Tobi Bakre was second runner up at the recently concluded Big Brother Naija and was quite a fan’s favourite, having won head of house competitions the most and also lit up the Saturday night parties. His relationship with Cee-C, Miracle, Alex, among others, also made him a trending topic while the show lasted. Now out in the real world, Tobi, in a chat with journalists recently, spoke about the happenings in the house and revealed his future plans. ROTIMI IGE brings excerpts.
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 weeks, if you are able to sell yourself and potentials, 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 the final three. I was very happy because I knew that at that stage, any one 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 was what people would think of me. Personally, I think that in the last Big Brother, people voted for the winner out of pity, not because they really saw value or potential in the winner, but that is just my personal opinion, I stand to be corrected. As for me, I wanted to go to the house and make people love me to the extent that when I left the house I would be a mentor to other people based on my behavior when in the house. I wanted people to still want to know about the Tobi brand after the show and that was my driving force.
What prompted your decision to be a part of Big Brother Naija Double Wahala show?
For me, I have always watched the Big Brother reality television show while growing up and it has always been somewhere I had dreamt to be. I have 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 round, it was an open audition. You did not even need to buy a form, all you need 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 the fixed date (Saturday) and it rained on that day so I had to return. The next day, I got to the venue as early as five a.m and that was how the journey started. It is 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 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, corporate life had not been so lucrative and I have been on the same salary for about four years. I had not really had job fulfillment 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 that time, I was frustrated with the corporate world I was in 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 still 23 years old. I have a good CV and I could still get another job that would pay me relatively well. I also knew that to achieve greatness in life, one has to take risks and I needed to take that risk.
When you revealed that you were 23 in the house, Nigerians did not believe you. Why would they feel you were lying?
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, at my age have done what I have achieved in life. I graduated from school at 18. I worked for about four years and within that time I finished 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 child 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.
For a long time your love interest in the house was Cee-C, 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 over time we saw other parts of us that 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 go 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.
Will it be right to say that your inability to cope with Cee-C made you switch to Alex?
I did not move on to Alex neither was it a fast move. Within the first three weeks Cee-C and I had a very good relationship but for another six weeks we began to have issues. However, 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 for 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.
What is your relationship status with Alex?
The truth is that we like each other but the Big Brother has presented us with a very big opportunity 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. 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.