Intelligent Frank Donga, Millionaire Comedians, Principled Toyin Aimakhu & Everything That Surprised Me At NECLIVE5

I don’t quite remember the first time I heard about the Nigerian Entertainment Conference. However, I remember badly wanting to attend last year but circumstances beyond my control (read as work) didn’t let me.

So, I was pretty excited to be attending this year’s edition even if I was going to spend a good part of my time there working.

My excitement was borne mainly out of curiosity.

I didn’t know what to expect. Will it be long sessions of boring talks about everything and nothing? All flash and no substance like almost all over-hyped talking shops in the entertainment industry? Or is it going to live up to the hype and set the ball rolling for conversations that will help the Nigerian (African) entertainment industry take up it’s rightful place in the global scene?

Whatever the case, I expected it to be boring for the most part. Conferences usually are – even if they have “entertainment” in their name. I’m interested enough in “Entertainment” to care about the flashy lifestyles, 2Baba’s babymamas and Genevieve Nnaji’s customized Birkin but I have little or no interest whatsoever in the business of entertainment which is what NEC is majorly about.

But I went anyway, and it was everything I didn’t expect it to be and so much more. I was not only enlightened, I was profoundly (and pleasantly) surprised by a couple of people and happenings.

Frank Donga is no airhead!

Nothing prepared me for the Donga I encountered at NEC. I could never have thought that the pink shirt-wearing Internet sensation could do anything more than “look for jobs” and drop comic gems on Twitter. But he is no airhead; Frank, real name, Kunle Idowu knows exactly what he’s doing with his ‘dumb’ act.  As he rightly pointed out at the conference, “advertisers are taking their products to where their consumers are – their mobile phones”.

Comedy is serious business! If you’ve ever ran into Woli Arole somewhere and asked him to crack a joke for you, you’re part of the problem. According to the Yoruba comedian, no one sees a banker on the road and asks him/her to count money for them, so why would you invariably do the same thing to a comedian?

Still on comedy…the A-list comedians are moneybags!


I mean I knew they weren’t doing badly but did you know they are actual moneybags? A couple of years back, these comedians made so much money that they were afraid to take it to the bank so they stored it in their bathtubs instead. Imagine bathing in a bathtub full of money, that’s like the ultimate life goal, no?

There’s a huge market out there for Nollywood. Amongst other things, I learnt that Nollywood is rapidly reclaiming the market form Hollywood and it came from someone who would actually know – John Ugbe, the MD of Multichoice. According to him, in 2016 alone, “the economic impact of investing in local content amounted to ₦1.1 billion.” I gasped at the figure, like who would’ve thought!

Toyin Abraham would never play some roles no matter how much she’s offered!

Toyin Abraham

Maybe this change came with the change of name from Aimakhu to Abraham or I totally misread her – another indication that you don’t judge a book by it’s cover – but I always saw Toyin as a little too brash, the kind of person who would do anything for the money or a headline. Apparently, that’s not who she is. Toyin is never going to take a role that is not children or women friendly, she’s never going to act nude or accept a role that doesn’t respect her culture no matter how much she’s offered. Well, so she said.

As a Nigerian, you can’t sing RnB more than R. Kelly! This nugget was courtesy of producer ID Cabasa who made a serious case for authenticity and staying true to oneself.

Kwam 1 gets more love than your favorite musician!

Matter of fact, he’s your favorite’s favorite. You see, I didn’t grow up with Fuji music or in a place where people really cared about it so imagine my surprise at the eruption of joy and standing ovation when the legendary musician was introduced. All through his session, people hung on to his every word and listened with more attention than I saw them do in the previous sessions. Amazing stuff!

I had my doubts going into the conference but, at the end of the day, I was thankful I didn’t miss it. And even though the only thing in my stomach was the free drink that was shared earlier in the day, I found myself already looking forward to #NECLIVE6.


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