Celebrity Journalist, Babs Adegbenjo (Babbi) Breaks Silence! | Says “Mum’s Death Turned My Life Around” + Untold Story of his runaway success in the UK

Babs Adegbenjo aka The Babbi the Cat with Nine Lives
Babs Adegbenjo can be described as the
proverbial cat with nine lives and this can only be confirmed from the story
you are to read about this Ibadan, Oyo state, south western Nigeria born media
guru of over two decades. In the last 5 years, not much has been heard about
Babs an effervescent personality who is generally known to be a Jolly good
Fellow. With Babbi, there was never
a dull moment hence, curiously, your Africa s number 1 Encounter Blog Asabeafrika went after this amiable
ex-Vintage People, ex-Hints Magazine, ex-City People, ex-FAME Weekly, ex-Global
Excellence and Publisher/CEO of the London based Crystals Magazine especially
following conflicting stories about the loveable gentleman, who was known to be
fun loving and a happy go fellow as to why he has suddenly went private and
silent.

Getting Babbi to open up to any media platform is the worst form of
adventure any journalist or blogger can come across. It is worse than sorting
water from the rock. It is as crazy as trying to seek free breadth in a deep
pool of water but our over six month journey paid off last Tuesday November 10
when Babbi added a year and
celebrated his birthday in the city of London . His Facebook page boomed with
greetings and well-wishes from far and near and so we seized the opportunity to
track him again for a chat by putting a call to him through Facebook Messenger
.At first, he nearly denied us again but for God grace which made him see the
reason to talk to us after turning us down for six months, he agreed to speak  after much persuasion and clarifying certain
private issues which he insist he would not discuss for personal reasons and
so, we agreed to play by his rule and here we are. Sit, relax and read the
inspirational story of Babs Adegbenjo
the cat with nine lives….only on your Africa’s number 1 Celebrity encounter
blog, Asabeafrika. Enjoy! 


(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Babbi @ World’s 6th best University, London School of Economics and Political Science

Sir, you had your
birthday on the 10th of November, can you tell us how you marked the
day. Was there a party?
(Laughs) No there was no party and there was nothing much to
it. First it was a week day and secondly I just turned only a year older. I
prayed, worked, read a bit and had dinner in the evening with few special
people in my life. That was all. Secondly, I am not a party freak, I don’t like
parties, though I sometime do host modest events when necessary and that is the
honest truth about me.
(Cuts in) But you were
one of Nigeria’s most successful Society writers in your hey days .You were
always seen at high profile parties and events, so how come you saying you
aren’t a party freak?
You are very correct but that is where it ends. The parties I
used to attend in those days were strictly because of my work as a society
writer. For me, attending parties was more of work. I wrote about famous people
and that was why. That saw me covering parties of the high and mighty, from the
Babangidas, Abachas,Folawiyos, Awolowos,Okoyas,the Ibrus,Igbenedion and
the Odogwus of this world. I think
that really got boring to me at some point. I began to think that I could do
better with my brain than just writing about Champagnes and glamour , or about
whose wedding gown was more expensive or 
who’ s got the latest Bentley. However, it is understandable if many use
that experience to conclude that I must be a go-go fellow or a party animal,
but I’m very far from that. 
 Gbenga, would you believe that in the last five years, I‘d only
attended three parties? One was the 50thbirthday party of my boss,
brother and mentor; Mr. Mayor Akinpelu
in Lagos-Nigeria in April 2010, the second was actually my own party which was
the burial of my dad in Ibadan in 2012 while the last one was the wedding
ceremony of a relation in Barking here in the UK.
That is to show you the real me, outside media. I don’t miss
parties, I have attended too many, especially due to my work as publisher of a Celebrity News Magazine ,as  Society Editor and Deputy editor at FAME
magazine and other outfits where I had worked. Today, inviting me to a party is
like placing a very heavy burden on me. I can’t continue that way as I was not
brought up that way.

