The Big Brother Naija All-Stars Show came to a fitting end on Sunday, 1 October 2023, with Ilebaye announced by host, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu as the winner of the N120 million prize money.
The award presentation was held on Tuesday, 3 October 2023 in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The coming together of selected housemates from six previous editions between 2017 and 2022 proved to be one of the most difficult reality shows to predict when it began in July 2023.
Chief among the candidates to win the show were Kiddwaya, Mercy Ekeh, Cee Cee Nwadiora, Venita Akpofure, Pere, and Whitemoney.
Of these ‘Biggie’s guests’, the duo of Mercy and Whitemoney had won previously while Cee Cee was a runner-up back in 2018.
Among the 24 housemates that strutted their talents, grace, and elegance on Biggie verse was a certain 22-year-old Ilebaye Precious Odiniya who by all accounts, was just an also-ran in the race for the prize money.
Ilebaye was one of the housemates for the Season 7 of the reality show – ‘Level Up’ in 2022.
The Nigerian criminologist, fashion model, entrepreneur, and reality TV personality in most people’s books could be leaving the house before things got heated up.
But the Gen Z baddie had other ideas.
In the early stages of the show, Ilebaye escaped being handed a strike or two by Big Brother for her altercations with some of the housemates.
She also survived numerous evictions afterward despite being so close.
So, what exactly swayed the pendulum in her favour?
Prime Business Africa’s Izuchukwu Okosi watched intently as things unfolded in the house and offered reasons why the ‘destiny girl’ won against all odds.
For starters, Ilebaye was the ‘baby of the house’ literally.
The beautiful housemate could be considered the least experienced, the one who should be contented with just being a part of the whole fame thing.
That led to some triggers in the house, and which played into her hands.
She had ‘fights’ in the house with Mercy, Cee Cee, and Pere, and exchanged heated words with a few others.
Ultimately what this meant was that those housemates who found it convenient to refer to her as “a child” gave her the opportunity to gain the highlights she wanted.
A perfect solution would have been to simply have a good talk with her, or perhaps have her indiscretions reported to Big Brother.
This is not to say that two or more people confined to a space for an extended period of time cannot throw jibes on each other or have those tiffs, but it all just makes the world of difference for the watching public.
As previously enunciated by this writer in another piece on the show as regards the changes to be made, the voting public apparently feels that the younger generation of people should be empowered.
It’s all about finding some positives in an already controversial situation as the show has been condemned as a reality TV show that promotes immorality.
So those who were left behind by other Nigerians to watch elected to vote for a young woman ‘who needs the money’ basically.
Most of the other housemates are already doing well in their chosen businesses and come from wealthy backgrounds.
The Lokoja, Kogi state-born Ilebaye once told Whitemoney in the house (Omashola was there also) that she had been to Paris, France on a school excursion back in secondary school.
She had only been in Paris because of an excursion (thanks to her Lagos-based school) and also Accra, Ghana so she has never been to other parts of the world despite her growing fame.
Many viewers picked that up and there were emotions brewing up.
Fast-forward to the eviction of Whitemoney. The glow in the face of Ilebaye betrayed her.
What had just unfolded let her realise that if she could survive an eviction show that saw a former winner go home, then she could survive the many obstacles in the house.
This led to another smart card she played: The Apology.
After the live eviction show, Ilebaye apologised for her indiscretions in the house, she pleaded that ‘if they felt hurt by her actions’ previously, they should forgive her.
That was strategic.
It was the second gear of the game for her. She switched it at the right time and henceforth became the sweet, calm good girl although it could be argued that the exits of some of her few buddies also added to that.
In the coming Sundays, more ‘heavyweights’ were sent home and the picture started getting clearer.
Outside the house, the campaigns had begun. The young voters wanted one of their own to ‘bring it home’!
Only an extremely optimistic follower of the show would think that Ilebaye does not stand a chance as the show gradually winds down.
The moment it came down to the last three ladies standing: Cee Cee, Mercy Eke and Ilebaye, it became crystal clear. Even the other two ladies would have known what was about to come.
Mercy was eager to ‘offer’ Ilebaye her guarding hands to the stage where they would meet up with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu.
Whilst responding to a question from Ebuka, Mercy, who was runner-up insisted that it was not easy to contest with the ‘newbies’ on the show.
Mercy has seen the writing on the wall. She heard the audience scream Ilebaye’s name. The latter too knew that her moment of destiny was upon her.
Oh, lest I forget and on a lighter mood, the camera panned on Ilebaye before she stepped out onto the stage when ‘knowing’ comments about the potential winner were made by Ebuka and Big Brother.
The show was a huge success and can get even better.
However, as stated by Prime Business Africa in a previous featured article, there should be some modifications so that the loud outcry over it will not adversely affect the excitement it brings.