A DAY WITH FRANK EDOHO: Recollections of his Rugged Road to Fame & Fortune

Although his break into limelight about eleven years ago seemed so sudden and big, yet the popular saying that big things come in small packages has found expression in the story of Frank Edoho’s rise to stardom.
In a session with this graduate of Animal Science from the University of Calabar who rather turned out to become a world class compere of the Nigerian version of “Who wants to be a Millionaire”, Ramon Oladimeji and Oyelami Oyetunde caught up with Edoho’s recollections of the rugged road to fame and fortune.

While growing up in Sabon Garri, Kano state, Frank’s childhood dream had been to become a fireman. However, this puerile ambition was to be edged out as he grew to recognize societal expectations. To become “somebody” in the society, you either have to become a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. This was the trendy mentality that even his father had beaten into his young psyche and on the spurs of his father’s words Frank had chosen to study Medicine and Surgery at the University of Calabar, but in a twist of fate that would later be described as interesting, he ended up as a graduate of Animal Science from the same university.

Perhaps he felt a sense of destitution out of not getting what he really wanted and his purpose in life at that point became befuddled. His love for entertainment and broadcasting came to the fore while he was in Unical.

In 1993, Frank started out as a rap artiste on campus and graced the stage severally as MC Frank to the thrill of his numerous fans. Today his musical talent still remain fresh and trendy and there is little doubt that he could have conveniently held sway in the music industry amongst the galaxy of contemporary Nigerian rap stars like MI, Modenine, Freestyle, Rugged man and so on but he had dumped music  a long time ago due to absence of monetary motivation.

In his words, Frank says: in those days music was not as lucrative as it is today; those were the days of Chris Okotie in music. After each stage performance all I got were handshakes, ‘you are very talented’ and a couple of girls flocking around me but no money.

The eloquent TV presenter went on to describe, in his usual fluid words, his vehement struggle with purposelessness and frustrations. My class was close to the department of Theatre Art and so my lecturer would lead me to the window and pointing he would tell me, “that is where you are supposed to be”, and to many of my classmates I belonged among the unserious students.

He started his broadcasting career as a radio presenter in Calabar where he got the opportunity to polish his voice and hone his skills. Although he was identified early as an outstanding and promising broadcaster with compliments flooding in from various quarters and an invitation from the then governor of Rivers state, yet Frank wallowed in financial drought. In 1999, his earning as a radio presenter was N5,000 and he had found himself many times being stranded in the studio because he was broke and had no transport fare to his house.

Recognizing that knowledge is a crucial asset on the journey to success, Frank ferociously sought knowledge.

“Within a short period of one year, I learnt and mastered the rudiments of News Editing, News Reporting and Documentary”, he says. In his confessions, Frank stripped himself of his larger than life appearance on TV. He says: I don’t know everything, rather I know a little about everything.” And when he was drilled on different areas of human endeavours from science to history to economics to literature to socio-politics, the enigmatic Frank always had something intelligent to say.

Like most people in the broadcasting and entertainment business in Nigeria, Frank decided that if he wanted to become the big-time as a broadcaster he needed to be in Lagos – the hub of the actions. Eleven years down the line one would be correct to say that his decision was wise. He has had a stint at DBN TV, then Radio Nigeria where he worked for four years.

His big break came in 2003 when he was invited to the audition where the anchorman for the Nigerian version of who wants to be a Millionaire was to be determined.

Although the hurdle was bigger than he had envisaged, yet at the end of the first phase he was shortlisted among the best five candidates, then he was among the best three and then he emerged as the last man standing after which he was to present the TV game show on probation for six months.

But what quality did he have that gave him an edge over the many others who jostled for the same role?

Frank was lost for words except he says: “If I were the judges at the audition, I wouldn’t have picked me (Frank Edoho)”. Is this rather an act of humility? Frank confesses that it was the nature of the South African version of the game show that he had seen on DSTV which helped him at the audition.

He dwelt on the importance of passion and good education as keys to success in life. He would be eternally indebted to his father who gave him what he describes as quality education. Today as he seems to be living his dreams, Frank is quick to tell young people to choose a career in their area of passion. This in his words is the right path.

Another nugget is the correct application of education. Also, one has to know the value of money and it is better to save than to spend. He recommends that one-third of one’s income be kept aside as savings. To be successful in life one has to be totally oneself, have respect for people and cultivate good etiquette.

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