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24 year-old OMOTOLA AKINSOLA wins N50 million from MTN – Says, ‘I was shocked when they called me’

IN an unprecedented manner, the award winning game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (WWTBAM) created another special episode that was designed to encourage viewers to surprise someone who positively influenced their lives and contributed to making them who they are today.

Working within the MTN Season of Surprises, the show unveiled eight deserving Nigerians from all the nominees from all walks of life and all over the country.

The show’s producers said the response had been unbelievable as it seemed everyone in Nigeria had nominated someone to get the ultimate end surprise of not only sitting on the hot seat to play for N10 million but an additional surprise gift of a N50 million house.

However, at the end of the show, 24 year-old Miss Omotola Akinsola emerged winner of the prized N50 million new apartment, while Mrs. Iyabo Dawodu won a brand new Kia car.

Young and passionate Omotola Akinsola could not contain her joy on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, when MTN/Ultima Studios presented her a cheque of N50 million in the just concluded Who Deserves To Be Surprised, set out by MTN to reward their customers.

In an interview with ENCOMIUM Weekly, the young corper, entrepreneur, Bachelors (B.A Social Work and Psychology) and Masters (Social Enterprise Development and Management) degree holder opened up on her success, passion, dream to develop the education system in Nigeria, her NGO and more…


How do you feel being N50 million richer?

I feel really happy and thankful to God.

How did you get into this competition?

I was nominated by my friend, Mayowa Daniel, who felt I was worth being on the show.  I met him last year when I went to open a bank account in GTB and later on, I got a call from Ultima saying, “I have been nominated among those who would be part of the show.”  And I asked, ‘Is this for real?’  They told me to come to their office for confirmation.  Even when I got to their office, I still did not believe it was true but it was true.

Tell us about the prize attached to your winnings.

First, I was to be given a house worth N50 million but it was later converted into cash and I also won N250,000 on the show while on the hot seat.

How do you intend spending your money?

I am not sure and cannot give the exact details on how the money would be spent.  But I believe that my NGO, Jumpstart Academy will benefit from this cash prize because this is what I am passionate about and what I love doing.  So, this prize will surely help me enhance what I do to reach out to more people and make sure that the quality education in this country would be sustainable with time.   I plan to thank my family with some goodies to say, ‘Thank you’ for all your support because aside from my NYSC allowance and honoraria from speaking, my family are the next set of people that I go to meet for money to support my NGO.  Also, I plan to say a big thank you to the person who nominated me because he could have chosen anybody in the world but he chose to nominate me.

Omotola Akinsola with car winner

Omotola Akinsola with car winner

During the grand finale of the show, you were in a tie with the runner-up.  How did you break through?

That happened when we did the ‘sudden death fastest finger’.  So, the host asked the question and we were given 20 seconds to answer and I was able to answer the question correctly which fetched me the ultimate prize.  I was not even sure if what I typed in was right and I was shocked when I saw that I was not only the fastest finger but I got the puzzle right.

What are you most grateful for?

At the moment, I am grateful for the fact that I followed my passion and it is paying for me.  I studied in the United States, both for my Bachelors and Masters degree and when I was leaving majority felt I would be wasting my time coming back to Nigeria and of all things, to run an NGO, that it was stupid of me.  I even turned down my opportunity of becoming a US citizen in order to come run this organization. I am just grateful that I did not listen to those things and following my passion is bringing me things I never expected I would have or do.

Who are you dedicating this cash prize to?

I am thankful to God for it because He is the giver of every good thing.  Also to my academy, all the scholars and staff that have been working for us.  And definitely to my family for their support and the belief they have in me.

Tell us more about your NGO.

Jumpstart Academy operates both in Cameroun and Nigeria and we have over a 100 students at the moment.  We provide opportunities for children to further their education and they are all public school students and our goal is to support and complement whatever that is lacking in their education system.  We also provide financial resources as a lot of them do not have textbooks, past questions, they cannot pay for their JAMB fees.  So, the organization does all the payments.

