twitter. We are also looking forward to more people to enjoy this international event that will be held once in a year. I’m sure people don’t want to miss it.
Maybe you are in Monatan, Iyana Church, Apata, Mokola, Bodija, Beere, Oje, Felele, Molete, Oluyole, Ring Road, Odo Ona and other places, we are expecting you to register for this event.
The whole world is coming to Ibadan just because of you and you must not miss this great opportunity.
You’ve mentioned a lot of places, where is your favorite place in Ibadan? Where do you hang out more?
Before now, by place in Ibadan used to be Bodija but now it’s Dugbe. We have cinema, I enjoy coming to the cinema at least once in a week. I think it’s quite interesting and we should also appreciate companies like Splash FM, Beat FM and other private owned media houses in Ibadan. They’ve been able to paint a better image of Ibadan, also project the Ibadan brand and it is helping a lot. Now my favorite place is Dugbe at the mall.

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