“I grew up in a home where dad would
drive us to school with his Peugeot 504
on his way to work while our Mum would pick us in the afternoon with her Peugeot 404 pick -up or sometimes dropped and picked up by the driver”

Babs Adegbenjo to Asabeafrika…’My Dad inspired my book reading habit from age 10′

That is quite
surprising; can we say Babs Adegbenjo is an introvert?
I am not an introvert. Very far from that.  I love life and those who know me know that I
am always lively and jovial, but yet a very private person. I am not that guy
that brings in every Tom, Dick and Harry to his home. No! To come to my house,
either in Lagos or UK, we must be very close. I have learnt a lot, and I do not
go about visiting friends at home like most people do. I visit only close
friends. This might not be the best, but that is just who I am and how I was
raised.
 However, I do unwind
and catch up with friends. We go out to bars, lounges or at sports clubs .I go
to Cinemas occasionally and dine out at choice restaurants but the best place
to chill for me is my home, and that is why I always make my home very
comfortable because I am a very homely person and it baffles me seeing how
restless some people can be, and I wonder if they don’t love their homes or
something and I had been like that even since my days as a society writer. When
not at work, I love being home or just hang out.
What influenced your
sense of living?
I was brought up in a Seventh
Day Adventist
family and that really helped to shape my thinking and modest
lifestyle from childhood.

Babs Adegbenjo aka Babbi breaks Silence for Asabeafrika

What was growing up
like for you?
My parent had 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls) and I am the 4th
child. In our household we attended Alafia Nursery and Primary School,
which was one of the best in Ibadan at that time. I grew up in a home where dad
would drive us to school with his Peugeot 504 on his way to work while
our Mum would pick us in the afternoon with her Peugeot 404 pick
-up
or sometimes dropped and picked up by the driver. Once we got home,
there was absolutely no room for roaming the streets as we would resume at
mum’s shop downstairs where we would do our homework while she was at her other
shops. However as a rule for us, my Dad made it mandatory every night in those
days for us to watch NTA News at 9pm
and then for us, it was always like a kind of punishment, as typically we would
have preferred to watch our Theatre Yoruba’ or Kootu- Asipa’ ,by
Late  Oyin Adejobi, Dramas by Moses
Olaiya
(Baba Sala), Ajimajasan ( Ola Omonitan) Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irumole ,the famous book by D.O Fagunwa and  adapted on Television then by Late Duro Ladipo or soaps like Cock Crow at Dawn, Why Worry where Akin Lewis
played a lead role,  or Wale Ogunyemi’s Bello ‘s Way which was written by Uncle Wole Oyelese or Laolu
Oguniyi ‘s
Winds Against My Soul  though not all of these were shown at nights,
and very much later Arelu by Jimoh Aliyu produced by Yemi
Farounbi’s
Labs Deroy Center. For us then, we also enjoyed watching Lere Paimo’ s Ogbori Elemosho,and Ishola Ogunshola’ s dramas such as the
popular Iyawo Alalubosa’ and ‘Aja lo leru then.. At weekends we would be taken to Kingsway’s at Dugbe or Leventis
in Mokola mostly on our ways back from church on Saturdays, remember it was an
Adventist home. It was really fun in those days’ .Good old memories, not this
age of social media and 247 games.

“He had two Master’s degrees and was
always reading till he died. He had a library in the house. When I celebrated
my 10th birthday as a kid, my present from him was’ The Complete Work of Williams
Shakespeare’
. It was a voluminous book with all the literary works of Williams Shakespeare .Can you imagine
that type of present for a 10 year old?”
.

You mentioned earlier
that you do read .What influence that?
First I will say my Dad because he loved reading and he
instilled that in me. He had two Master’s degrees and was always reading till
he died. He had a library in the house. When I celebrated my 10th
birthday as a kid, my present from him was
The Complete Work of Williams Shakespeare’
. It was a voluminous book with
all the literary works of Williams
Shakespeare
.Can you imagine that type of present for a 10 year old? For my
11th year birthday, he gave me a book, the auto biography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and when I
clocked 12 my birthday present was a book called “Aminu Kano: The African Revolutionary” and that went on and on
and  on my 15th year birthday,
it was yet another book, ‘The Biography
of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana’
.

