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Reuben Abati’s article on Big Brother Naija (especially TBoss) is a must read


What
a relief! So, the Big Brother Naija reality television programme is
finally over. It ended Sunday evening with 23-year old Efe Michael
Ejemba, University of Jos graduate of Economics and singer winning the
N25 million + SUV at stake, with 57.6% of the votes from over 24 million
voters across Africa. Warri, where Efe’s family lives, erupted in
excitement.

At the Multichoice viewing centre in Ikeja, Lagos, where
Katung Aduwak took charge so brilliantly, there was a similar eruption
of incandescent joy. I was relieved because for about 70 days, the Big
Brother Naija show was a big distraction, crass capitalism at its most
cynical edge, a source of unmanageable madness in homes and on the
streets. Now that it is over, it is time for some honest frank talk for
the attention of all stakeholders involved.

Let me start with the
lessons, on a positive note, before delivering the blows.

 Lesson one: In
a very instructive manner, the Big Brother Naija reality television
show promoted the ideas of choice and people power at the heart of
democracy. Televised across Africa, the viewers had the final say in
determining who stayed in the house or left during eviction moments on
Sundays. The votes were collated, audited and confirmed by Deloitte, a
firm of auditors and thus, the viewer as the voter determined the
outcomes. In that regard, a reality show of that sort promoted a
consciousness of democracy, choice and influence and it further
explained why the people from Nigeria to Cape Agulhas all the way up to
the Mediterranean sea took fierce ownership of the programme. In a
continent where power is the ultimate aphrodisiac and every access to
power, fame and influence is seen as an opportunity to oppress and
demean, whatever is done to promote a consciousness of choice and the
civil society is laudable. Multi choice, thanks.

Lesson Two: in
every business concept, perseverance pays. Multichoice has been running
its Big Brother Naija and Big Brother Africa concepts for a number of
years. Apparently, this year’s Big Brother Naija has been the most
impactful, the most profitable and probably also, the most exciting. In
one week, over 11 million persons voted to determine the eviction. In
the final week of the programme, over 24 million persons voted – that is
more than the total number of persons who voted in the Nigerian
Presidential election in 2015. This year, Multichoice has made more
money from the Big Brother franchise than it has ever done. The
programme was sponsored by PayPorte, and with all the voting, and the
money spent on recharge cards, Big Brother and Multichoice are the
biggest winners. In the end, it is all about business and profit.
Everybody has been used. In business, once you have a good, attractive
product and you can capture the market, you can fool everybody and make
profit. Multi choice, weh done – in Falz, the bad guy’s voice.

Lesson
three: humility pays. At the end of the day, in the last week of the
programme, the decision by the viewing public was a moral, sentimental
one. The biggest star of the programme was, I don’t know what you think,
TBOSS (real name: Tokunbo Idowu), half Nigerian, half-Romanian. She
dominated the space with her Jezebelic antics, even got some of the male
participants ousted by entrapping and outsmarting them with her sexual
wiles. She projected herself as a sex object, the ultimate manipulator,
the champion Delilah of the Big Brother Africa series. She even made a
joke of the entire Big Brother concept by saying she didn’t need the
money and if she won, she would spend it in two weeks to pay off debts,
and in any case, she had men hitting on her, offering to take her on a
ride in their private jets. She played the role of a female barracuda.

Given
her looks and talents, she would have been a perfect winner. She would
have looked good on the billboards. But she lost because of her
arrogance. Attitude is everything: this is the lesson of TBOSS’s
disgrace and humiliation. When she was sent out of the House as the
second runner up, the viewing centre in Ikeja, Lagos, including Kemen
whose nemesis she was, danced in joy. “They are taunting me?” she asked
Ebuka, the anchor. No, sweetheart, they were making a far more serious
statement about you. The melodramatic ending of Big Brother Naija 2017
is its only redeeming outcome. Bisola, the first runner up does not even
have a degree but she showed talent and resolve, even if her whorish
flirtation with Thin Tall Tony is so cheap and self-denigrating.

Her
One-Nigeria consolation prize is something big she should take
seriously. Efe won because of his humility. He is considered the poorest
and the most needy of the contestants. Patrons of the programme chose
to vote for the contestant who looked and sounded like he would need the
money and the opportunity. They gave him a chance in life, although the
organizers must ensure that going forward, the show does not become a
poverty alleviation scheme. Bisola came second because she too looked
like she needed help. Debbie Rise and Marvis also made the finals, but
that was meant to be a great compliment to their good conduct, but they
didn’t have enough support to make it to the top. TBOSS is the main star
who lost. I hope she was taken out of South Africa with a private jet
or maybe a submarine! Beauty is not everything, baby.

