Hazel Oyeye Onou Popularly known as Whitemoney is the winner of the 2021 edition of the Big Brother Naija Show, the “Shine Ya Eye” after ousting 25 contestants. He is obviously the star of the moment.
Since his emergence as the winner of the BBN, Nigerians have looked up to know his values, principles, believe and life’s journey.
In this encounter with the Media Room Hub crew, he bares it all. He takes us through his time in the Big Brother Naija House, his life journey -offers some advice and commendations to Big Brother.
With a witty but stern voice, the ever-smiling President of the Whitemoney geng appeals to Biggie for to reconsider inviting married people to the Big Brother Show among other things laden in the body of the interview.
Q: I took a lot of interest in your story in the Big Brother Naija house especially when you talked about your Ojuelegba days, can you give us some memories about your Ojuelegba days?
A: Ojuelegba is the centre of a story for me, it is the piece, Ojuelegba is me basically because that is the first place I landed, a night bus dropped me there, I can never forget that day, I came to shoot a music video that I was featured in, I wrote an album for a friend who said I should come around and feature in a song with her. When I was coming, I told myself will I come to Lagos and go back to Kaduna like that, I said let me just come once and for all, as at that time, I already had my salon and everything going on well for me in Kaduna. I didn’t stay at ojuelegba immediately, after the video shoot, she and her family housed me for about few month until they didn’t need me anymore, so that is how the Ojuelegba thing began. I searched for job, apparently, I did not go to school, the only thing I know how to do then was mast construction, I know how to build mast and cut hair.
Q: How come you didn’t go to school and you speak so well?
A: Exposure like mingling and I watched a lot of American films, it helps me a lot, I am not saying Nigerian films are not nice but in order to perfect my spoken english to some extent that I could speak to people, I watch more of black American movies.
Q: What your level of education?
A: I managed to finish SS3 that is, O Level, I think it is grade twelve or eleven.
Q: Why didn’t you further your education?
A: As at that time, there was no fund, l managed and struggled to even pay for Neco which was four thousand naira. It was my uncle who paid the money because things were very hard, my mum was not feeling too well. I did very well, I had like eight credit and a pass. If that can pass for a job, hopefully I might get a job with that. From then, I started hustling, learning how to cut hair, so that brought me to Lagos.
Q: I remembered I saw a picture of you cutting Fred Amata’s hair on social media that went viral?
A: Oh yes, Fred Amata is one of my oldest client, he is one of the people that believed in me even when nobody did, no matter where he goes to, he will leave his hair uncut and come back for me to cut it, that is how deep it was between me and him, when we organise street show every year back then in Yaba, Tejuosho market, Fred Amata always attend when I invite him, in the rain, in the sun, as long as he is in Lagos, Nigeria.
Q: Do you have a barbing salon or you are working for someone?
A: In Lagos I have never had a salon of my own, the first salon I worked for they pay me every week, in the second salon, I was the general manager of a company, the company had a salon, spa, music studio and make up studio.
Q: How did you connect to music because I know you also have a song titled Rosemary. Did any girl called Rosemary broke your heart?
A: Not really, music has always been part of me, I have always being in the choir, if I take you back a bit, I was a choir member at redeem in Kaduna state and faith ambitions church at Asaba Delta state, I have always been a church boy. It was in faith foundation I got a scholarship to go to school, I had a scholarship from the bank to go to school due to the fact that I was drummer, the bank manager comes to church on Sunday and hear the drum playing but can see the person playing it because I was very young. That scholarship was meant for all level of my education but we had a bit of family issues, we had to relocate from Asaba to Kaduna state. I have always been into music, it happens that me and my elder brother became a duo, we called ourselves 2G. Growing up, we discover different passion, he discover passion in computer engineer, but me, I stuck to music and that how I started writing for people and the lady who came to Kaduna for NYSC, the lady liked it and I wrote a full album for her. Music has always been in me, I recorded a lot of songs back then, I had burnt down like five thousand copies.
Q: Why the name Rosemary?
A: I was in an Uber in 2017, there was no Rosemary, I have not met any Rosemary, it just came as a line, so I put it out there, I called Mr Zaki to come and we recorded it, I recorded a couple of two or three together with that, I could not even drop it, I called someone to help me upload it on iTunes and Since then I forgot about it until the big brother house when I heard him play it.
Q: What do you do to calm yourself when you are down?
