Saturday, September 26, 2020



Who wants BBN off air?

Who wants BBN off air?
August 05
05:52 2020

On July 24, 2020, this newspaper broke the story about Lai Mohammed, minister for Information and Culture, asking the NBC (National Broadcasting Commission) to take the Big Brother Naija (BBN), off the airwaves. That was barely four days after the reality show which is in its 5th season began on Sunday July 20 with a total of 20 contestants/housemates.


Although the reason given for this shutdown directive stemmed from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there were insinuations about the possibility of other underlying motives. Regardless of any perceived ulterior motives on the minister’s part, calling for BBN to be yanked off air, barely four days into its launch, isn’t the strangest proclamation from a Nigerian government official or political leader. And for all kinds of reasons, they’re particularly enamoured of the Big Brother franchise.

In 2008, Hon. Dino Melaye, then chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Information and National Orientation kicked against the 3rd season of Big Brother Africa. The summary of their position after high falutin grammar and moralising was that the show was ‘indecent.’ Then, like now, there were insinuations that Melaye had other reasons that were not so moralistic. Suffice it to say that the good honourable now Senator Melaye is now a patron of sorts for Big Brother Naija contestants. However, for what that was worth, something good did come out of that ‘flexing’ by the House of Reps. committee members. It was after that ‘intervention’ that the shower hour, which used to free for all, was made private and those who wanted it had to sign up for it.

Back to the issue of this year’s BBN being asked to be shut down, Lai Mohammed has since denied that he gave any such directive. In the statement from his spokesman Segun Adeyemi, he said among other things: “…We will not dignify speculative reports; if a minister issues a directive, it will not be issued verbally. There’s going to be a memo to that effect that he will send; anybody that is sure that the minister made that statement should provide a memo. Like I said earlier, we will not dignify speculative report…”


Now, it’s this denial which is not a denial because they cannot “dignify speculative reports,” said twice for emphasis, that actually has me thinking there must really be something to the original story. Why go to the trouble of releasing a statement when you don’t want to dignify a speculative report, a point that’s repeated twice? To make what point exactly? This kind of double denial elicits a ‘Thou doth protest too much’ quip. If it isn’t that some Nigerian office holders and their media aides seem to enjoy talking down at we the people, speculative or not, there’s nothing wrong in doing a simple statement denying the story. End of. To go to all that trouble yapping like someone in a bar room quarrel isn’t how to serve the people. The public official/aide must always bear in mind that there are people who really need to hear their side. If you need to fight with some unnamed ‘enemies,’ you may need another platform. And the trouble with not staying simple is that the lies stick out to a discerning person.

For instance, the statement says “if a minister issues a directive, it will not be issued verbally. There’s going to be a memo to that effect that he will send; anybody that is sure that the minister made that statement should provide a memo.” This is being clever by half. So, we are to believe that every directive that has ever proceeded from a minister in Nigeria has a memo to back it up? In any case, the original story didn’t say there was any memo.  I would believe this supposedly non-denial if the statement had said the minister didn’t ask for BBN to be taken off air, at any point, not verbally or otherwise. Because when a supposed innocent person, as part of a denial asks for the evidence of his/her crime to first be provided (instead of declaring their non-culpability), it raises more questions.

On a side note, let’s welcome the TSTVs (let’s pray it doesn’t become Tears TV), and even the HITVs.  But I’m still smarting from my abandoned HITV decoder. The promise to change the face of cable TV was never fulfilled. Instead, many subscribers like me were left with the short end of the stick-with decoders that weren’t even the most advanced to begin with. The long and short of this is that subscribers must be protected. It doesn’t matter whatever the political or personal calculations are.



Another way to say this: With representatives like Honourable Gabriel Saleh Zock, Southern Kaduna does not need enemies. Southern Kaduna has been in the news for all the wrong reasons, most of which are heart wrenching. News about killings in that part of Kaduna State has been everywhere and it will take a hardened heart not to feel emotions ranging from sadness to anger. Some people, usually not from Kaduna State have attempted to make #SouthernKadunaLivesMatter trend and considering how seriously most Nigerians took the Black Lives Matter fight, you’d think pushing this matter closer to home was going to be fairly easy.