For instance, in a school we are working with, they have about 23 SS3 students and only four were able to afford N5,000 for JAMB, so we paid for the remaining students in order to be able to sit for this upcoming JAMB examination.  We also have after school coaching for them because a lot of them have subject areas that they should be very well equipped in but do not due to lack of teachers or inconsistency in teaching.  So, we hire tutors to come and coach them on these subjects.  We also organize skill acquisition classes because I also believe that we need leaders and like I ask students, what will you do if your academics fail you?  So, that is why I organize this leadership and entrepreneurial training.  We also engage them in community service because I don’t want them to think since they get everything they can’t give back to the society.  So, this is done to make them know, their time and talent is also important.  It is a form of giving back to the society either you have the money or not.  So far, this has touched the lives of not just the students but their parents as well.  We have been breaking barriers and igniting possibilities.

How many years have you been running this NGO and what has kept it going?

I started in September 2013, so it will be two years this year.  What has kept it going is the fact that, I have people who are ready and willing to work at all times.  We registered in the U.S, Cameroun and Nigeria and it has given us the opportunity to apply for grants in the U.S and they have been really helpful.  The people I work with have been great because they look beyond the money and put their heart into it and know what it takes not to have a quality education but they made it through.  We plan to be here until something better happens in our educational system.

What do your parents do and how do they feel about this?

My father is a professor and my mom a trader.  They feel great and proud of me and believe that me following my dream is working out well for me and they are willing to support even more than they have ever done.

What do you have to say to MTN/Ultima?

I am really thankful and grateful to Ultima/MTN for this great opportunity.  This is a way that MTN is making a statement that they believe in people because I never expected this would ever come my way.  So I say, ‘thank you’ for them believing in me.


‘God will continue to bless and uplift them’



Congratulations! How do you feel today?

I feel good and elated.  I could not even believe it when they called my name as the fastest for my round for the hot seat because whenever I watch Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, I would always take it as a game of chance.

Iyabode Sodiya

Iyabode Sodiya

How did you get into the game?

It was my dad that nominated me because he said, I was taking care of him which I feel is my duty as a daughter.  It is not something special to me.  All I am doing is just my responsibility.

How were you contacted?

Initially, my dad told me but I was not convinced and I said it is not possible because if you have won anything from MTN, they will call you directly.  But later, a lady from MTN called me on my phone and that was when I got convinced about my winning.

What is the prize given?

It is a brand new Kia car.

Adding another car into your garage, how do you feel?

Honestly, it is indeed an addition because already, I own two cars and adding this is very nice as it is a gift and a surprise.  I own two Toyota cars before and now, I have been surprised with a Kia.  Besides, I have never owned a brand new car, so this is a new feeling for me.

Iyabode with MTN officials

Iyabode with MTN officials

You got into a tie with the grand prize winner, why did you not make the first position?

When we got into a tie, the task was to arrange some countries from the North to the South and honestly, I do not know.  So, the other lady beat me to it when the 20 seconds passed.

Can you tell us about yourself?

I am Mrs. Iyabo Sodiya-Dawodu.  I am a nurse and work with Lagos State government.  Fortunately for me, a journey of 35 years that started in 1980 ended on Wednesday, February 25, 2015.  So, this car is a retirement gift for me.

This is double celebration, how do you intend celebrating it?

It calls for celebration but that would be at a later date.

Who do you dedicate this gift to?

I would first dedicate it to God and then to my father who nominated me.  Unfortunately, he cannot ride it.

What are you most grateful for?

I can’t stop thanking God because he has been so good to me.  Since I started my life, and my career to this point of my retirement, it has been so wonderful.  It has not been easy for 35 years but He has been with me.  During my years, I got married, had children and more grateful that I now have grandchildren.

What do you have to say to MTN/Ultima Studios?

God will continue to bless and uplift them.  I wish this continues so that others can benefit.

– Interviews by DOLAPO AMODENI

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