23rd of July marked the return of Big Brother Nigeria to our screens, heralding what will be a three-month investment by Nigerians (mostly youths) in their TVs and DSTV subscriptions. The Big Brother Nigeria phenomenon is truly a network executive’s dream. Sponsors line up to have their brands on the show, and millions of Nigerian youth peer into their TV screens on a daily wishing they were on the show.
One thing is sure; the show has managed to captivate millions of viewers across the nation. However, despite its massive success and the eventual success of many contestants on the show, Big Brother Nigeria continues to face massive criticisms from many quarters. Many have called the show morally reprehensible and have complained about its strong adult content. Last year, former PDP gubernatorial candidate for Delta State, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, and the Arewa Youth Advisory forum appealed to the federal government to ban the show, citing it as ‘Immoral.’ They argued that a show of this nature ‘could corrode the minds of the younger generation, especially the teenagers.’
I’m not much of a fan of the show myself, but if you ever see/hear me ask for the show to be canceled, best believe I have lost my mind, and I’ll tell you why with these few points.
- According to the CEO of DSTV, 12,000 persons are employed every year for the show, costing the company 4.3 billion Naira.
- What your teenagers have access to watch in your home is your responsibility. Pick up your remote and child lock the station. Don’t stress the public.
- The attempt to infantilize Nigerian youths is disgusting. Youths are young adults and have a right to decide what they watch.
- The show is rated 18. That being said, there’s literally nothing you would see or hear on the show that 15-year-olds haven’t already seen or heard from watching a random movie.
Now, back to the big question. Is BBN a distraction to youths? I don’t think it’s a distraction; if anything, it’s an escape. For many youths, it provides an escape from the negativity bedeviling Nigeria. It allows them to witness the transformation of lives and the birthing of superstars right before their eyes. And to be honest, it’s magical and gives the people hope that their fortunes too could change for the better. Besides, I also think that if a TV show can distract us from the big picture, that is, the 2023 elections, then we probably don’t deserve better leadership.
Over the past few days, social media users have expressed concerns that many youths will be distracted by the show and thereby lose sight of the importance of the forthcoming elections in Nigeria. Some even opined that the be show be put on hold for just this year. However, I believe they are looking at this all wrong, and I’ll tell you why. Last year, ABEG was the headline sponsor of the show. At the beginning of the show, they had 20,000 users. By the time the show ended, ABEG had 1.8million users. That, ladies and gents, is the power of BBN. So instead of tweeting all these concerns, we should use the social media space to pressure the organizers of the show into using its platform to amplify the message of Voter registration/education and youth participation in politics. The impact of this would be massive, and a tad bit poetic. As a show tagged as ‘morally reprehensible’ could somehow play a major role in the 2023 elections.