Big Brother Naija as a poverty alleviation programme


By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah


It is no longer news that the Big Brother Naija show season Six Shine Ya Eye has ended with White Money taking home the grand prize of N90 million. No doubt Big Brother Nigeria is the most-watched and biggest show in the country. Winners and participants have literally become overnight celebrities.

I remember when it started this year, memes appeared on social media when some youths said they had handed over the problems of the country to the elders till after the end of the show. Remarkably, the CEO of DSTV in Nigeria had said it cost N4.3 billion to make the show happen this year.

He said this at the season 6 winner’s prize presentation, noting that they employed 12,000 persons for the show this year. The organisers also revealed that one billion votes were recorded this year from the viewers. In a country where less than 10 percent of the voting population vote in our general election, this is huge.

Many youths are actually more excited in heated discussions of Angel‘s mammary glands, fighting, or situationships in the house than who governs them at all levels. Like some will say, the Big Brother Naija show was a welcome distraction from the killings and other malaise going on in the country. Who can blame them?

However for the past two to three seasons, the show is gradually losing its excitement, allure and it is fast turning into a poverty alleviation program. Most Nigerians love to relate with grass to grace stories and this has been abused severally in the country.

BBNaija winner, Whitemoney

We have records of presidents and governors winning elections in this country because they said they have no shoes growing up and not because they laid out a blueprint on how they are going to transform the lives of Nigerians. We are like that; appeal to our sentiments and emotions and you are on your way to Eldorado.

In the first week of the show, when White Money was always harping on how he came from the streets and was telling stories on how he has been struggling to break through in life, I immediately knew he was going to emerge as the winner of the show. I don’t know if it was a strategy or not but it worked. Since the advent of the show, this year’s edition was the most predictable as many Nigerians, including myself, predicted the top five finalists and the order it will be.

I make bold to say White Money, Laycon, and Efe won the shows because Nigerians see in them the average hustler on the streets who needs to break the chains of poverty and succeed in life. For the records, I don’t have any problem with this.

What this goes to show is that to emerge the winner of the show, just go into the house and prove to Nigerians that you are from the streets and come from a humble background and you are on your way to clinching the grand prize.

The organisers must do everything they can to add more spice and impermanence to the show next year as it stands the risk of losing its appeal if Nigerians can predict the winner of the show from week one.

This again brings to the fore the arguments on youth participation in governance in the country. In recent years, voter turnout in elections was abysmally poor with the local government and state elections the worst hit.

Nigerians, especially the youths, should begin to show more concern about who governs them at all levels. The same zeal used to make White Money emerge as the winner of the show should be extended to our elections to bring in people with competence and capacity.

I have said it consistently that the president alone cannot change the fortunes of the country.

Till we begin to vote for quality candidates at the local government, state house of assembly, governors, and national assembly levels, utopia would continue to be wishful thinking.

Nda-Isaiah is the Political Director, Leadership Newspapers.

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