A: The only thing that keeps me calm is the holy spirit, it is good to talk to yourself that you can make it, achieve it but when I face reality some times I tell holy spirit to show me the way, when I am down that is when I hear his voice very clear.
Q: Are there times when you never had money or food to eat?
A: There are plenty of times I never had food to eat, sometimes I chew garri or is it eating of raw okro, I cook the okro in a Milo tin can, there is no even pot to cook which is one of the reason I don’t like people hungry around me, I could spend my whole money on food and drink. I know what is it like to be hungry and not have money to even buy a sachet water, I have had my fair share.
Q: During all this time in your life, you never had the thought of doing something illegal to survive like internet fraudster, many young people thinks because they have suffered a lot, they had to do something illegal to survive. Why?
A: I have a sound upbringing, a perfect and moral home training, the home training was so perfect that I don’t smoke or drink when chilling with area boys or hood guys.
Q: Have you been tempted to smoke Indian hemp or weed?
A: I tried it once but that was not when I was going through problems, I was very okay then at Kaduna, I saw one of my boys taking it, after smoking it, he become hyper to the extent of him cutting the entire village, he gave me the weed but that will be the first and the last time I will take it, after taking it, I was gone, I literally ran mad, I was seeing visions, weeds makes you see things before they happen, the inspiration was coming for different angle. It not something I enjoyed, I like being normal.
Q: Have you ever experience love relationship with a woman?
A: I experienced it here in Lagos, a very pretty young lady, we dated for nine month, I think that is the first woman I have ever loved with all my head, heart, soul and body, her mother was not in support of our relationship and that how it ended but we talk once in a while but she is married now with kids.
Q: You went to Big Brother Naija house as single. What the reason?
A: since 2015 I have been single, I feel I am not ready for marriage because I think a reasonable man who is not financially stable should have a woman in is life, I believe that when you don’t have money, love can not work very well, it not just enough to say I love you, you have to show and prove it, it not by words, hugs and kisses.
Q: Do you have plans to go back to school?
A: No I don’t, I don’t have plans to go back to school, I have plans to make more money.
Q: What is your opinion about education?
A: It is the best thing that can ever happen to a child, if I have my children and I discover that from basic one to high school my child could not cope with education, I will put the child in a skill set. Most times one end up going to school with is portfolio looking for a job. The main thing is to know the basics which is to read, write and understand, I know how to read, write, understand and sign contract without the help of an attorney.
Q: Obviously, is like you are not a womanizer?
A: I love women very well, the day I stop loving women, I will go for deliverance. I believe there is time for everything, I don’t think this is the right time for me having a woman, having a woman now will be a distraction especially now that I don’t know who is by my side. definitely, I am having woman who literally told me that I cannot make it, who said we are just friend telling me congratulations dude, I know you will make it, I am having people who blocked me in the past unblocking me now and sending me message that the Lord has done it in your life baby. I am not falling for that.
Q: Who is your kind of woman?
A: I love mature ladies, I love people who looks at me and understand what I am saying before me saying it out, I love people who knows how to arrange, I want a woman who I will give one hundred thousand naira to cook a pot of soup and she won’t use all the money, I want a woman who know how to build and take care of my children, as a father I will do my duties.
Q: Does it mean she can’t have her own career?
A: She can do whatever she wants to do but both of us can’t be busy and in the limelight, one of us has to be down except she does not what to have children which is not my portion, I want to have children, she can be busy doing whatever she is doing but seventy percent of her time is for my kids, it is my culture and believe to take care of a woman and not the other way round, I want to go outside to take the bullet, take the hit, take everything and let my wife and children be fine and have everything, they must not suffer, they must be God fearing and have a proper home training.
Q: What happen when you meet a woman that pretended to be what you wanted, it now happened that the woman played you street?
A: I will pretend to return her bride price, if you pretended to be good and come into my life to turn it upside down, I will pretend to return your bride price and send you back to where you are coming from, but I pray I don’t make that kind of mistake and that the reason I have the Holy spirit to guide me all through.
Q: If you ever catch your wife cheating on you what will be your reaction?
A: When I come in and I see a man with my own wife, that fantastic, I won’t shout, that means there is something I was not doing right that makes that to happen, whatever it is that make you go that far to have another man in front of you, there is no coming back unless I have lapses.
Q: Most men thinks a lot of women are woke, for instance what happen between Boma and Tega in the Big Brother house that went viral and Tega’s husband took her back with all what we saw in house?