Babs Adegbenjo with Leadership Lecturer @ University of East London, Dr. Sue

Would you say reading
of those books influenced your decision to become a journalist later in life?
Certainly it did, and beyond that, I think reading about
great people like Obafemi Awolowo,
Aminu Kano,Kwame Nkrumah and the
rest fueled my interest in leadership. These people had different styles and I
saw the challenges of each and how they overcame and went on to becoming great
in life.
However, I lost track about reading and interest in education
at a time, especially due to work and lifestyle of a society writer. It was
impossible for me, though for some, they could cope, but I thank God, I’m back
to my reading habit and studying. These days, hardly will you find me without a
book.
What kind of books do you read?
I read all sorts of books. I read on Policy and welfare and I
read inspirational books a lot. For instance, some of my best authors are Napoleon Hill and Bob Proctor.I have read some of Bob Proctor books such as “You were Born Rich “and Napoleon Hill’s
“Think and Grow Rich” and “How to sell your way through life” with
Donald Trump University‘s Real Estate 101: Building Wealth With Real Estate
Investments
by Gary Eldred over and over among other books. These are simple
but very great and valuable books among the lot.
Apart from reading of great books, is there any other
situation of life that has changed your perception
?
I think my mum’s death in 2009 changed my perception of life
and it is one of the main reasons responsible for my 360 degree re-discovery of
myself. It was a turnaround completely. You see, I was very close to my mum
while alive; she was like everything to me. Her death made me realize that life
is vanity, and that life is short, hence, do not leave whatever you can do
today till tomorrow. Thirdly it made me see the rot in the Nigerian health
system clearer. While alive, my mum did practically everything for me including
helping me in building of my very first property in Lagos. She did not only do
a good job, but also got the street in my name.
What do you mean by rot in our health system?
My mum had diabetes and had only fever and that was it. She
was only ill for a few days with series of test done, but she died at one of
the best hospitals in the state. Since then I have been asking questions about
diabetes and how it can kill so suddenly, but I found out many just like my mum
don’t even know if their diabetes is Type 1 or Type 2. So if you don’t know
this basic fact, how do you manage your condition? Or if its hypo or hyper. When
I ask people in Nigeria, what type they have most of them don’t even know,
including educated individuals. So there should be better awareness about
conditions like this and also educating the patient more on how to manage it,
than just telling them about change of lifestyle and diet alone, but deeper
information.
It is sad to see how the hospitals are filled with patients
who queue up only for simple test such as blood sugar level, while there are
simple, portable and cheap machines they can put in their bags and test
themselves regularly with daily.

The Babbi as a World Class Graduate

What is the different
between Hypo and Hyper?
For instance if a patient is hypo, that means the person’s
insulin level is low and such a patient 
needs a bit of sugar consumption like taking glucose or Chocolate.  But if it is hyper; that means it is high,
and shouldn’t take sugary stuffs.

“A fool will always remain a fool.
One thing I have learnt in life is to be real and never to pretend to be what
you are not. Be real. Integrity is a very important quality that we were taught
at LSE. Your yes must be yes and no must be no”

So, how did you know
all these?
Thank you, like I said, my mum’s death opened my eyes to so
many things especially in healthcare, coupled with my experience in the sector.
I am not a clinician and you don’t have to be one to know. It’s all about
seeking knowledge. These are basic facts everyone should know.
At what point did you then decide to go back to school in UK?
You see in life, assess yourself .Like when you stand in
front of the mirror, you see yourself and tell yourself the basic truth. I got
to a stage that I was no longer comfortable with just stopping and ending with
just a diploma in journalism. I felt with all my intellect, I could do more
.For several years, I had tried doing this, but it wasn’t easy for me combining
work or business with schooling, so in 2010, about 18 years after I left the
Nigerian Institute of Journalism, where I was the Student Union president
1991/92, I decided to take the bold step to return to school.
So which school and did you go to study more about media?
After my mum’s death and not wanting to wait without studying
till my university admission gets through, I first enrolled for the Chartered
Institute of Housing (CIH) program at Lewisham
College
for 18 weeks, and it was towards the end of this course that I got
admission to the University of East
London
.I chose not to study any media course for the simple fact that I
wanted something different from what I had been doing all my life. I wanted
diversification and wanted to explore new terrains and I chose to do a course
which will not only be beneficial to me alone, to my people at large in the
area of health and welfare. A course where I can positively make a change and
that was how after so much research I came across the B.sc Health Services
Management programme at UEL. I fell in love with it immediately and also having
been recommended for me by an Uncle who was a Consultant to one of the state
owned healthcare facilities in Nigeria I just went for the course.

