Osinbajo’s call, Hilda’s ‘adrenaline’ for record-breaking cooking spree

Illustrative image of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, making a phone call having Hilda Baci's photograph inset. Illustration by TheDailyLeaks

By Seyi Gesinde

In his charismatic manner Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, showed a rare leadership trait, as he put a phone call through to Hilda Baci, a Nigerian chef who aimed to cook for over 90 hours in an attempt to break the Guinness world record.

The Akwa-Ibom-born lady, formally known as Hilda Effiong Bassey, began her journey to “cook Nigeria” into the global reckoning when she turned on her cooker Thursday, May 11, 2023, at exactly 15:00 GMT, at Amore Garden in Lekki, Lagos State.

She set out to make a global mark in the longest cook-a-thon contest, which she eventually achieved after invalidating the current record, 87 hours and 45 minutes set in Rewa, central India in 2019 by Indian chef Lata Tondon.

Hilda’s original plan was for her to cook for 96 hours ending at 15:00GMT on Monday, the exact hour she began on Thursday. But the crowd who theonged the venue encouraged her to keep on cooking until she hit the 100-hour mark.

The record-breaker didn’t sleep for days, standing on her feet most times to cook Nigerian meals — jollof rice, different types of rice and pasta. She also made akara, a popular street food made from mashed beans, to nourish the culinary delight of guests invited to her kitchen.

By human nature, Hilda would be tired going through the rigours of ceaseless cooking for many hours, while only allowing one assistant at a time, then taking only five minutes break each hour, or the equivalent over several hours.

She showed visible signs of physical exertion and had cold compresses applied to her head, and foot massages during her breaks. Hilda got exhausted and needed more than ordinary words of encouragement plus a soothing balm as an energizer to carry on, and at this period was when the phone call of Vice President Osinbajo came through!

Dignitaries which include former Akwa-Ibom State governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had visited her kitchen to show support and boost her morale, but the icing on the cake came from Prof Osinbajo, the path-breaker who has shown profound leadership as a public servant.

Vice President Osinbajo’s call was surely therapeutic as a strengthener activating adrenaline in Hilda to give her sudden energy. This, in the sense that ordinary citizens, even the eminent ones don’t easily get to have a direct interface with a country’s second-in-command, not to now say he is the one having you in mind when it won’t ever come to your thoughts that he should think about you — that on its own is an eternal boost for excellence and energy source. Even, not only for Hilda, her proud mother has also expressed how happy she was to know the VP called her daughter. She said, “I wept!”

Secondly, the call was like an impartation for excellence knowing full well that Vice President Osinbajo himself is a record-breaker. He has broken many grounds in his eight years in power, without adding his past feats as a public servant before becoming Nigeria’s No 2 on May 29, 2015.

Just recently, in one night, close to 10 eminent Nigerians among whom were state governors, led by former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, at a book launch in his favour attested to the fact that Prof Osinbajo’s leadership was extraordinary, positioning, him as Nigeria’s best Vice President so far.

ALSO READ: Hilda Baci: Nigerian chef breaks Guinness world cooking record

Besides, as his nature, Vice President Osinbajo is known to be a top cheerleader for the Nigerian youth, a reason which could be given for why he, from nowhere, summoned into action his people-friendly approach to leadership on that Sunday of May 14, 2023, when he made the phone call to Hilda inside her kitchen to endorse her show of pride for Nigeria and boost her can-do and go-getting spirit.

That was the energizer Hilda needed to set the intense flame on her burning desire to “cook Nigeria” into the Gunness Book of Records conversing with Nigeria’s second most powerful leader, who sounded it to her that the country’s youths among whom she is are a valuable asset.

There is no one who won’t be fired up with this presidential gesture because let’s even ask, why did Hilda set out to do this? Apart from other possible benefits, she may get from it, primarily, she is doing it for her country who takes the honour, she needs direct recognition and endorsement from the country’s constituted authorities as a boost — that she got from the Vice President.

As Nigerians watched her live in a viral video during her conversation with Vice President Osinbajo, the obviously elated Chef Hilda was seen smiling and excited for the period the phone call lasted.

The graduate of Sociology from Madonna University, Okija, Anambra State, Hilda, has now done the country proud, becoming a sensation that brings smiles to the faces of every Nigerian, young and old who gets to know that a compatriot has broken the Guinness World Record in marathon cooking.

To seal what was earlier said about Prof Osinbajo’s nationalism and love to see the country’s youths excelling, he didn’t stop at the phone call, he monitored Hilda until she made the global mark, and as the news broke out, he joined President Muhamadu Buhari and the rest of Nigers to celebrate Hilda’s excellence.

Prof Osinbajo in his message to Hilda said, “Congratulations on breaking the Guinness World Record for the ‘longest cooking marathon by an individual.’ What an extraordinary achievement! We are all immensely proud of you. As you set this new World Record, we are, cheering you on every step of the way!”

That is our Vice President for you. A faithful cheerleader for the Nigerian youths. And to every category of Nigerians, he is who General Gowon described him to be.

“Vice President Osinbajo is known for his collaborative approach to governance which has enabled him to work effectively with different stakeholders in achieving common goals.

“As you all know, Vice President Osinbajo has been at the forefront of a ground-breaking initiative that has transformed Nigeria’s economy and its people.

“The Vice President has always exhibited a passion for innovation and commitment to the development of Nigeria. Prof. Osinbajo is one of the most effective vice presidents Nigeria has ever had. And that is why I said congratulations to this government. The vice president has put in a lot of effort with the kind of work he’s done,” General Gowon said.

What else can one add? Congrats, Hilda!