A: In that scenario, if you are a married person and you allowed your spouse to go for Big Brother Naija, you two must have a deep understanding, you know what you signed up for but it not easy to watch your spouse with another person, if there was no understanding, she wouldn’t have go in the first place.
Q: There is this debate online after what happened between Tega and Boma that married couple does have any business in the Big Brother Naija show. What your take on that?
A: I think that is right because you don’t want to be the platform that is known for breaking homes, you want to be a platform that uphold integrity and if you watch the history of Big Brother Naija from mercy’s time, you see it is always from street to fame, so you will want to maintain that pace, you don’t want to have scandal, for me if they ask me, I would say they should scrap out married people.
Q: Can you tell Biggie to scrap out married people from the show?
A: Big Brother you know I love you so much, you made me a star, anything I tell you to do for me, you always do it, Biggie do just one thing for me which is to scrap out married people from the show for the sake of the platform, like this year people said Big Brother taught them a lot of things, I have a lot of elderly people who watches Big Brother Naija this year and it happened that they said it was because of me they watched it, they saw house mates who are co-existing without being toxic. Scrap out married people because not every person are discipline to resist beautiful ladies, sexy women for more than two month. Till today Boma and Tega are still being dragged, it might die down today but it can never be erased, If he or she tries to contest for anything, this issue will resurface, the disadvantage is bigger than the advantage, that was one of the reason I avoided most things in the house.
Q: In the house Queen was all over you and you kept on resisting her, I don’t think you don’t like her but you are being careful, I remembered one night in the Big Brother Naija house, that was one of the days I saw you so low apart from your issue with Pere when she told you that she want to fuck you and Cross. Can you reiterate that again?
A: Exactly how you said it, that the way it was that night, I wish that word she said was not heard or it was not being captured on the camera.
Q: How did you feel that night when Queen said that to you?
A: To be honest, That was what killed whatever emotions I have for her and she apologised for that but it was just stuck in my head. Let assume it was not the Big Brother Naija house I met queen, with the way we row, I will probably be dating her now because she is an amazing person, if you get close to her and get to know her, I rather have a Queen than to have people who like you but they will be forming hard to get, she is pure and expressional, she couldn’t hide her feelings but the place we were, it wasn’t going to help because we might get carried away and do things that we will regret for the rest of our lives. They are certain things I don’t do in the public because I am trying to protect my image. I am mad and crazy inside but my freak nature is not what I want to show people outside.
Q: I notice in the Big Brother Naija house you took out time to advice Queen about her life and the way she comport herself which shows that you are like an eye over her in the house and you want her to succeed. What do you have to say about that?
A: Queen is a lively and jovial person who likes dancing a lot which is the way she functions, I like all those things as well but if you are my girl, there are things I can’t let you do in the public like tweaking, I am an old school person. I looked at my personality and her personality, if I had to put her into my life, I will have to cut out her own personality and merge it with mine of which might affect her, it will not help her to function properly, I think her fans continuously vote for her in other for her not to get evicted from the house because of the things she does, it makes them happy. If I bring her away from her world because I know she likes me, that is an emotional blackmail, then she becomes boring, her fans will stop voting for her but people will keep voting for me because I am already living my life and which is my own strength and that is the reason I just let it be.
Q: I never one day see you in the house get angry. Are you able to control your anger or is it who you are?
A: I don’t get angry easily because nothing moves me, I have suffered too much for anything to move me, the suffering have programmed me in a way that the worst thing you could do to me, it is to put a gun in my head, people will say good and bad things about you, the only word that matter in my life is that of God and my parent. For instance when they say white money is an ashewo, it might be true or false but it just a word. If I get angry, I have to connect to my inner G to bring the anger back to level zero. Throwing punches doesn’t makes you a man, answering all the questions every time doesn’t make you smart, choosing to answer those questions is what makes you wise, so I choose to be wise.
Q: In the Big Brother Naija house, if you are to pick a wife material. Who would you pick?
A: It has to be Queen because she literally was a helping hand, she does things without me forcing her, she washes the plate ,loves to cook and she knows how to save money.
Q: Big Brother Naija house is like a mystery environment because the camera is on you all the time like we saw in the case of kayvee, the first day he came in, he was looking like a lively person but before we know it, he just lost it. Did you at anytime experience that too?
A: yes, I do, I was not remembering things even till now, when we are done with all the media rounds I will go settle down and take care of my mental health, it not easy, people thinks Big Brother Naija house is fun, That place is a boot camp but it comes with luxury either it makes you better or it makes you worse.