READ
Iyabo Ojo clocks 40, visits less privileged home to celebrate (photos)

Lesson four:
Marketing helps. Branding is everything. Propaganda is profitable.
Packaging is nice. Big Brother Naija is nothing but marketing, branding,
propaganda, and packaging. A reality show is supposed to be nothing but
reality, virtual reality as it happens, but let no one deceive you,
everything that happened in the 70 days of BBNaija was packaged,
marketed, carefully branded and manipulated. Ebuka, the Big Brother,
thumbs up, the scenic designers, kudos, the content developers, three
hearty cheers, Multichoice, you guys are the smartest capitalists
around, well done! The finale was a bit overdone though, dragged out,
over-delayed. Tiwa Savage (hey baby, watch that growing
fat around your waist and thigh), Tuface (thanks TuBaba but next time
tell Annie to twerk for us- what was that!). In all, the power of
television was well advertised.

Now the hard knocks: I rate the
theatre high but I consider the whole show a sham, a 419 manipulative
effort by a corporate agency, long overdue for an ethical review and
scrutiny, a bad influence on corporate ethics. The owners of the
programme are just a bunch of insultive, manipulative and exploitative
capitalists, feeding on public need for distraction and the negligence
of the authorities. Big Brother Naija 2017 is something that should
never happen again in the shape we have seen. If Multichoice as a
corporate investor wants to make a contribution to Nigeria, it must find
ways of doing so in more meaningful forms.

Reality shows have
become an established form on television, but whereas there are reality
shows that promote talent, music, human capability and genius, enhanced
relationships, and intellect, 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 organizers made money devaluing other human
beings. Multichoice and Payporte, the sponsors, turned alcohol and
pornography into legitimate sport.

TBOSS and the other girls
kissed and got groped by the boys on live television putting their
upbringing to shame. TBOSS, who claimed she didn’t need the money even
exposed her breasts on live television more than once. I have seen
better breasts TBOSS. I am not too sure those private jet owners will be
excited by your fluffy, South-looking, slightly bigger than mangoes
breasts. If the same men see bigger assets, I mean, those interesting
Ojiakor-like ones that look like papayas, pineapples and watermelons,
they will not send private jets, they will deploy submarines and fighter
jets! And that ‘s why you got N500k in the end, way back behind Bisola
with her hard facial features, and Efe whose victory is based on poverty
logistics and appeal. But I have no doubt that TBOSS will end up doing
better in the larger, outside market than the other finalists, because
even those who did not vote for her, know in their hearts that she
represents the message of the programme.

It is a wrong message and
that is why Big Brother Naija drew more audience in Southern Nigeria
than in the North. In the last week of the programme,, every town in
Southern Nigeria was seized by the #BBNaija fever. Prayers were offered
in churches for Efe. One lady threatened to commit suicide if Efe did
not win. Another one said she would not stop crying until Efe won.
Nollywood stars declared support for housemates. There was Team Bisola,
Team Efe, EfeNation, TBOSSNation, TeamDebbieRise (small), TeamMarvis
(even smaller). There were public processions even in universities. We
were told how to vote. Twitter was on fire.

What I saw was nothing but
sheer madness. T-shirts were printed. One musician turned his personal
car into a billboard. Nigeria became a mad house because of one reality
television show. It looked like mass hypnotism at work.
But it
should not be allowed to happen again. BBNaija should not be hosted and
staged in South Africa as has been the case. Multichoice, Payporte and
their partners made crazy money and got brand promotion off the back and
sweat of Nigerians. Do the maths; we got peanuts in return. We were
told BBNaija could not be staged in Nigeria due to electricity problems
so the studio had to be in South Africa. And the Nigerian government
looked the other way. Wawu! All the billions that the South Africans are
running away with, after giving our boy a Kia SUV and some N25m, who is
going to collect the Value Added Tax on that? Nigeria or South Africa?
See the real Gobbe! All the staff who worked on the programme with
extremely marginal exception were South Africans. Where were the
Nigerians? Abi, Lobatan oh.

The Nigerian government must assert
itself. Nobody henceforth must brand anything involving primary
production, Nigerian off Nigerian soil. We can’t get far by wearing
made-in-Nigerian clothes on Mondays and Wednesdays, turning the country
into an extension of Nollywood, but we can gain a lot by insisting that
economic production and profit based on Nigerian talent and resource
must have significant Nigerian content.

Congratulations Efe; the grace of God is forever sufficient, but sorry Nigeria.

Kemisola Adeyemi

Kemisola Adeyemi is the Assistant Editor of Kemi Filani News. She loves to write and write and write and hopes to own a publishing firm someday! Email: [email protected]

4 Comments

  1. Thanks Rueben, Nigerians did not show recession in their voting. Bob Marley sang 'u can fool some people someday, but u can't fool all the people all the time. How long, will u be fooled?

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