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Bayo Omoboriowo: Riding on the wings of photography to Aso Rock

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“When you are good at what you do, it would always speak for you”- Bayo Omoboriowo

Steve Martin once said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you”. Of all the paths that can take a man to high places in life, there is only one that seldom fails and this is the path of our gifting! Against popular belief, our gifts and passion and not our degrees, certificates or education are our ticket to high places in life. This piece was not written to relegate education to the background but rather to put it in the proper perspective. Education cannot substitute for your gift and vice versa.

The inspirational story of Bayo Omoboriowo, the personal photographer to the President of Nigeria and Chief Official photographer to the State House, is both intriguing and reflective. Though born without a silver spoon, he eventually carved a niche for himself in the world of photography. Bayo Omoboriowo is a freelance photographer and photo artiste with special interest in street and documentary photography. From hawking sachet water, also known as “pure water” at a market in the Mushin area of Lagos State to hobnobbing with the ‘high and mighty’ in the country, it is glaringly obvious that the Holy Bible did not over-bloat the place of our gift and passion when it was underlined in Proverbs 18:16 that “A man’s gift maketh room for him and bringeth him before great men”.

Born on May 13, 1987 into poverty in the suburb of Mushin in Lagos, no man will ever believe that the young man who hails from Ekiti State that now flies in the Presidential jet around the world has his own bitter share of life’s vagaries and vicissititudes. While so many professors, doctors, lawyers, Senators, Federal Ministers and even Governors will have to book several weeks and months ahead to see the President, Bayo has mysteriously become an indispensable companion to President Muhammadu Buhari! Myles Munroe once said, ‘’When you discover your gift, you find your area of authority in life”.

Some few years ago (June 7, 2015 to be precise) when President Muhammadu Buhari was supposed to visit Germany for a G7 Summit, a 20-man delegation was supposed to fly with the President to Germany. While great scrutiny was going on to see who and who will eventually make the list, Bayo’s name was already first on the list! Many Governors, Ministers and Special Advisers jostled for the 20 seats, but not Bayo, as it is known to everybody in Aso Rock that the President will not go anywhere without his personal photographer. Bayo Omoboriowo has become a prominent figure in Buhari’s travelling convoy and where the so-called bigwigs and cabals will have to consult ‘oracles’ and struggle to be on the president’s entourage, it is the opposite for Bayo, as it is always an easy ride for him. Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls”.

Bayo studied Pure and Applied Chemistry from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and graduated in 2009 with a 4.26 CGPA despite the overbearing and avalanche of challenges that he went through. For Bayo, his in-road to photography was not out of frustration or poor academic performance; it was simply because he was super passionate about the unspoken messages in the camera and using photography as a tool of communication.

He once said: “It wasn’t failure that made me choose photography. As a matter of fact, I have never applied for a white-collar job”. In his admonition and compelling message to the youths that are tirelessly looking for jobs that don’t even exist, Bayo said, “Discover your gift and your passion, key into it and start now. You don’t need capital to start, you just need few people who believe in your passion and would do anything to see it come to fruition”. The appalling trend among youths where they keep looking for jobs that only exist in the figment of their imagination must stop. Stop roaming the streets for jobs, look inward and create jobs with your gifts and passion!

His rise to stardom started in his undergraduate days at the University of Lagos where his skills were both honed and sharpened. His National Youth Service Programme (NYSC) in Port-Harcourt gave him another leap as he became the Rivers State NYSC official photographer and some of his photos were featured at the Niger Delta Fototales exhibition in 2010. His works have been featured on BellaNaija.com, Ynaija, ThisDay and in Y! Magazine amongst others.

He has also been a finalist at the Nigerian Professional Photography Awards 2011, second runner-up at the AAF-Etisalat Amateur Photography competition 2012 (which has metamorphose into 9 Mobile) and won first prize at the NACCP Climate Change photo contest in 2012. His major award came through when he won the Future Awards (2012), Nigeria’s most prestigious youth awards and platform, as the most creative artist of the year. He has also been opportune to photograph for organizations such as Leap Africa, FansConnect Online, MTN Nigeria, Dell Nigeria, LaMediafritiq, Alliance Francaise, and the Spanish Embassy. Others include Red Communications and Wamco Nigeria (makers of Peak Milk).

At this juncture, I will also like to caution youths that are fond of throwing educational opportunities to the winds because of their gifts and passion. We must always make a healthy blend of our education and our passion. Today, Bayo can proudly say that he didn’t go into photography out of frustration; rather he went into photography because of his undying passion! He has also given back to the society by training over 100 graduate and postgraduate students in the art of photography. Leo Bascaglia said, “Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God”.

Rev. Sam Adeyemi said, ‘’ You will only shine in the area of your gifting.’’ Education can never take the place of your gift; our individual gift is an indicator of our purpose and calling in life. Any education that does not teach us to discover, nurture and develop our gifting and uniqueness is a waste. Education will never make you wealthy; it will only provide a platform to express your gifts. Real wealth lies not in your educational qualifications; real wealth lies in your gift. Don’t ever give up on your gift, keep nurturing it, keep developing it even when people don’t believe in your gift; it is not your problem, it is theirs and sooner or later they will realise their folly and not yours.

Myles Munroe said, ‘’To know the right places for people, we must know their area of gifting”. As an entrepreneurship coach, I have come to realise that the easiest way to help unemployed youths is to help them find their area of gifting and passion. I have come to realise that the best of us is always within. Youths must take out time to diagnostically navigate within themselves to discover their area of gifting and core competencies. You can monetise that thing that you are so passionate about.

The futility of many recruitment processes has actually shown the level of unemployment in our country. Our individual gift is an indicator of our purpose and until we discover and nurture it, we will continue to travel another man’s journey. The Nigerian educational system has prepared us to get addicted to looking for casual jobs that we sometimes end up becoming casualties. Thus, the fate of the nation lies in the Nigerian youths discovering themselves and nurturing their gifts.

Marie Curie said, ‘‘We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained”. The amazing story of Bayo Omoboriowo is a pointer to the supremacy of our gifts and passion. We must pursue our passion and gifts, no matter how undaunting the grip of life’s challenges and odds. Bayo once said, “I have pursued success despite all odds. I remember hawking pure water when I was much younger and had to hide my face from my school mates who were being driven in their parents’ car. There were times I had nothing to eat”.

I am reaching out to the Nigerian youths to look inwards, to discover their gifts and talents. You are full of possibilities; stop attaching your destiny to the uncertainties of the Nigerian system. Discover your gift and ‘unleash’ it for maximum impact. Unlock your inner creativity, unlock your passion, and fire up your gift.



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