Q: How did you survive Big Brother Naija house?
A: I survived it because I have prepared my mind for it, I know that there are camera looking at me, the only thing I could do was to be myself, I wanted to showcase my talent in the way I could in the house.
Q: Did you choose the name Whitemoney because of what you are going through or to show you make clean money?
A: Basically, I did not choose the name for myself, it was given to me by the Holy spirit, before then I have many names but it was not matching my personality and I did not like that, I remembered I prayed that Lord I want the name that stands out, then I slept off in my tiny room, the next day, I woke up with the name on my lips, I went out and told my colleagues and surprisingly the name stuck to become an household name.
Q: Did you feel bad for the way Pere treated you in the house?
A: I felt bad because he doesn’t understand the way I wanted to treat him, he does not know that I liked him and now we are good friends and communicate better. If I were him, I would have thought the same way too because I would think he was on a mission for doing everything in the house.
Q: When you are not busy, how do you relax?
A: I meditate, I use to like movies but at this point, I don’t think I can watch any movies because my DM are full, I am trying to sort out and reply them, so that people won’t think I am ignoring them.
Q: what your greatest fear in life?
A: Not making heaven, after all this things on earth, I need to be in a cool environment.
Q: If you have to go on a luxury weekend get away, what are the five things you will likely take along with you?
A: I would pack a good pair of shoes, mouth washer in other to keep my breath fresh, a hat, I can get water there and an original condoms.
Q: I noticed in the house you are very neat and your bed is always laid. What about if you get married to someone that is not like you. Are you an OCD?
A: I am an OCD, a proud one, before you go into a relationship with somebody, you would probably have dated the person for a while, I would have seen the things that I wanted or I liked in the person and if I can not change that side of you, why will I want to bring you in a relationship where we will be fighting everyday for common bed laying, if you truly like the person, you can take the person and be ready to cleaning up every time but not when you know this person is dirty. Don’t try to change people, you can only manage them. When you try to change them, they are not happy doing what you want them to do.
Q : What your take on sexual violence especially for men who can hold themselves back?
A: I don’t like when a man prey on a woman weakness, if you watched us in the house, there was a time that queen was very high, I bath and dressed her up, most men can not do that, they take advantage of that scenario, if she say I should kiss her at that moment I won’t because I know she is high. when a woman is high and the man is normal, it is wrong for you to listen to whatever she is telling you to do at that moment. It is a different thing when both of us are knocked out.
Q: If you become the Nigeria president, what are the first two law you will enact?
A: I will take away the AK 47 from the police and give them a pistol, I think AK 47 is a weapon for war and not for civilians, I will refurbish that sector, the Police are not happy because they are not getting what they deserve from the kind of work they do and I have to look out for the youth as well, I will have a programme set in place, the programme will be about skill acquisition, so that the youth can innovate.
Q: What advice did you have for our leaders and If the the president of France is 39 years of age, what is stopping a 40 years old person becoming a Governor in Nigeria?
A: We youth are even scared of coming out, you won’t blame us because if you don’t have connection, you won’t get to that place, for me, nobody can change Nigeria but you can change your village, you can change your community, you can change your constituency, these are the component that makes up Nigeria. If you pray and fast you can not change Nigeria because we are deep in corruption, if I make money build my house, a factoty, construct road, create job opportunities in my community and another person does the same thing and it goes on continuously, we are gradually developing the country with good infrastructure and creating jobs for our youths.
Q: Your fashion style is traditional, you are like a proud Igbo man. What can you say about that?
A: I am from a royal family, we have leadership, kinship and lineage, apart from that, it is the presence I carry, I did not give myself the name Mazi and Odogwu, it is the way I move, I don’t succumb to pressure, if you are working for me and you are weak, I will tell you to go back home because I want to multi task and function properly, it is my personality and that is how God created me. I am a proud Igbo man, I went into the Big Brother Naija house as a Nigerian but I identify that this is where I am from in the house. I am from Igbo, the Hausa’s made me and the Yoruba’s gave me the fame.
Q: When they announced you as the winner, how did you feel and what was going through your mind before the announcement?
A: My heart was running, I knew I was standing with a very strong woman and how could I survive this, I was not expecting to be called the winner. The kind of love I have seen from my fans, the Money Geng fan base which are millions of people, it is too much that I never expected it and shout out to the Money Geng and White Lions, you guys are too much, I have fans all over the world.