Keeping Up With Big Brother’s Vina!

Malvina Longpet gained instant fame on the last edition of the reality TV show, Big Brother, after making the final seven in the house. BOBOYE ONDUKU, tells the full story of a day’s encounter with this new celebrity.

9:57 am

After putting a call to Vina, I arrive at Kiss FM premises at Wuse, Abuja. The security officer at the gate is not welcoming: “Dem dey for meeting,” he retorts. In bewilderment and with slight annoyance, I let him know that I’m on appointment. He grudgingly puts a call through and allows me in. I make another call to inform her of my arrival as I make my way to the reception. As I take a right turn from the gate, I come face-to-face with Vina.

9:58 am

The Black Barbie (Vina) that walks up to me and gives me a hug is not the stout one I had seen on the plasma TV screens. She is a cutie devoid of all the extra flesh that the screens had put on her. The introductions were quick: “Guys, this is Boboye from Leadership. Boboye, please meet Tom, Tersoo and Jenevieve; they are here for a photo shoot. Winnie is part of my team for the day.”

10:04 am

Vina shows me around the radio station’s premises. It was a quick tour, too, that had some more introductions. We met the Breakfast Show’s crew of Charles and Jennifer. Vina was the co-anchor of the show with Jennifer before she went into the BBA house. She excuses herself and goes off for her first change of dress for the photo shoot. Before that she had also taken us to the production studios and informed us that renovation works were in progress. The white patches of paint on the walls told us more.

10:41 am

First photo shoot session: Vina appears in a stunning white monostrap gown with some heels, too. Tom, Tersoo and Jenevieve were clicking their cameras in minutes. I had been assimilating what Ifeyinwa at the reception desk had told me about Vina. She watched Vina on the Big Brother show before meeting her in person at the office. But that’s a story for some other day. This session was done outdoors and it also involved a change of shoes at one point. Winnie helped out with the change of scenes in this stand-up session.

10:47 am

Vina appears for the second photo shoot session with some worries. Karen had put some spanner in the wheels of the welcome party Vina’s employees were putting together. Typical of Karen, she had her own ideas on the amount of time she would spend at the party. Vina’s expressions tell it all and she vanishes into one office to sort it out with the organisers. Some minutes later, Chike Williams, the chief organiser, calms frayed nerves as he announces that the situation had been sorted out with Karen.

10:52 am

The second photo shoot session kicks off. It’s a sitting session in the reception/lounge of the radio station. Vina is told to sit on the lounge chair and Winnie offers some tips while Tom checks for the best pose. Jenevieve and Tersoo are not left out. It’s a short form-fitting black dress with sleeves that Vina puts on for this session. As she poses for the shots with legs outstretched at the top of the couch, the white heeled shoes also add colour to her form.

10:59 am
Chike brings a huge roar to the session when he attempts to put Vina on the edge. “I’ll get Adam on you,” she tells him, and there is more laughter in the lounge. This session is a longer one as every person around attempts to get a snapshot with Vina. Ifeyinwa and Jenevieve are not left out.

10:57 am

I veer off to talk with Arafat Aliu, the acting station manager and Vina’s boss, as the never-ending second session goes on. He speaks of the challenges everyone has to overcome in life, and reveals Vina has sold the brand of the house by her appearance on the show. Aliu who is also the spokesperson of the Dream Team (Nigeria’s Under-23 team) then points me to Chike when I inquire on the reasons for the welcome party. Chike tells me it’s a platform for fans of both contestants in Abuja to meet them and share memories.

11:23 am
I make my way back to the lounge only to see Vina walking off in a turquoise gown. I had missed a whole third photo shoot session. Well…

11:32 am
Final photo session. Vina appears as the girl next door with flat rubber shoes, blue jeans pants and purple T-shirt with ‘Hanni’ inscribed boldly behind it. Hanni was her good friend on the Big Brother Amplified show. Winnie also gets into the mode as she appears with a blue sleeveless blouse. The production studio is the scene of this session of photos. It’s a hip hop session as Vina get’s behind the microphone and reels out good music. Tom and I are soon jumping on our feet as tired limbs and minds begin to look for some fun. Fake smiles, huge laughter with some sexy looks spice the session. Winnie, Genevieve, Tersoo and I gather for a shot with Vina and Tom has to do us the honour of taking the photo shot.

