INTERVIEW WITH ALEX ORIAIFO
Alex Oriaifo is really a budding polymath. An artist, economist, dancer, influencer, and ghostwriter; he is the epitome of how much social media can redefine odds in the favor of a man living in a very dysfunctional system. He is also the Founder of House Of 308.
Hello, Alex. It’s a pleasure to have you.
With over 500k followers on Twitter, as a ghostwriter, an artist and a dancer, how have you been able to manage all three?
Speaking of now, it has been a long time since I actually danced actively. I used to be very active when I was still studying at Obafemi Awolowo University. As an artist, I draw once in a while these days. My main focus now is networking and social media marketing which I started on Twitter.
When exactly did you start actively promoting your self brand on social media?
That will be 2017, though I’ve opened an account on Twitter since 2011. But I really didn’t know exactly what I was opening the account for. I guess I just opened a social media account with no plan of networking big time in mind. So, in 2017 I was home from school. I was very free. I had an entire year to myself, so I needed something to occupy myself. I’ve been seeing a lot of screenshots of tweets on Instagram so I felt like being part of that community. And that was when it all started.
What gets people attention that makes them follow you?
I honestly don’t know. I just do a lot of wordplay tweets, jokes, create memes, but I’m not the only one creating content like that. I can’t really say for sure that I know what pulls people towards me on Twitter. I’m just grateful.
You go by, “Four-eyed Edo Boy”, what does that really mean?
A lot of people ask me the same question. It’s simply my actual eyes and my spectacle’s lens. I’m always on glasses, while Edo Boy signifies that I’m from Edo-Benin.
In October we saw the Nigerian youth clamoring for the disbandment of the police division SARS. Prior before then, as a youth what has been your experience with the police force?
I haven’t had a brutal experience with SARS as other youths have, but I’ve gotten my fair share. There are two notable experiences I can recall. The first was in Lagos. I was coming from Victoria Island in a cab when police stopped us. They requested for my phone and obviously found nothing that has to do with cybercrime. I was with a friend, a girl who they called out to go through her phone as well. They searched her thinking I must have given her another phone to hide or something since they usually go for the male sex. So on her phone, there’s an app, Hangout. I think it came with the phone, but I’m not quite sure. Seeing that, they concluded she was into fraud. I felt sorry and decided to pay them about N5000 so they could leave knowing that’s what it was all about money. That was only 25 percent of what they were demanding. The second confrontation was here in Benin very close to the University of Benin. I didn’t know if they were doing some random investigation, but I was apprehended returning from the supermarket with food items. They saw and read through my phone messages, read my emails, and saw feedback messages from Quick Teller. Boom! They said I was into Quick Teller fraud. Well, I told them I didn’t have a dime. They threatened to bundle me to the station. At last, I gave them N5000. I needed to avoid trouble, going to the station can change stories.
How do you feel about the current state of the country as it is now?
I honestly don’t believe the government will keep their words following their promises after the protest came to an end. I don’t like the way things are in the country. Nobody does, but we can only be hopeful. We were able to come together during the protest. The fact that we came together shows that things are really changing for good. The status quo will someday shift. I don’t like what’s happening. I can only be hopeful that things get better.
How have you been able to be financially responsible for yourself currently, Alex?
Twitter is a God-sent for me. I happened to be one of the few who gets the consistent flow of promo opportunities and campaigns from African companies. I advertise for them and do a lot of promotions for these brands. That’s how have been sustaining myself with African brand deals such as Chipper Cash among others.
What future do you visualize from here?
I actually want to finish school. I left Obafemi Awolowo University in 2017, and later got admitted to the University of Benin to start afresh studying Economics and Statistics. I also want to continue social media marketing and take it to the next level. It was never part of my plans initially, but I still want to keep it rolling. It’s been lucrative.
Thank you so much, Alex.
By Elijah Christopher,