by Nwachukwu Egbunike
The nation may once again play host to the Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) III very soon. Naturally, this has generated public outrage from Nigerians who feel that the values projected by the programme are not only un-African but also morally deprived. What appears rather strange is the National Broadcasting Commission’s (NBC) muteness on this revolting show. This is an instance where silence cannot be qualified as golden.
From inception, the BBN was been greeted with a loud and persistent outcry from many people. Dr Latetitia A’daudu in her Big Brother Nigeria (The Guardian, May 10, 2006) stated that, “the constant manner in which these inmates are watched is reminiscent of the way children go to watch caged animals in the zoo”. Similar remarks have been made in succeeding years. Dr. Reuben Abati, Big Brother Africa II – Pornography and Money (The Guardian, September 16, 2007); Mr Leo Uzo, We do not want Big Brother III (The Guardian, June 10, 2008 ) and Mr Tayo Fagbula, Big Brother III (The Guardian, June 18, 2008). If I still remember correctly, the House of Representatives condemned the show last year.
NBC has many statutory responsibilities. Some of which are: “regulating and controlling the broadcast industry; promoting Nigerian indigenous cultures, moral and community life through broadcasting; regulating ethical standards and technical excellence in public, private and commercial broadcast stations in Nigeria; determining and applying sanctions including revocation of licenses of defaulting stations which do not operate in accordance with the broadcast code and in the public interest;” etc., (cf: National Broadcasting Commission Decree No 38 of 1992, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria and National Broadcasting Commission (Amendment) Decree No 55 of 1999).
The NBC, from the foregoing, owe an explanation to Nigerians why the programme is still being inflicted on us. Perhaps they are not yet aware of the broadcast, though I rather doubt that. The content of BBN does not promote any Nigerian culture, is totally immoral and does grave damage to the family. Besides, it does not satisfy any of the conditions mentioned in the laws laid down for broadcasting in Nigeria. The NBC must therefore put a stop to this show of shame because they are empowered to do so. It cannot shrink its responsibilities in this regard. I do not intend to go into the casuistry of the reasons why Big Brother should be banned, as the articles cited (in the second paragraph) above have dully exhausted it.
Currently, the most fashionable approach to moral issues is to say many things without saying anything, i.e. being ‘politically correct’. Thus the glide path is to avoid any contentious issue, so as not to hurt the sensitivities of some people who do not like the truth. In summary, you either avoid taking a stand, or side the powerful minority. The prevailing ‘wisdom’ is that it is primitive and outlandish to tackle moral questions. If you insist, then get ready to be branded as voyeuristic, hypocritical or Victorian. Interestingly, this was the reasoning of Mr Adekuunle Shotubo in Letters to the Editor (The Guardian, June 22, 2008).
Does not mean that the truth has to be sacrificed on the altar of enlightenment or progress? The BBN is not only morally bankrupt but also a slight on the value system of this country. It is a canonization of idleness, bitterness, knavishness – vices that are totally un-brotherly – and a brutal assault on the traditional values of the family. At the risk of sounding redundant, I return to my original proposition that BBN can neither pass as an educational nor an entertainment programme. Above all, Big Brother is creating a new trend, an abuse of the individual’s privacy and a deification of ‘false’ stardom (false because, the inmate who eventually wins does not posses any worthy talent that can be emulated). It’s only worth lies in the millions of naira that the initiators of programme rake in at the expense of Nigerians.
The National Broadcasting Commission should know that most Nigerians are waiting for them to act. It is my hope that the commission takes up this challenge and bring back sanity to our airwaves. This is not the time to siddon look. We are tired of medicine after death; the usual approach of offering apologies when the programme had already ran its course. The NBC should kindly stand up and be counted.
Republished in the Nigerian Village Square, Tuesday, August 5, 2008