Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) is in its sixth season and it has, each successive year, given Nigerians, Africans and fans the world over premium entertainment every time the show is screened. Asides the conversations and actions fromprivileged housemates that become trending topics on social media worldwide, itcan be said that the reality show is arguably one of the most anticipated fromNigeria since its debut.
There are various elements to the show that make it unique. Just as universitygraduates are drawn from all over the world and drafted to different states inNigeria for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), the organisersof BBNaija tediously select a mix of housemates from thousands of applications,isolate them for weeks during which they are subjected to various psychologicaland health evaluations, before being allowed in to the house.
When they come in, most are identified to be well read in various fields ofendeavour as lawyers, engineers, musicians, models, doctors, mediaprofessionals etc. In fact, this year, we saw a polymath in medical doctor,Yerins, who mesmerised housemates with his vast knowledge and dexterity.Engineers also had a representative in Saga and lawyers in JMK, among other professionals. The array of young Nigerians on the show continues to emphasizethe power of the average Nigerian to succeed against all odds.
Ifone also ever needs proof of how the Big Brother show is changing lives, thensome Ex BBNaija housemates who had the chance to create and build themselves upafter the show (winners or not) will be a pointer.
Ebuka Obi Uchendu is a testament of the success that the Big Brother franchise offersto young and positive minded Nigerians. Despite finishing eighth during thefirst edition of the BBNaija series in 2006, he is unarguably one of the mostsuccessful ex-housemates till date. Asides now hosting the show, he hasremained one of the most visible celebrities for brands and events.
Miracle Igbokwe, BBNaija season three ‘Double Wahala’ winner, with his winnings wasable to achieve his dreams by enrolling in an Aviation school and graduated acertified instrument pilot. Mercy Eke, BBN season four ‘Pepper Dem’ winner,launched her real estate ‘Lambo’ homes, got her own reality show and became oneof the most sought-after brand ambassadors in the country. Olamilekan Agbelese,aka Laycon, BBNaija season five ‘Lock Down’ winner got the chance to pursue hismusic career and released an album shortly after the show and rose toprominence as one of the most listened to musical artistes with an army ofloyal fans referred to as Icons.
Now, being on the Big Brother show makes everyone a winner, whether you walkaway with the multi-million naira top prize or not.
The organizers and affiliate brands, each year, engage content curators toformulate weekly tasks during the entire duration of the show that tacklecogent societal issues that affect Nigerians. Topics have ranged from infant andmaternal mortality, drug abuse, financial intelligence, rape, girl educationand very recently, a task on mental health which housemates were tasked on last week.
Avery memorable task was the ‘Girls Count’ project sponsored by ONE.org where the‘See Gobbe; housemates were tasked with ONE’s ‘Back to school’ campaignfocusing on girls’ education which Bisola Aiyeola won. The ‘Girls Count’campaign recognizes that globally, 130 million girls are out of school andasked citizens of the world to enroll them in school, while also asking leadersto act. Housemates were asked to put together a presentation based oninformation and statistics about girls’ education in Nigeria from ONE’s‘Poverty is Sexist’ policy report.
Housemates highlighted the barriers to girls’ education in Nigeria and presented variedsolutions to how every Nigerian girl completes education up to secondary level.Bisola, as winner, would later take the campaign to the United Nations GeneralAssembly later that year with remarkable success.
The various tasks by supporting brands during the show also come with various cashsums and privileges attached and many have, after the show, leveraged suchopportunities to get ahead in life. Take for example, ex-housemates Tobi Bakre, Dorathy, Mike Edwards, Seyi Awolowo, Ozor, Nengi and many others who have become some of themost sought-after brand endorsers on the African continent. BBN season 5: LockDown housemate, Luciana Edet, who had the opportunity to open up herbusiness and bagged a deal with ‘Get Fit’ waist trainer. The kicker is shewasn’t even close to being one of the finalists.
Other contestants on the show like Lucy, some who even left in the second week, havehad the opportunity to go on to successfully start their own businesses, build theirown brands and bagged numerous endorsement deals. One of such is Lilo Aderogba. This was an opportunity that they never knew they could getuntil they stepped into the BBNaija house.
Besides changing lives and bringing people to the limelight, Big Brother Naija is asocietal reflection of us as a people. The housemates are carefullyselected from as many cultural groups and are made to undertake tasks thatcelebrate our cultural diversity and heritage in unison. The show promotescontestants from different Nigerian ethnicities and even Nigerians who are dualcitizens of other countries like BBNaija season 4 runner up, Mike Edwards, a British-Nigerian and Singh Nini of the current season six ‘Shine Ya Eye’ who isan Indian-Nigerian can compete. In summary, there is neitherdiscrimination nor religious affiliations on the show. Everybody is welcome, aslong as one has Nigerian roots. I strongly believe that the Nigerians andcritics can take a page out of the show’s book on patriotism.
The show also charts a course for transparency, accountability and right standingwith every series. In Big Brother’s house, you have food, shelter,opportunities to better your life, a transparent government (as demonstrated bythe Head of House games and weekly tenures) and every vote(s) count. The showorganisers ensure that transparency and accountability is the watch ward ofevery stakeholder. Housemates are given rule books to abide by and defaulters are punished. This helps them be model citizens through-out the show and later in life.
The house mates are allowed to be themselves and show their individual identitiesto allow fans select and vote for their favourites. No one is allowed tocanvass for votes or shown any preferential treatment. This could be helpful tothe nation’s political system even.
It is common knowledge that the Big Brother franchise is a huge multi-billion naira investment yearly. The show, each year, employs over a thousand professionals in various fields; artisans, technicians, media, fashion and entertainment and so forth for a hitch free show and has proven to be immensely beneficial to economic empowerment, thereby contributing to elevation of many Nigerians who may otherwise, been unemployed, frustrated and may inadvertently opt for intellectual flight to other countries thus further contributing to the brain drain in our dear nation.