‘It’s an easy way to make money’
Some people have criticised the show as condoning immorality, considering the kinds of acts by some participants, who sometimes end up with big advertisement contracts and becoming the face of multinational companies.Speaking with The Guardian, Lagos-based corps member, Nyang Victor, said: “If you think about it critically, you’ll discover that this reality show actually poses a threat to the future of Nigeria. So, I urge our leaders to do their job by re-orientating the young Nigerians.”
But Jennifer Ibazebo, one of those that trooped to the audition centre in Lagos, said with the level of frustration in the country, entertainment is probably an alternative way forward. I guess there is talent for everything. “Everyone cannot be the same, if anyone doesn’t like the Big Brother channel, there are a whole lot of other channels to tune in to. Everyone has right to life.”
To Sylvester Odili, a pharmacist: “We are in such a hopeless situation where youths are looking for quick ways out of poverty and hopelessness that they intend to take part in a lot of immoral activities. Yet, these same youths would later go out this month to vote in the same gang of politicians who have plunged the country into chaos. What a vicious cycle of hopelessness.“If you tell these same youths to go into farming during the rainy season to better their lives, they would reject your advice, but they made it a priority to arrive at the audition location as early as 12:00am.
For Kadijat Ajala: “This has nothing to do with the government; it is just the desperation of our youths to get to that celebrity level.“Yes, the government is bad, but I just hope youths could use this same zeal and energy they are channelling towards Big Brother Naija (BBN) to vote out our bad leaders during the general election.”Fagbemigun Popoola, an evangelist, lamented that nowadays, people hardly reward ingenuity, creativity and high flyers in schools are not encouraged, let alone being rewarded.
“This is a sign of the end-time. The only reason why most people watch the BBN programme is because of selfishness and as a medium to gratify sensual appetite. The unfortunate thing is that our youths are no longer focusing on what is important to life, but seeking after easy success. “I hope Nigeria is not going through second colonialism, because these days, anything that comes from the so-called developed countries is the vogue, even when it is senseless. I know if some of us were probably alive during the slave trade era, we would have justified the acts. God will save Nigeria and Africa in general.”
Oliver Enwerenem, a former member in the Imo House of Assembly said unless the country’s problems are addressed, it would continue to witness youths drifting to such areas to engage themselves, economically, attributing the participation of those already employed to the quest for more money and wanting to belong.
Enwerenem said: “The craze for the BBN is largely due to unemployment, eagerness to make more money, lack of enabling environment for youths to do business and quest to belong.“In as much as government cannot provide all the employment, but there should be an enabling environment government should provide, which is lacking in Nigeria, but must be addressed.
“There is also the quest to be known. Those who go for such programmes fall into this category, especially those who have money, but despite being either employed or self-employed, who are also insatiable, always wanting to add more money to what they have. “There are also those who naturally want to indulge in immoral activities, who are drawn to such ventures.”
To tackle this, the former lawmaker said parents should play the pivotal roles of early preparation of their children in life to use their hyper-active days meaningfully, adding: “Parents should rise up to the occasion of bringing up their children well. They should make them pay less attention to such.
“Until the above are handled, we will continue to see our youths drifting to such emerging BBN.” A youth, Ngozi Chukwu, advised governors and society that celebrate such people when they emerge as winners to desist from such, noting: “I think, and seriously too, that the governors who celebrate the winners of such shows should stop forthwith, as this is not something to celebrate. Are you celebrating someone because he/she is publicly making love on the camera?
“Those who also encourage the winners of the BBN should have conscience and think aright.” She also urged the church and other religious bodies to come out and condemn such and society to discourage people from participating in immoral acts.
For Dr. Olusegun Temilola, a lecturer in the Sociology/Social Work Department, University of Lagos, some of the factors responsible include peer group pressure, wanting to be like the next person who is wealthy or famous overnight.“There is also the lack of understanding or ignorance of how life works; not being ready to go through the process of time; lack of or delayed gratification or microwave mentality; worldliness or materialistic spirit, i.e. success is measured by one’s possessions; as well as lack of good parental background or home training.
“Others are bad government and inadequate censorship of individuals, groups, societies and institutions, for example, overnight wealth, non-recognition of core socio-cultural values and virtues, such as hardwork and diligence.“There is a whole gamut of points precipitating the craze for money amongst the young and adolescents in our society, needless to say that the solution appears to be faraway for now, except God intervenes with a very good government.”