The Babbi with a Classmate on Graduation Day @ University of East London

What is the concept of
Health Services Management?
To a layman, it is another Health care course or career or
how to run a hospital, but it is far much more than that. It is broad and
depends on how one wants to apply it and at what level. But that is not the
case. Health Care Services Management is about effective management of
resources and how to achieve high standard service delivery in the sector. How
best you can manage the available resources you have and yet getting the best
result. For instance, if a state has a budget of 2 billion naira for health, how best can they utilize it? Which
service or areas gets what and why? Don’t forget, health is broad .It covers
primary health care, state owned facilities, mental health services, Drugs and
alcohol and rehabilitation centers, and can also be applied to environmental
management, waste and pollution etc, Emergency services and social services.
Apart from government, there are international organizations
such as the WHO, United Nations and several NGOs making use of consultants of
project managers from the field.
So at what point did you move to the London School of
Economics?
I graduated from the University
of East London
with a First class Hons. My initial plan was to stop but
something propelled me to go further in my studies. Having studied Health
Services Management which is about how to effectively manage resources and
budget in the health sector, and how to run effective service with the best
service delivery, service quality and how to redesign or transform a non-
performing service or in fact how to create a completely new service to address
a particular issue, it therefore became important to also have a deep
understanding of how policies are formulated, planned and implemented.
As a result, for my Master’s programme, I decided to take the
MSC Social Policy and Planning programme at the prestigious London
School of Economics and Political Science. (LSE)
What do you think are the biggest problems in the Nigerian
Health sector?
Well, if you look at the health sector in Nigeria, the
challenge is not really funding, unlike other countries faced with funding problems.
If you look at the budget of most State governments and even the Federal
government, health is usually within the top five sectors with the highest
allocation, yet the impact of the billions spent is not felt by the citizenry.
Our own challenge are many, first, corruption and bad management, secondly,
lack of clear purpose and policies, thirdly, misplaced priorities, and lack of
training and non-motivation of health professionals. You see, Doctors and
health workers going on strike being owed salaries or not well remunerated.
These are just few of the problems.
Why did you choose LSE because we have heard names of many
great Africans like Otunba Subomi Balogun who attended LSE?
First I thank God for giving me the privilege to attend the
LSE. It’s been a school I had loved over the years while I met and read about
outstanding people. A lot of great men and women have attended this school
.Just as you have rightly said, Otunba Subomi Balogun attended the
school;  he read law while his son,
Bolaji
studied Economics there as well. Human Rights lawyer, Olisa Agbakoba SAN, and former National Party of
Nigeria (NPN) chairman, Chief Adisa Akinloye
to mention a few. Former Labor
Leader here in the UK, Ed Miliband
also had his masters there.
Secondly, the school is one of the best schools in the UK,
added with that is the fact that  the
school’s Social Policy Department 
is  one of the best in the world
while the Social Science Department is ranked second best in the world
.According to the latest QS World University Rankings 2015/16, LSE has ranked
ahead of Oxford and Cambridge and just behind Harvard in its ‘social sciences while
the latest overall rankings  rated LSE as
the sixth best university in the world for employer reputation and the seventh
best University  for the size of its
international student .It’s such a great school with very high  standards.
Though expensive, but it’s such an investment worth the while
and a lifetime opportunity for anyone.
At a time there was noise about you going into politics in
Oyo state; do you still nurse that ambition?
My focus right now is in international development. I
presently work in the UK on projects in the field of healthcare and social
policy. I am very passionate with the improvement of the Health Systems in
Africa, Poverty alleviation and how we can also have good social policy
initiatives in Nigeria which will guarantee better living for all. The
inequalities in our society must be addressed and to achieve these, one does
not necessarily need to be a politician. Our thinking must change that we can
all contribute our quota with contesting elections. All over the world, there
are NGOs touching lives, while there are companies also helping out by bringing
multi nationals and international organizations to help our communities and the
poor. Efforts like these will therefore complement that of the government, so
we can make changes without being in government or in politics. However, that
does not mean I won’t participate in politics. We are all political animals; maybe
at the right time, but not desperate.

