Three years ago, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) organised FIIRO House, Nigeria’s first industrial reality TV show. The competition was designed to discover and financially support young industrial entrepreneurs who had novel business plans and ideas.
At the end of the show’s first edition in 2019, Adebola Adewale, the contestant with the entry number 1905, emerged winner. The duo of Ajiro Omanudhowo and Sanni Ibiyemi Pedro also finished as the show’s first runner-up and second runner-up respectively.
Before the commencement of the show, FIIRO had stated that the winner of the show would receive N25 million in prize money, while the first and second runner-up would receive N15 million and N10 million respectively.
However, three years after, FIIRO is yet to make good its promise of rewarding the winners with the prizes won.
LEGITIMATE SPONSORS FOR ILLEGITIMATE OUTCOMES
“It’s been over three years now since the federal government, through FIIRO and other private partners neglected the participants of the reality show organised by them,” Adebola, the winner of the competition, told FIJ.
Adebola narrated how the show started as one which held a lot of promise because of the kind of backing and support it had.
“Thousands of people participated but 20 people were selected to participate in the show’s first edition. A participation fee of N3,000 was also paid by thousands of participants,” Adebola said.
“The show gained the support of the Ministry of Science and Technology under the guidance of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu. A private company called Lashone Limited, headed by Mr. Lanre Shonekan, also served as the private partner and executive producer of the show.”
VOTING EXPENSES INCURRED BY FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
Like every other reality TV show, FIIRO House required a voting process to rate the performance of all its participants through the trainings and tests administered to them. The performance of each participant was expected to attract the volume of votes viewers cast on their behalf.
“All my friends voted with a lot of money. One voted with N25,000,” Adebola explained to FIJ.
There was no limit to how much could be spent on the voting process. This allowed people to vote as many times as possible. Friends and families voted with several thousands of naira to support their favourite FIIRO house member.
PUBLIC PRESENTATION OF CHEQUES, PRIVATE DELAY OF PAYMENT
At the Grand Finale of the show, the top three contestants were presented with giant cheques that reflected the prize monies they had won.
“Since then, none of us has been paid. We have written letters to FIIRO but got no response from them,” Adebola said.
“It is only right that they pay us the prize monies we have won. And, if not, the government should at least publicly acknowledge that they are yet to pay us.”
PERSONAL COSTS ON CONTESTANTS
Adebola also said FIIRO’s failure to pay the cash prizes promised have prevented the business ideas they presented at the show from taking off.
Ajiro Omanudhowo, the competition’s first runner-up also confirmed to FIJ that he was yet to receive his cash prize from FIIRO.
“No, we haven’t received any cash rewards,” Ajiro said.
“I was told eight months ago that FIIRO would start a process so that we can be paid. But, since then, they have gone quiet on it.
“They keep saying they are working on it but we’ve not heard from them for several months.
“The funds would have gone a long way to help grow our businesses by now but government has totally ignored us.”
FIJ reached out to FIIRO via its official email address but a response had not been received at press time.
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