Considering Nigeria’s debilitating economic situation, lack of equity, and a troubled education sector, celebrated social media skit maker, Debo Adedayo, otherwise known as Mr. Macaroni has stated that if elected Nigeria’s president for a single term, he would push his weight behind those demanding improved education system, equity and constitution review with a view to positioning Nigeria for greatness.
The social media content creator insisted that this has become necessary considering the long years of frustration and near-system collapse that have become characteristic with Nigeria. For him if elected Nigeria’s president, the first step “will be education. People must be educated. A society that is not educated runs the risk of failure as we are currently in. It is this lack of education that our leaders from time immemorial have used as a weapon to seize and hold on to power all the time. Again, private universities should allow their students to go through the ultimate university learning experience. It is not the function of a university to train a child. It is not the duty of the university to train a student on morals.
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“Then you create an enabling environment for all. This is a society that creates a level playing ground for every citizen to succeed. Nobody has a monopoly of success in such society. I would also love to address our constitution. I cannot begin to make sure the irregularities that we have in the 1999 constitution. There must be a complete overhaul.”
Debo ‘Macaroni’ stated this while featuring on the internationally reputed Toyin Falola Interviews series held virtually on Sunday and put together by erudite scholar and professor of African history, Toyin Falola, with his operational base at the United States of America.
The Toyin Falola Interviews have been particularly tilted towards amplifying African voices with the intent to provide a deep pool of solutions to the many problems plaguing the African continent, on one hand, and also to celebrate Africa’s emerging successes. To do this, Professor Falola has featured notable presidents, accomplished captains of industries, renowned academics, policymakers, opinion moulders, along a broad spectrum of human diversity in Africa.
In this edition, the creative industry took centre stage as the panel of interviewers, led by Professor Falola, had Professor Ahmed Yerima, playwright, scholar, and university administrator; Dr. (Mrs.) Olufadekemi Adagbada, film and gender critic; and Yemi Shodimu, ace broadcaster, accomplished actor and movie producer.
Reacting to a wide range of issues, Mr Macaroni asserted that the need to make his craft more reflective and refractive of the society became pungent after Nigeria’s #EndSARS protest. He added that he also decided to go beyond mere humor so as to respond to more pressing issues in society.
According to him, “The basic raw materials that dramatists use in creating their art are gotten from society. The society cannot be burning and you don’t reflect in your drama that the society is burning. You are influenced by what you see and hear. The #EndSARS protest changed a lot of things for me. I must confess this. While I had always used my theatre background, the protest further strengthened me. I said ‘look, we have gone out there. But when you are not out there, what are you doing?’
“By God’s grace, I have the platform where millions of people come and watch me. For me, it is no longer the laughter that they get from my platform. It is about what they take away when they come to Mr Macaroni’s platform. It is very intentional. While people laugh and relax when watching my skits, they still have the society in their consciousness in knowing what is going on.
“Because drama is an imitation of life, there are some of my contents that won’t even involve advocacy; some are meant to primarily evoke humour. But I have been greatly influenced by the happenings in society. The killings in 2020 were the catalyst that changed me, my content and gave me another point of direction. I want people to remember me as someone whose works purged the minds of members of society, and in any way possible rejuvenate and transform our society for good.”
He added that female inclusion has become relevant to his work. For him, “When it comes to female inclusion in my work, I try to talk about rape and domestic violence. There was a particular content that I made called ‘Boxing Day’. It is on YouTube.
“We lost count of the feedbacks we received from women who actually left abusive relationships because of that content. I was very brutal with that content. I insisted that staying in an abusive relationship could lead to loss of lives. For these other points that you have raised, I think it is time we started looking at them. I believe that by God’s grace I will commit my art to exploring the other areas that you have mentioned.”
His father, Alao Adedayo who was in the audience, was celebrated when Mr Macaroni spoke of the older Adedayo’s influence in his life.
“As far as activism is concerned, my father’s writings, his stories, his personality helped me. As young as we were while growing up under him, we knew that my father had access to a lot of politicians.
“Many times we wondered why he would not make money despite knowing the big people in society.
“But because of the sacred profession that journalism is, integrity became important. This is one of the things that I took from him.
“Believe me when I say that I have had ridiculous offers from the high and the mighty. But because I learnt contentment from my father, you won’t find me bootlicking. My father was a broadcaster.
“In secondary, I was the head boy. But there was a time I was removed because I spoke up against what I knew to be wrong as perpetrated by some of our teachers.
“As far back as secondary school, my parents never discouraged me from fighting for what is right. My parents would make their findings and if they discovered that I was right, they would advise me to be careful,” he said.
Worried by youth participation in politics, he advocated a more stable country and better security apparatus. He called on the growing youth population to be more politically conscious just as he stated that he would continue to push for a better Nigeria that is productive and promises endless possibilities for its citizens.
Others in attendance included Professor Femi Osofisan; Alao Adedayo (father to Mr. Macaroni); theatre practitioners; university administrators; Professor Shettima of McArthur Foundation, Professor Tunde Babawale, Professor Ademola Dasylva, Professor Ebun Clark, Professor Pamela Smith, Professor Nuhu Yaqub, Professor Raphael Njoku, Dr. Chido Onumah, among many others. The session was streamed live on various social media platforms.
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