Big Brother Nigeria: Between Entertainment And Morality

By Collins Yakubu-Hammer

The 2017 Big Brother Nigeria (BBNaija) television reality show entitled: “See Gobe’’ has come and gone but the memories are fresh in the minds of the viewers, fans and critics of the show.

The show debuted in 2006 when 14 contestants were housed in South Africa to compete for 100,000 dollars between March 5 and June 4, 2006; and Katung Aduwak was the winner.

Some fans of the 2017 edition of the show note that it was unique because of the access to social media by the viewers unlike during the maiden edition when social media had not gained much prominence.

The 2017 edition of the show held for 11 weeks; from Jan. 22 to April 9, featuring 14 housemates including CocoIce, Efe, Marvis, Bisola, Marvis, Uriel, Tboss, Soma, Miyonse, Gifty, Bally, TinTallTony, Bassey and Debie-Rise.

Beside these, two fake housemates, Jon Ogah and Ese Eriata were sent into the house to spice up the show.

In the tenth week, nine of the real and the two fake housemates were evicted from the house, leaving the top five — Efe, Bisola, Marvis, Tboss and Debie-Rise — for the grand finale.

Marvis, Debie-Rise and Tboss were also evicted early from the house during the grand finale, leaving Bisola and Efe to contend for the grand prize.

Efe got 57.61 per cent of the votes and was declared winner while Bisola became the first runner- up with 18.54 per cent of the votes.

The first runner-up won the One Campaign Prize and would feature in United Nations Assembly to speak on girl-child education later this year.

Tboss, who scored 13.60 per cent of the votes, emerged the second runner-up and won the Payporte Arena Prize of N500, 000.

This feat, nonetheless, critics of the show insist that although BBNaija was a game, the intrigues in the house portrayed the reality of life in our modern society characterised by hate, love, pretence, lies and strategies to excel.

Many Nigerians have also expressed different views about the reality show, observing it was characterised by alcoholism, nudity, sex, fun, entertainment and vulgarism even as MultiChoice, the organisers of the show, announced that the show would be for adult viewers only.

Although the show has continued to generate criticisms and condemnation from the society, it has also gained commendations from many of its fans.

For instance, shortly after the show began, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, expressed concern about the show and the choice of the venue — South Africa.

He directed the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to determine whether or not the MultiChoice; a video entertainment and internet company, had breached Nigerian Broadcasting Code in any way by choosing to host the show in South Africa.

The organisers, in swift reaction, however said the logistics to host the show was not readily available in Nigeria, hence the choice of South Africa.

They explained that the shooting of the reality show in Johannesburg, South Africa, would enable it to use a fully equipped house.

“We have a fully equipped house in South Africa which is used for the Big Brother shows; this means that we are able to achieve high production values whilst meeting tight timelines.

“The house has played host to other Big Brother countries including Big Brother Africa, Mozambique, Angola and now Nigeria,’’ Ms Caroline Oghuma, one of the organisers, said.

Beyond this concern, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Abuja, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ojeifo, said “what values are we transmitting to youths today, in a society where immorality and stupidity are rewarded with big prizes?

“We cannot continue to nurture a society that places a premium on iniquitous shows such as BBNaija and expect to groom a generation of cultured, disciplined and morally upright leaders.

“The promoters of this immoral show must ask themselves what they intend to make out of it; they must ask themselves what values and morals they are projecting to the larger Nigerian society.

“They must honestly answer if they’d be proud to gather their children in their living rooms at home and make them watch such a distasteful show.’’

Sharing similar sentiments, Dr Reuben Abati, the spokesman for the former President Goodluck Jonathan said “I was relieved because for about 70 days, the show was a big distraction, crass capitalism at its most cynical edge, a source of unmanageable madness in homes and on the streets.

“MultiChoice, through its Big Brother Naija and Big Brother Africa franchises, seems committed to the promotion of base values, chiefly adultery, prostitution, love of money, nudity and sex.

“What just ended as Big Brother Naija 2017 was nothing other than the corralling of some human beings into a zoo, pressured to behave like nothing but animals.

“The organisers made money devaluing other human beings; MultiChoice and Payporte, the sponsors, turned alcohol and pornography into legitimate sport.’’

Critics of the show have also been asking that looking at the so called immorality and alcoholism in the BBNaija house, what difference does it make with alcoholism, prostitution and immorality in the contemporary society.

They observe further that voters were expected to vote through short message service and other social media platforms by buying recharge cards of voter’s network to be able to vote for a favourite housemate.

They note that the period of the show created business opportunity for some Nigerians who produce and sell recharge cards to more than 24 million people had voted during the show.

Stating some of the benefits of the show, Mr Victor Okoro, a journalist, said “BBNaija had created stronger bond between couples.

“BBNaija became a talking port for my wife and I; we always talked about it in the bedroom, living room and other places.

“Tboss, Bisola, TTT and Big Brother himself gave viewers many things to talk about; the show was entertaining and educating too.

“For example, the child-child campaign presentations, the drama on meningitis and other tasks in the house were entertaining and educative.’’

Similarly, Mrs Abigail Yusuf, a retired civil servant and a grandmother, said she enjoyed the show.

Yusuf explained that since the inception of the show, she had always kept a tap on the happening on the show.

“The show was so entertaining, even people that are criticising it are also watching and talking about it because it is trending in the social media and other platforms.

“Anything entertaining and educative is not for youth alone; I am a grandmother but I love the show and the characters; I love the various challenges and the humility of Efe,’’ Yusuf said.

Also Mrs Chinwendu Egwu, a housewife, said: “This year BBNaija was just on point; I feel it was the best ever organised Big Brother series in Africa.

“The show brought about unity as some people see themselves as #TeamEfe, #TbossNation, #Debie-RiseNation and so on; the fun was encapsulating and infectious.’’

Observers also note that the show has made many Nigerians to know much about how to do shopping on Payporte.

Beside this, Mr Joseph Anzaku, a public servant in Abuja, said that the show was an opportunity for young persons, especially the participants to achieve their dreams.

“Efe received N25 million and a car, how many of our lawmakers have invested in the life of a youth to achieve his or her dreams in Nigeria.

“The show has transformed Efe to a super star, the show is a blessing to Nigerian youths and the country’s entertainment industry,’’ Anzaku said.

Applauding the show, Efe said he would give back to the society, saying “I hope to assist as much people as I can in the entertainment industry.

“Potable water is very difficult to come by so I plan to erect a manual borehole in my immediate community in Jos and in Warri.’’

However, a cross section of the viewers of the show believes that the show enhances the housemates’ skills in drama, video shooting, film and music.

Irrespective of any arguments for or against the show, critics insist that the result of the investigation to determine whether or not the MultiChoice had breached Nigerian Broadcasting Code in any way by choosing to host the show in South Africa should be announced to the public.

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