He is half human, half amazing, call him Ben200 and you won’t be wrong. An on air personality, master of ceremonies, writer and poet, Benjamin Ubiri, host of ‘Midday Dialogue’ and ‘Lets Talk Show,’ Nigeria Info FM 95.1 Abuja, takes you on a journey through his life in this encounter with LEADERSHIP Weekend.
I am Benjamin Ubiria.k.a Ben200, half human, half amazing. I am a writer, journalist, master of ceremonies and radio on-air-personality (OAP). I currently work as an OAP at Nigeria Info FM 95.1 Abuja, Nigeria’s foremost talk radio station. I co-host ‘The Midday Dialogue Show’ on weekdays and ‘The Lets Talk Show’ on Saturday nights. I am the fourth child out of seven children. I used to have six sisters. I attended Aunty Lucy and Ramat Primary Schools, Kano. I was also at Army Day Secondary School and Gwammaja 2 Secondary School, Kano but finished secondary school at Urhobo College,Effurun. I attended Katsina Polytechnic, the International Institute of Journalism, Television College, Jos, and currently a master of mass communication student at the National Open University of Nigeria. I am a Christian. I am also married to Helen, my best friend and together we have two children,Emmanuella and David. I have worked as a journalist for a few years now. My first job was in 1999 as a reporter for Smash magazine. I later joined The Anchor Newspaper, The Guardian Newspaper, Public Agenda Newspaper, Leadership Newspaper, Newspage Newspaper and The Sun Newspaper. I have also done some work with Galaxy Television, Channels Tv and Independent Television where I left as head of Current Affairs.
How was growing up like?
I grew up in three cities: Kano, Warri and Katsina. I was born into a short period of family affluence that was cut short by harsh economic realities and the death of my father. Life became tough but filled with lessons. As a child, I went to both private and public schools and sat with both the rich and the poor. Growing up in Kano gave me the privilege of knowing the true nature of the Hausa-Fulani man: his kindness and welcoming nature. When I moved to Warri, I learnt also to be proactive and independent. I have had people from all over the country influence me. I can say I am very Nigerian, detribalised and nationalistic. I love my childhood, I miss a part of it but it is in the past. Most of it is represented in the short stories and poems that I write.
Your parents and the influence they had on you?
My parents, Chief Solomon Ubiri: The Enih of Iyede (now late) and Rebecca Ubiri are from the Ubiri royal family in Otor-Iyede in Isoko-north local government of Delta State. My late father was very active and very far from home. I knew very little about him. But every time I had to spend with him, I cherished. He was a businessman and later a politician. But my mother was my greatest teacher. She taught me religion, and the very virtues of kindness, love and humility. My mother did everything to help me be a man. I owe everything I have become to God and my mother.
Your first time on radio and what the experience was like?
The first time I came on radio was in 2002 in Katsina. I was put on Companion Radio to do radio request and weekend music shows. Later, I moved on to do the daily pidgin breakfast show. I did that until 2003 when I left to join the National Museum as a public relations officer. In 2015, I was back on radio again as an OAP in Nigeria Info FM Abuja. This time for a very serious and deliberate career.
My mentors are majorly local: MrEbere Young is an MC and renowned Nigerian broadcaster and he has helped me in my career. Eugenia Abu has had a strong influence on my life. I also respect Howard Stern and Jamie Foxx, strong radio influences for me.
Tell us about your programme
I co-present ‘The Midday Dialogue Show’. It runs on Nigeria Info FM 95.1 from 10am through 3pm every week day. It is a potpourri of carefully selected segments that cover a broad range of topics such as politics, health, developmental issues, law, women and other current affairs topics. On Saturdays, between 8pm and 1am, I present the lifestyle and family discussion show, ‘Let’s Talk’ which focuses on marriage, jobs, help for the poor and needy, sex and love. My station is a talk and very interactive station. We deal with the people directly. We take live calls; we also take live social media messages.
How do you connect with your fans?
I have a fan club; ‘The Ben200 Fan Club’ which is a subsidiary of the Ben200 Foundation. They have an exco who help me run the charity and community service angle of my life. I help source for jobs for people, I also help on health issues. My key project is the ‘Buckle My Shoe Project’ under which I help with the distribution of school sandals to students. I also hold monthly ‘Youth For Youth Dialogue’ as a project to promote discussion among young people.
Most memorable moment as a presenter
For me, every day is a memorable day. I prepare every day to give my best and to experience my callers. I would particularly not forget the day I sat for two and a half hours with Chief Awomolo SAN and his wife. It was a Valentine night and we talked about their marriage and love life. It was inspiring.
What gives you fulfilment?
My life and job is dedicated to the people. As an OAP, I do not fall into the conventional description of a ‘phone’ speaking presenter. I am given to caring for the poor and needy. My joy and fulfillment come from the smiles that I put on the faces of people.
Your view on journalism
I feel journalism is literature in a hurry. I believe that journalists should be honoured with more than the memories of a headline. We should move away from being popular only as long as we are still writing by-lines. The profession needs more honour and respect. We should give the journalist a truly high place in society. We need this profession to be restricted and chattered. Let writers be writers. Let journalists be trained and professionals allowed to work. It is a noble profession riddled with many problems caused by ownership and poor remuneration. These can be solved.
Your bucket list
I want to do a lot of things before I leave this world. I love life but I am not afraid of death. I hope to travel all around the world; particularly I hope to visit Mecca, Jerusalem and the Vatican. I plan to learn Korean and Chinese languages for the peculiarity of the people. I plan to try a new profession in a different field, I am considering tailoring. I am hoping to write a great book of biographies and anchoring an event on the world stage. I have been afraid of swimming but on my list is this desire to go deep water diving to experience marine life up close.
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
I sincerely love the way life is. But if I have the power to change anything in life, I would erase the word vice from humanity’s memory and everything we do would be positive. I love freedom. If I was really to change anything in my life, I would come again as a woman. I would come to life as my wife, Helen.