Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: As a Child, My Swimming Pool Was the Murky Waters of the Village - Izamoje

interview

Dr. Larry Izamoje is an innovator in sport broadcasting in Nigeria, being the founder of Africa's first sports radio station.

Born in Onitsha, Nigeria, he is the fourth child in a family of nine. An indigene of Ekpon in Igueben L.G.A, Edo State, he is married to Bridget and they are blessed with three lovely children: Phoebe, Debbie and Becky. In this interview, he opens up to Hi Groove on his rise from grass to grace, how he met his wife, his personal life style and many more. Excerpts:

Growing up

We were not born with either the silver or golden spoons in our mouths. So growing up was very tough, because my parents found it difficult to make ends meet.

In spite of this , we enjoyed the family because of the kind of values my parents tried to inculcate in us.

And we were content with the little they could provide for us. One thing we enjoyed during that time was having to eat from the same bowl of food at the same time. That taught us some good lessons about love, sharing and togetherness. We were also taught not to criticize people.

Life as a child

I was very rascally as a child - the toughest of the nine children of my parents. I did virtually all the nasty and funny things that little children did while growing up.

One remarkable one was, when I jumped into the remains of a murky water, which we called 'dabadaba'. It was our kind of swimming pool especially after a heavy down pour. The rich had swimming pools, but for those of us who were from poor backgrounds or poor homes, those murky waters, were our own kind of God-sent swimming pools and we enjoyed swimming in those muddy waters that looked whitish with our reddish eyes.

Starting off Radio Sports 88.9 Brilla FM

The phrase 'Brila FM' is a combination of the first three letters of my wife's name Bridget and the first two letters of my name Larry. We combined both letters together and found out that it sounded good and that was how we coined the name 'Brila FM'.

Brila Sport was first established , as an independent programmes producing and consulting company. Then, we were into independent programmes, doing it for everybody and the more we did it the more people liked it. At first we were doing it for Cadbury, our first major sponsor.

Then companies like Cowbell, Western Union, Coca-Cola and Econet came along. Suddenly, we became the beautiful bride. From that point we moved to become a radio station.

Then Mallam Danladi Bako, became the DG of the NBC. I went to congratulate him in Abuja and in our discussion, he told me about his idea to change the face of broadcasting in Nigeria. He said he wanted to start having specialised broadcasting stations where he believed people like me could own a sports station because of my love for sports.

Right there and then, I went downstairs, bought the form, filled it dropped it on his table and left. Three years later, I was at AIT to pay for air time to present a programme when Kunle Job read the news at 4pm and my name was mentioned that Brila has a licence from the Federal Government to run a sports radio, that was in 2002.

Inspiration

The inspiration came from God Almighty, I think He just decided to be good to me, having chosen me as a missionary in the development of sports through dissemination of objective sports reports .

Challenges

It has been both sweet and sour. Sweet, because we are living our dreams especially as we had wanted to talk sports. Sweet because government has given us more licences as we are now in Kaduna, Onisha, Abuja and Lagos. It's also sweet, because advertisers and Nigerians have reckoned with and accepted us.

Sour however, because there are still high import duties on importation of spares. Sour, because we operate using generator. When you put together the cost of running a 250KVA generator on diesel, you'd find out that you are spending more on diesel. Though we enjoy talking sports, we are working for diesel sellers.

Remarkable moments

There are so many remarkable moments in my life. First; my wedding day and then seeing my children come forth. The establishment of the radio station and the day the first programme went on air in 2002.

Dress style

I'm not a fashionist. I try to be simple in my dressing. I don't like the Agbada outfits because they are not comfortable. I like good shirts and suits. I don't go for labels but I like the Chinese suits, because they are not very conventional. I also prefer those collarless Chinese suits. My mood also affects the way I dress but when I have occasion to attend, I don't allow my mood get in the way. I also like good watches.

Women and I

I try to put on the amour of God wherever I go. When you cloth yourself with the biblical things, and you are able to put the spirit above the flesh you will surmount. People should also know that whatever you are today is by God's grace. Corinthian 15. 10 is very important to my life, it states that 'it is by the grace of God that we are who we are'.

I watch the foreign leagues. People also watch the same league and they talk about the game. But at the end of the day, I take money to the bank, that must be God. When God manifests in your life, you must also be upright. And If these girls come, once they know you are carrying the mark of Christ they will flee. That is why any where I work you will find the Holy Bible.

Meeting my wife

I didn't know she was going to be my wife. We both attended the same secondary school, then I was in class five while she was in class two. And then we met again at the University of Lagos. I was in my final year when she came for her Preliminary studies.

I wanted to add her to my hit list but her character and strength changed me from the person I was. For six years, she said no, and that meant she was not interested in sexual relationships. But the moment she said yes, I knew it was for real. It is not surprising today that she dragged me into Christianity.

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