Babbi @ University of East London

Why I rested Crystal
Magazine
Let’s talk about Crystal magazine. Any plans to continue the
publication as it really made so much waves at a time?
Well for now the answer is no, I want to concentrate on other
areas. I decided to suspend publishing so as to allow me acquire knowledge. I realized
I wasn’t well equipped enough to face the challenges of the future. I knew
little or nothing in the areas I have mentioned earlier to you. Today I know a
lot in the areas of poverty alienation, education policy, health, social
policy, international development and empowerment, and I am still constantly
learning. Besides that, I also have my hands in other aspects, one of which is
real estates.
Because, I know your blog is reputable, I will share this
with you; in 2006; my foray into real estate began when I met Oba Dayo Shylon,the Oba of Agbado. Through him, I got 15 plots of land in Ajah,(two and half acres) of swampy land. We sand filled the land
and later re sold. That project, called Buckingham
Gardens was the beginning of my
journey into property business, which I had been doing quietly without noise. I
had since acquired and done other projects thereafter, even though, I also got
my fingers burnt on some. Today, we thank God; each project or experience comes
with its own challenges and lessons. I had bought parcels of land which turned
out to fall in government acquired areas(Acquisitions) You can imagine buying a
piece of land in Lekki and then after discovering it was government acquired areas,
and then being offered Ofada or Sango Otta as
compensation. Isn’t that terrible? That has actually happened to me before, but
rather than being discouraged, I became more determined and thank God, my
present project, nearing completion is also on that axis. It’s a small
commercial project but I am very excited about it. It’s not by might. It’s by
grace and calculated risks and focus. So let anyone say what they like. The end
they say justifies the means
With all your achievements in Europe, why have you remained
so silent and elusive in the last 5 years despite the noise about you in
certain quarters?
Gbenga, empty barrels make the loudest
noise. I do not need to respond to everything anyone says. People are entitled
to their opinions and you do not need to try change opinions of foolish and
biased people. A fool will always remain a fool. One thing I have learnt in
life is to be real and never to pretend to be what you are not. Be real.
Integrity is a very important quality that we were taught at LSE. Your yes must
be yes and no must be no. Humility is also very important in one’s life and
this I learnt early in life.  My focus is
where I am going and what I am working on or doing does not need any publicity.
I have grown and much matured .I am today more closer to God, wiser and much
more educated and experienced. I have been betrayed by many, hence my decision
to keep some friends at distance even though I have forgiven all that offended
me, and while I am always quick to apologize to anyone I could have offended
too. Life is too short.
Who are your mentors?
In the media, Mr.
Mayor Akinpelu
and Mr. Muyiwa
Adetiba
; I love and learnt a lot from these two men and I will always be
grateful to them for believing in me too. Aside these two, I have also worked
with great men that I will always appreciate such as Mr. Kayode Ajala gave me a job at Hints Magazine, Mr. Niyi Akinsiju, Mr Gboyega
Okegbenro
, Alhaji Billy Adedamola
and Mr. Muka Popoola,Mr Dayo Olomu  and my good boss ,Yinka Oyekan for their support and love over the years.
(Read Part 2 of the Babs
Adegbenjo’s
exclusive from London titled “Day I broke Kola Abiola’s
Heart”
on Asabeafrika tomorrow hot & Sizzling)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here