For the umpteenth year, a spectacle was unveiled last Sunday as Big Brother Naija or BBNaija, undisputedly the biggest TV reality show in Nigeria, returned to the television screen of Nigerians with much fanfare. The 2023 edition, tagged: “Big Brother All Stars”, extends the reality TV show into its eighth season. This is the first time that the show will be having an all-star edition, just like its precursor, Big Brother Africa.
Although just a week after it began, the programme has already provided a lot of intrigue from the housemates, which has stimulated talking points for its ever-increasing fanbase and viewers. In just seven days, a combination of entertainment, arguments, fights, endurance and, of course, romance, has unfolded. Housemates have embarked on a series of coordinated activities as instructed by the invisible Big Brother and their activities, which have been eye-catching.
While some Nigerians have expressed a positive opinion towards the show, others have remained staunchly critical – a seemingly recurrent trend every year, particularly when the programme gains momentum. Before I go further, it is pertinent that I do a full disclosure: I once worked as a content writer for a PR consultancy group that handles the organiser’s communication brief. Will he have an independent opinion or be unprejudiced, some will vigorously ask or even assert.
And therein lies the dilemma… One does not need to be affiliated with the organisers or its vendors/third parties to have a forthright perspective of the reality TV show.
Some of the revilers of the show have rehashed the already regurgitated claim of it promoting “moral debauchery” among the Nigerian youth. Others have contended that the show has “lost its value” and the franchise should, therefore, be rested.
Hmmm! Tell that to the hundreds of youths that have passed through the show and have made their mark in their various fields of endeavour or say that to the thousands of youths who feel disgruntled for not being picked whenever they applied.
While the fault-finders are entitled to have dissenting opinions, BBNaija – as the shown is colloquially known – promotes the cultural diversity of Nigeria, as well as the creativity, astuteness, effervescence and resilience of young Nigerians transparently and prolifically. This has been accentuated already this season as the All-Stars – who had appeared as housemates from seasons two to seven of the show – willingly affirmed in their first Friday weekly task that the show enhanced their cultural knowledge of Nigeria and has allowed them to have better nuances of their country.
It has also taught the competitors to be tolerant of the cultural practices of ethnic groups as they all come from different ethnic backgrounds and different walks of life and come to live together in a secluded house for over 70 days. This, ultimately, aids in promoting unity amongst the Nigerian youth, especially at a time when ethnic division is rife in the country.
Also, the housemates get exposed to various new things unknown hitherto to them. They participate in simple and gruelling tasks assigned to them and these tasks test their physical and mental character and their intellectual capability, thereby unearthing new talents and learning new things. These tasks, whether appreciated or not, go a long way to help the housemates mould their persona, define their personalities and keep them well-grounded as they progress further in their endeavours.
For those who question the entertainment value of the show, I think it is time for such persons to dispassionately re-assess the show again. It showcases entertainment, humour, communality, lifestyle, pretence, romance, disagreement and rancour that occurs among Nigerians at its very best. Already, the show has provided premium entertainment in its first week as many of the housemates have showcased their boisterous personalities from their previous seasons once again and provided lots of content and talking points.
To crown it all, the opportunities in terms of the monetary reward and the publicity coverage that the housemates get from being on BBNaija is unrivalled in the Nigerian entertainment scene. The prize: N120 million in cash! That is very HUGE, especially considering that the country is somewhat in an austerity period following the removal of fuel scarcity and its attendant consequences felt across the nation. Other socio-economic benefits include a vehicle, a high-end smartphone, household items and investment stocks.
Let us also not forget that the show also provides a gigantic platform for the housemates to showcase themselves, their crafts and their businesses. It acts as a springboard for the housemates in their careers and introduces them to the corporate limelight. Many housemates in previous editions – including the current All-Stars housemates – have benefited from similar opportunities provided by the show.
The zeal and passion of these ex-housemates have been a source of inspiration to many young Nigerians, who see the reality show as a platform to launch their careers. They have experienced an upward trajectory in their careers and have gotten endorsements from various local and international brands. This speaks volumes about the value the show has in the country.
Back to those who claim BBNaija promotes “moral debauchery”, their opinion cannot be discountenanced. However, the show has been tagged as an 18-rated show. Therefore, only persons who are 18 years and above are entitled to view the show. While I am not holding brief for the organisers, it is known that they have continuously informed parents and guardians about activating the parental control option on their decoder via the remote control to prevent any kid who is up to the show’s age limit from gaining access to the station. In this way, the organisers ensure that they comply with the broadcasting codes to rate programmes and censor where necessary.
Furthermore, in acknowledgement that there might be sensual activities on the show, the organisers have taken careful measures to ensure that the extremely explicit scenes are not broadcast live on TV. Therefore, this feeling of vulnerability that has consistently gripped critics of the show can better be deployed in them, ensuring that underage individuals do not have access to watch the show.
Also, everyone is free to either watch the show or change the channel on their decoder with their remote control. So, those who believe the show stands against their values and principles can easily engage by doing the latter.
It is high time that the reiterated asseveration towards this entertaining and life-changing show should cease and allow those who revel the programme to relish it.