Chief Executive and Co-Founder Jobberman, Ayodeji Adewunmi, said the massive turnout at the recent BBN auditions is a symptom of the high unemployment rate in the country, noting: “I think in life, one of the things people do, and it is important in life, is to have options. So, if you are a pilot doesn’t mean you will want to remain same for the rest of your life, you may potentially be interested in certain things that you are passionate about and maybe fame is one of them.
“When people have options, they get into a situation where they can be more and even form a self-actualisation point of view, and they are happier. “So, I don’t necessarily think the transition is extreme, because we find this is other societies and markets that are obviously more developed than what we have in Nigeria.”
He added: “Globally, one of the things a lot of people pursue is not just money, but fame. Even though the turnout may not be as massive as we had, but then the huge money attached to it with the fame and brand endorsements that follow will interest any young people.
“The reason why organisations are going for more entertainment-inclined programmes and sponsorship is because they attract a lot more attention and eyeballs. That is the justification for a marketing director who considers which will yield better result for the company, either by hosting an academic show or inviting a Wizkid and Burnaboy to entertain the students.
“The effect in our society is very obvious. When you look at the budgetary allocations, the amount of money that goes into education is a maximum of nine per cent, while UNESCO’s standard says 25 per cent. This explains the half-baked graduates we find today and those are some of the issues we are facing today. “A lot of it is weak policies and a whole lot more lies in individuals choosing to be a better person, which is not so easy in our times.”
To Dr. Raphael James, a psychologist, poor pay package, such as low salary, rather than quest for fame, is one reason the employed take part in such shows. “Many Nigerians have jobs that they are not proud of. Some Nigerians are eager to get fast money with little stress. So, sometimes it is not about fame, but about the money.”
He reckoned that because most Nigerians don’t read, corporate organisations are only investing in putting their money where their mouth is, saying: “The youths are lazy and anything that will make them not to read will interest them, so also will it interest corporate bodies.
“It will affect us so much as a nation, in fact, it has started affecting us. Today, we have medical doctors that will give wrong diagnosis and mechanical engineers that don’t know a fuel pump of a car. Quick money ends quickly, as it comes so it goes, because it came without proper planning.”
On the role of parents, James lamented that most parents are supporting and even sponsoring their children and wards in that direction, because they, too, have been tired of working for years with little or nothing to show for it and want their children to get fast money.
“That is the reason we have more cases of rituals now in town with female pants (underwear) disappearing every day. “The youth of Nigeria are becoming tired of the bad system we have, poor governance, no quality jobs, poor maintenance culture, etc, and are eager to breakthrough faster than ever before.”He counselled: “Nigeria has to go back to building high morals and culture when respect was valued than money, when people were honoured because they deserved to be honoured and not because they had enough cash to buy honour.
“We have to go back to quality education and start reading again, start thinking of what we can do for Nigeria as a nation and not only what Nigeria can do for us.”Gladys Ademola, an unemployed, would have loved to go for BBN show if she wasn’t married, saying: “It’s a great medium for me to become a star, to be well known and the money is very attractive as well.
“If my husband allows me, I will go, but my fear is that Nigerians love to criticise married people that appear on such reality shows, telling them to go home and face their marriage. “I don’t have singing or acting talents, so BBN is what is left for me and if I can, I would love to be a housemate.”If Chiemena Ayanniyi, also unemployed, had the opportunity of going for BBN before getting married, she would have grabbed it with two hands.
“I think I would be a good fit because I am an adventurous person and it would give me the exposure I need for my business. I think it would help boost my business and interacting with different people of different cultures and way of life is an added bonus.
‘If my husband agrees that I can go, it would be a wonderful adventure for me.”Ayanniyi said even if she were in paid employment, she would have left her job gladly to participate in the show, but wouldn’t do everything that housemates do. “Even if I were not married, I wouldn’t partake in everything they do. I won’t have sex with another housemate, no matter what. In fact, not just BBN, but also any reality show I see an opportunity to go for, I will attend because it is a huge platform for exposure. The world is a huge place and as a human being, you are a market on your own and can sell your brand to the world.”
On what the show teaches and impacts, she said: “It depends on what you are going there for, because I believe the show is very educational and impactful. You learn a lot from staying in the house, such as to live with people, to share, to endure, in fact, you learn a lot. I learnt a lot from Cee-Cee and Tobi in the last season, when to leave, when to say certain things and when to keep quiet.