12:00 pm
My phone beeps. It’s a text message from Ama, the intern who was supposed to be doing the interview with me. The ‘NTA news’ message alerts excites Vina: “I want that ringtone,” she says, “a friend has been asking me for it.” I try to find the file location of the alert in my phone but can’t seem to get my hands on it. I give up almost immediately. “I am hungry!” Vina screams and the session is off.

12:11 pm
Vina’s offer of lunch for all at Jevinik was roundly welcomed and we are soon off. But not without some immediate drama as Giobari Pop-Yornwin of Government Girls Secondary School, Wuse Zone II, is the first to stop Vina in her tracks. Vina’s dance steps had endeared her to the student. Gold, a middle-aged man is ecstatic. He reveals he is a neighbour to the radio station where Vina works. Two dudes, Mula and Bingo, seem to dwarf Vina as she stands between them for a photograph. This is not the end, Gold returns with his America-based teenage daughter as we enter the taxi. He gives Vina his number and wants her to call him up.

12:18 pm
We are finally off for lunch. The photo crew takes their ride behind us while Vina, Winnie and I take our place in the taxi. A little traffic at a major intersection on Adetokumbo Ademola Crescent causes some real drama. Before we could say Jack Robinson, one dude was knocking on Vina’s wound-up glass window. As the traffic eased we found out to our amazement that someone was beckoning on us to stop and was using his car as a shield. Oh my! To our left another car with guys in it was honking and beckoning on us to wind down our glasses. Winnie gave Samson, the driver, some strict orders to not only lock the doors but to also keep going.

12:21 pm
Jevinik here we are. We take a detour off the major road but we are unable to shake off a blue Peugeot 406 car with four male occupants. Vina pays the fare and gets out to meet the entourage. Some photographs and we are soon inside the restaurant with some peering looks. As we take our seats, the identity of the occupants of the car, which had followed us, is revealed. There was a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly in their midst! His gold call card is the cynosure of all eyes as we talk on the table.

12:30 pm
“What’s with white soup,” Vina inquires. “I’ve never had it”. She opts for white soup and pounded yam but Tom’s hands on his head are also noticed. Tom reveals how the man whom he had just exchanged pleasantries with on the table lost his wife a week after the wedding. He had undertaken their wedding photo sessions. “That’s too much,” Vina commiserates with Tom.

12:38 pm
We are soon making orders even as Ross Obim’s three juice packs arrive. Ross is the restaurant’s manager who had promised to offer something on the house. Vina’s white soup foray is soon over before it even begins as the waiter reveals there is no white soup for the day. She goes for ‘oha’ soup with pounded yam instead, and we also make our orders. Vina reveals Adam, her man, is real and that she has put up pictures of him on her social networking profile due to the rumours that she is making him up. I’m eager to know where he is and she tells me he is closer than I think. Adam turns out to be one of my pals that I have some great respect for due to his focused attitude to work. You can’t beat that: Adam is so real.

12:44 pm
We start to have our heavy lunch. Tom sitting directly opposite Vina is the odd one out with his rice and tomato sauce meal; pounded yam is the popular choice among the rest. I sit next to Vina on the left and go for bitterleaf soup. Tersoo is further to her left and offers to have egusi (melon) soup. Winnie and Jenevieve sit to Vina’s right and also opt for her choice of soup.

1:15 pm
Lunch is over and Vina shares her ‘lucky’ number seven experience. She says she was the seventh housemate to be ushered into the Big Brother Amplified house, made it to the final seven on the show and finished as the seventh housemate on the overall standings – 777. That was also the number for sharing and selling phone credits on one of Nigeria’s major GSM networks.

1:30 pm
I want a new i-pad; I want a new laptop,” Vina says as she looks into her purse to pay the bill. Tom throws a N10 note on the table to help Vina pay the bill and draws general laughter from all of us. She pays the bill and reveals she has to go to H-Medix to do some shopping. We saunter our way out of the restaurant with a general consensus to walk to H-Medix from Jevinik.

1:38 pm
The shop is not in sight as we make it to the intersection between Nola Close and Bangui Street. Tom’s assertion that the pharmacy store is close by is deceptive. As we take a left turn and then right, we realise that we have been shortchanged. The threatening rain add to the drama of this rather unfortunate walk. We walk past a number of shops and Vina points, “Look, it says Vina.” We look up and see a sign post ‘Vina’ for a furniture outfit. “How about Vina being the Face of Vina,” Vina enthuses. But Winnie, a.k.a Foxxy, is not smiling as a result of the threatening rain.

