By Rotimi Agbana & Tolulope Abereoje
When news broke out at the weekend that the federal government had kick-started arrangements to partner with Startimes on the creation of an alternative reality TV show to replace the ongoing Big Brother Naija, BBNaija, it sparked mixed reactions among lovers of the show.
The Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe, last Friday had lodged a complaint with the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, condemning live sex during the show. However, the action of the Director-General of NCAC has continued to generate a lot of mixed reactions across the country, with some notable Nigerian entertainers describing the federal government’s move to ban the reality show as ‘a misplaced priority.’
One of the entertainers who spoke to E-Daily, popular rapper, Michael Ugochukwu Stephens, a.k.a Ruggedman said banning the BBN would mean impoverishing the Nigerian youths the more, as the reality show empowers them on a yearly basis. The reactions…
“I saw the news somewhere and I said so the Nigerian government has left Boko Haram, Herdsmen, RUGA and all the problems Nigeria has to be watching BBNaija. This is not good enough; they should help us and leave BBNaija alone. BBNaija is somebody’s successful franchise; if they don’t want it on TV, they can tell NBC or DSTV to stop showing it. And while they are telling DSTV to stop showing it, they should also fight DSTV because their tariffs are too high, MTN inclusive.
These are what they should be fighting against but they are not doing so. It’s the one that people are enjoying they want to fight. These people have misplaced priorities; who allowed it in the first place? They didn’t fight against it when it started, but now that it’s turning in money for some people and empowering Nigerian youths in a way, they want to stop it. It’s just like saying people should not travel abroad, whereas you’re not giving them jobs. If they want to ban BBNaija, they should know that they shouldn’t have let it begin in the first place. But while they are at it, they should please help us ban the high tariffs on DSTV subscription”, he said.
I Go Dye, Comedian
For stand-up comedian and social commentator, the government cannot successfully ban the show. “Government cannot successfully ban anything with intellectual right in its totality. If you ban it in Nigeria, are they going to stop all Nigerians abroad from watching it in their various countries? Let’s be objective.
The approach should be for them to partner with such agencies and brands to re-orientate the youths more positively. What concept has the Ministry of Information, Orientation and other mass mobilization institutions created within the last 20-years of our new democratic journey? The world is now a global village and information dissemination is cheap and very accessible due to the advent of ICT.
The government should be more proactive than being a critic; explore positive mediums to establish their civil ideals instead of being confrontational. If we take a look at the music and film industry in Nigeria, you will agree with me that they have not supported or added one value to the content or product improvement.
They should not be credited for just banning or infringing on the rights of concept and content developers. This is a challenge for them to meet and consult with relevant stakeholders towards bringing national ideals to the public domain. I kindly appeal for caution and discretion towards issues like this”, he noted.
Bolaji Amusan, TAMPAN President
Comic actor and president of Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Association of Nigeria, TAMPAN, Bolaji Amusan, popularly known as Mr Latin opined that instead of banning the show, the federal government can ensure that subsequent editions are censored.
“I have mixed reactions. Some people reacted to it negatively, like its a misplaced priority. Though BBNaija is rated 18, which is for mature minds, there is so much indecency in the show that is corrupting the minds of people. Nigeria is not developed to the extent that you can say those below 18 should not watch it.
The young ones can still watch it on their phones and tablets. If it were to be in advanced countries the age restriction was put, we can say it would work. But with the advent of social media and phones in Nigeria, youngsters can easily stay in their bedroom and watch the show. I would have advised the organizers of Big Brother to reduce the level of indecency. It is corrupting the minds of the young ones, that’s just the truth. Although we have a lot of other problems in Nigeria if you don’t train your children the way you should, you won’t enjoy them.
Banning the show (BBNaija) is not the way to go. The government has the power to do so many things, so the organizers can be cautioned and told that they have to reduce certain things in subsequent editions. No doubt, the platform has led to the discovery of entertainment stars in Nigeria but out of every twelve, there is always a Judas and there is no perfect production. But they should at least reduce sexual interactions to the barest minimum. I’m totally against banning it but they should modify it to fit the Nigerian culture and standard”, he said.
Ibinabo Fiberesima, former AGN President
Ex-beauty queen and former President of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Ibinabo Fiberesima said; “I’m personally not against the general concept of the Big Brother Naija reality TV show and particularly love the reality bit that gives me an insight on housemates’ spontaneous reaction to issues, situations and their personal relationship within a confined space. I sincerely believe that this is the true intent of the show.
I also believe the show is meant to be an ensemble of bright Nigerian minds putting their skill sets to work in line with teamwork ethic, ability to work under pressure and the application of creativity in the actualization of assigned tasks. These are worthy attributes of any reality show especially one based on youth participation.
I believe the show has never demeaned culture, as it tries to showcase in each edition, the Nigerian peoples and culture. I recently commented on this via my Facebook handle days ago where I commended the showcase of my favourite Seki dance performance which involved a mimic of the Tor Tivs coronation; integrating a gathering of other cultures; Kanuri, Yoruba, Igbo, Idoma and the Riverine, an initiative that was sponsored by Heritage Bank Plc.
Sadly, the fact remains that a large percentage of the viewers are glued to the screen in the hope of catching the same indecency on a live show. The dubious entertainment aspect of the show is a lure. Young and old, male and female regardless of creed stay up at night to catch the potential viewing of free sex or sexual misdemeanour on the show especially after housemates must have indulged in excessive drinking and flirtatious dancing on their Saturday club outs. Let us not deceive ourselves. What else is bound to happen when you lump sexually active, young blooded youths into a common abode with hormones raging and alcohol on free mode?
Nobody is a saint, but then again sex is private, personal and should be treated as such. I won’t delve into the argument of if it is impossible to abstain for three months, which is irrelevant, as people are unique with diverse backgrounds, needs, and orientations, but the fact remains that what is private between two consenting individuals must remain private. Perhaps housemates may be cautioned to desist from sexual acts or better still the act itself be blocked from being broadcast”, she said.
While noting that the FG cannot ban the show as planned, controversial Lagos socialite and club owner, Mike Nwalie, a.k.a Pretty Mike of Lagos, who recently revealed plans create his own version of the show because the ongoing edition was becoming too boring, insisted that in spite of the FG’s plan to recreate the show, he would still go ahead with his initial plans.
“I would still go on with my own reality show. BBNaija is media, you cannot ban it totally; what they can do is say it can’t be aired at a certain time or on a certain channel. There are stations that show porn for crying out loud, so I don’t think the government can just shut it down. There might be speculations and rumours but it would not hold. Different strokes for different folks. Some people might like the ultimate search and the likes. It’s a TV program, I don’t think it’s right for the government to just stand and segregate one particular program for whatever reason. What they can do is censor some parts and not an outright ban. They are the government; they have the right to talk about anything and everything they want to talk about. Mine is a program and of course before you do anything in the society, you have to get your license and there will be rules and regulations. So as long as you are abiding by the rules, you’ll be fine”, he noted.
Meanwhile, reacting to FG’s complaint to NBC over live sex on the show, in an official statement signed by the Public Relation’s Manager, Startimes, Kunmi Balogun, noted that details of the talks with the FG on creating an alternative reality show would be made available to the media as soon as possible.
The statement reads; “Following reports of the Federal Government’s complain about indecent behavior and live sex on a TV show and talks about creating an alternative reality show, we have received media enquires requesting more information. The details of the talks about creating a mentally stimulating TV show which will portray our culture and heritage will be revealed fully within the coming weeks, once most of the necessary groundwork is completed and a commencement date firmed up.”