“People that say they didn’t learn anything are not being truthful, because the show is a microcosm of real life. It is very educational as far as I am concerned.” Chinedu Ukameole, a second year student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), said reality shows, such as BBN, hold no attraction for her and she would never watch or participate.
“No matter how much is promised, I wouldn’t be free in the house, as it is not my person. If it were an educational show on the other hand, I would participate. “For me, BBN is not educative enough; it is for lazy people and most youths have now seen it as an easy way to make money. Nobody supports educational shows and for the few that do, the prizes are nothing to write home about. You hear best graduating students being given N5, 000 as prize.“It is no wonder most youths rush to attend reality shows, where they would be rewarded handsomely for doing and knowing nothing.”
Taiwo Dipeolu doesn’t mind watching once in a while, but he would never participate. “I cannot attend such because it is like being locked up in a cell. I won’t be free to do the things I want to do. “Also, I won’t be able to meet my friends and do the normal things I do daily. No, it is not for me. The money is attractive, but not enough for me to abandon my life for three months,” he said.
Aspiring actress, Ofeoritse Aduku-Pinawou, who has always dreamt of winning such a reality show, added: “I’ll love to go, because it is the perfect opportunity to kick-start and build my career. “I want to be an actress and this would help me achieve my goals. I am not particular about the money, but it is a platform to showcase myself and for people to know me.
“My mother might not want me to go, but I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity if I got it.”Stanley Chukwudike, a 21-year-old undergraduate, would never be involved in rituals for whatever reason, because it is inhuman, but wouldn’t mind participating in a no-brainer reality shows, such BBN.
“Reality show is a win-win for me all the way. Why go through the long and perhaps never ending route of hardwork and perseverance principle to success and wealth when I can be involved in a reality show or competition and make cool cash that I might never make even if I work in an organisation for 10 years or more?”
Kolawole Obadina, an unemployed graduate, said the situation in the country does not give room for sanity; hence quite a number of young ones are involved in yahoo plus and now the trending pant saga for money rituals. “Can you blame them? The act is unethical, evil and barbaric. You think it is only yahoo plus boys that uses pant for rituals? No, even our politicians who eventually emerged leaders are involved in the evil deeds for wealth and fame too.
“As a matter of fact, if well researched, I wouldn’t be surprised if 70 per cent of money rituals in Nigeria would be traced back to our politicians. Don’t be surprised if this pant ritual saga is not really a yahoo plus thing, but politicians,’ after all, the issue started this season, which of course is a political season, at this time when all of them are desperate for wealth and win.
Obadina, however, added that, aside yahoo plus and anything fraudulent or taking another person’s life, he would jump from one reality show to another for the easy money it brings.
“I have attempted Gulder Ultimate Search once and didn’t get in. I wanted to audition for BBN, but when I realised a lot of people would also participate in the audition, I decided not to waste my time. “But trust me, if I eventually get a job today and get an opportunity to go for BBN, I would go without a second thought. What is there to do, the easy task or the random sex? I get to enjoy myself all the way and still make money if I emerge winner,” he said.
For Mrs. Alabi Omowunmi, a secondary teacher and parent, Nigeria is in a situation where parents no longer question their children’s income or the means of income. “Morality and ethics are gone to the drain. Parents just go to church or mosque to pray for their children to flourish without minding where the money they bring home comes from. A lot of them do ‘don’t ask- don’t tell-don’t know.’
“What you don’t know does not kill you. The worst part is, some of these parents know their children are involved in yahoo yahoo, but ignorantly see it as smartness. “Not long ago, a mother of one of my old students whom I discovered didn’t go to higher institution and only two years after graduation from high school acquired a jeep and bought a house for the parents, said her son is very intelligent and knows how to use the computer so well that he makes a lot of money from using the computer. I realised the woman was ignorant and didn’t have information about her son’s fraudulent deeds.
“So, I think parents have more work to do in resolving the decadence in our society. There shouldn’t be room for ignorant parenting. Parents should learn and unlearn the rhythm of their children’s lifestyle, especially peer group. They should create time to talk to their children, know them, bring themselves down to their level, be their peer, be inquisitive, ask questions and ensure to follow up the answers given. “Know your children’s friends because these are the people that make or mar them. We should all be aware that a ruined family is a ruined nation,” she said.
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