1:47 pm
We arrive at the shop and Vina picks up seven items; tampons, two sanitary pads, a shower cream, a deodorant and Clearasil. N4,040 is the total cost. She beckons on Tom to buy a muscle enhancer before paying for the items.

1:55 pm
Samson arrives and we drive back to Kiss FM. The driver sure knows his way around as he heads in the opposite direction to avoid the afternoon traffic at Adetokumbo Ademola Way. A shout of Vina! is heard from a fan before we get in the taxi.

2:20 pm
Vina talks about not getting the rest she needs and later talks with Hanni on the phone. Hanni is apparently excited by whatever Vina has disclosed to her. “You have to get your management team to call him,” she says as she rounds off her phone call. We all get a chance to say ‘Hi Hanni’ before she hang up.

2:40 pm
Vina is on air promoting the welcome party in her honour. Listeners are asked to call in and reveal Vina’s favourite song for a free ticket of the party. Friday, a caller gets it right: it’s epic by M.I. featuring Praise.

3:06 pm
We are joined by Ama Egbeogu and Chalya Dul, two intern reporters from LEADERSHIP at the lounge. After the necessary introductions, we all sit back at the lounge waiting for Vina’s itinerary for the welcome party to arrive. James, a light-skinned male, who had been sitting next to Vina at the lounge, has no idea of who is next to him. When he eventually figures out she is a celebrity and is told so, he promptly buys a ticket for the party. Chioma, a young female fan, who came into the lounge to get her ticket, is also ecstatic. “I just held myself back from giving her a hug in there,” she reveals to me when I approach her outside the lounge, having noticed her quick exit.

3:25 pm
The skies open up and the rains come pouring down heavily.

3:41 pm
I’m able to corner Vina’s co-presenter on the Breakfast Show, Jennifer Nzewunwah, and she reveals that the bonding with Vina on the show was great.

4:11 pm
It’s closing time at the radio station.

4:25 p.m
Perkins ‘Operko’ Abaje walks into the lounge. He is introduced to me as the person who made Vina and he was extremely popular amongst the station’s staff. “I had to buy 2 modems, 4 laptops and the SIM cards of all the major networks to vote for Vina all through the show,” he declares, and says that he formed Team Vina, the official group, and Vinified, the voters support group and spent over N400,000 because Vina is young, reminds him of his younger sister and deserves a chance to make a name for herself. Ladgema, King Arthur and a certain Bonny resident, massive TV message senders are all his cronies.

5:25 pm
The photo shoot crew takes their leave and my phone batteries are running down. I go out in search of a battery charger.

5:34 pm
Belsuk, her older ‘sister’ by three months, arrives to take Vina to her place, to try out some attire for the welcome party. Belsuk works with a development agency and also does some personal buying and selling runs.

5:34 pm
We arrive at Belsuk’s place at Mabushi and are introduced to Asabe, her cousin. Chalya and Ama, the interns, also made it to Mabushi with us. It’s a big family house that we were ushered into.

6:02 pm
Vina reveals she used to live at Belsuk’s place and has another aunt at Maitama. She reveals she is an only child but has worked to pay her school fees in the UK and buy her first car. Her parents, she says, live in the UK. Earlier, she had told me that she cried at the BBA 6 finals because she saw her parents and not because she was evicted. The cameras obviously denied viewers the privilege of seeing her parents on the final live show.
Vina reads Lomwe’s text to me: he has something brewing in his rap career and wants Vina to be part of it. She also speaks with her mom about her next line of action. Belsuk and Asabe were also keen followers of BBA 6 and we all talk excitedly about the programme.

6:28 pm
The calls are many and she is at a crossroads on who to answer and who to call back. “How many people am I going to call,” she wonders, and calls out, “Hello, this is Malvi”. I feel for her but what can I do because, almost immediately, another phone rings: “My South African number, people keep sending me text messages.”

6:44 pm
We break up as she has to go upstairs to try out her outfits. Ama, Chalya and I are left alone downstairs. Ama takes malaria drugs; that’s the reason she could not join me earlier. The offer of a light dinner brought a huge relief for her. I am full from the heavy lunch and cannot take more.

7:14 pm
Vina arrives from upstairs and announces she is retiring for the day. She puts a phone call through to Adam, who is apparently not feeling too well.

7:22 pm
It’s a long day for us, too, and we say the last good byes, receive the last hugs, call it a day and drive back to the office.

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