However, all that may be outsiders weeping more than the bereaved because some who ought to be more concerned appear to be more interested in defending other people. Like Hon Gabriel Saleh Zock, also known as Gabriel Saleh, a Southern Kaduna House of Representatives member representing Kachia Kagarko Federal Constituency. The 34-year old was on Channels TV Sunrise Daily on July 27, 2020 to contribute to discussion tagged ‘Southern Kaduna Crisis.’ He joined in from Channels TV’s Abuja Studio while Col. Hassan Stan-Lubo (rtd) was in their Lagos Studio.

Hon. Saleh came prepared with one position only: The federal government should be held responsible for the crisis in Southern Kaduna. He wasn’t so clear on some other things. Whatever the question was, he always found a way to come back to that point. He’s asked: “How easy is for the people to cope with security operatives?” His answer: “We all know the government of Kaduna is working tirelessly to bring Kaduna to a brother and sister and one family. People are misunderstanding the governor…” then concludes by asking for state and local policing. How is this the answer to the question he was asked?


Here’s another question: “Could you give an example of the governor giving a directive that’s not followed?” Hon. Saleh starts by giving what he called a political example and Chamberlain Usoh, one of the hosts asked him to give another example. He starts rambling, and is stopped: “Why is the that the youths in Southern Kaduna are being arrested when they choose to defend themselves and the security operatives are not able to protect them when they’re being attacked?” Saleh’s direct answer: “Ok, when I had a meeting with the governor, we discussed about the issue of …SOKAPU (Southern Kaduna People’s Union) …You have elected House of Representatives which every problem of your constituency comes through them. That’s why you elected them to represent you not a group. Now you having a group and turning this group to a political problem. That is not what the governor is against. He’s not against any Southern Kaduna person trying to prevent or defend themselves. Now you see SOKAPU will just go on TV… how Kaduna governor did this, he did that. Somebody just told me Kaduna governor has failed the people, and I say that’s not true…” Chamberlain cuts in: “Is that why they’re being arrested?” I will save you his rigmarole but imagine a politician knocking his people for seeking political solutions to their problems.

Fortunately, in the Lagos Studio, Col. Stan-Lubo (rtd) had this to say of Hon Saleh Zock: “If he’s the representative of the people in the House, I’m afraid he’s not representing them well because he’s speaking from both sides of the mouth.” Col. Stan-Lubo (rtd) was also able to poke holes in Hon. Saleh’s main point about the state governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai being helpless because he doesn’t control the security operatives. Stan-Lubo while conceding the limitations a state governor has, cited the example of the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum who moves from one hot point to the other, trying to get the support of the security operatives. Furthermore, he maintained that the state governor remains his state’s chief security officer and so has the power to galvanise security operatives into action. How can Hon. Saleh be looking for the federal government that’s far away in the proverbial Sokoto but ignore the state government that’s in his Sokoto, figuratively-speaking? Is this a very bad case of Stockholm Syndrome? Shiftiness or plain cluelessness?


“The Presidency notes the resolution and reiterates that appointment or sacking of service chiefs is a presidential prerogative, and President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, will do what is in the best interest of the country at all times.”

-Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity responding to the call by legislators for the resignation of service chiefs.


I’m more interested in the timely reminder that President Buhari is still Nigeria’s commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces because there have been times one wondered- if really there was a functioning commander-in-chief. But what does his doing “what’s in the best interest of the country at all times” mean at this point exactly? The unending insecurity? Soldiers resigning? Sorry, I forgot that Nigeria is safer now than five years ago according to Chief of Army Staff Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who just happens to be one those service chiefs. To crown it, President Buhari has reportedly said “Nigerians know that we have done our best” as far as security is concerned. You know Nigerians and Nigeriens sometimes sound alike depending on the accent of the speaker. Let’s agree that all of Nigeria’s famed 200 million people know that the president has done his best. But then a person’s best, which is relative at best, may just not be good enough. The dire security situation calls for more than patronizing platitudes…

Nwabuikwu, AIRTIME columnist, is a renowned TV/film critic and film scholar. She also has experience in advertising as a senior copywriter and corporate communications as communications consultant.


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