BBNaija: Television As Madness _ a Must Read, By Reuben Abati - Aluta News
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BBNaija: Television As Madness _ a Must Read, By Reuben Abati

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.
Multichoice, 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. Multichoice, 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.
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.
Aliko Dangote at 60
Alhaji Aliko Dangote is 60 and understandably
the entire country is busy paying tributes. He is
the richest man in Africa, but more than that he
is one of the most successful, forward-looking
and resourceful entrepreneurs in the entire
continent. He has investments and connections
virtually everywhere.
I think a special remark should be made about
his less known attribute – his humility and
humanity. Aliko Dangote, for all those who
have related with him closely, is a very humble
man. His life is not driven by money, but belief
in hardwork and the impact that he is able to
make. He is helpful, supportive and kind, always
believing he can make a difference. I offer a
special testimony.
Many years ago, before the Abuja job, I used to
visit Aliko at home, sometimes on my own and
sometimes with my family. On one occasion, he
gave my first son money as he saw us off to
the door. It was that kind of money that caused
a fight between father and son. My son wanted
to hold on to it, and there I was insisting the
boy must hand over the money because it was
enough to pay his and his sibling’s school fees.
The innocent boy said the money was for him.
How could it have been for him? We resolved
the fight, big fight, right there, with Aliko
pretending not to notice.
On another occasion, Aliko asked if I had built a
house and I told him I was building a house
somewhere in Ajah. This was in 2006. He said
we should go there. He jumped into my
miserable Tokunbo car and followed me to the
uncompleted building. He walked round the
building and asked me what I wanted. He ended
up giving me enough cement to complete the
house and the money to paint it. He told me I
should contact him if I wanted to build any
other house, but after that other house, I
stopped bothering him, because it was obvious
the bricklayers knew cement was free, and they
were busy taking advantage.
I went to Abuja to work. The true story of that
job is best told by Aliko Dangote, Mr Alex Ibru,
Rotimi Amaechi, Femi Otedola and Ojogbane
Adegbe. They supported me as best as they
could without interference. It was Oronto
Douglas who made the phone call. One day,
every story will be told. Thank you Alhaji, for
being a friend and a brother. Thank you. May
you see many more seasons.

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