By Mike Ebonugwo, Prince Osuagwu, Emmanuel Elebeke, Princewill Ekwujuru & Favour Ulebor
LAGOS —THE Federal Government has questioned the shooting of the Sunday’s relaunch of Big Brother Naija in South Africa, provoking mixed reactions.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has directed the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the reported shooting of the ongoing reality show in South Africa.
The minister, yesterday, directed the NBC to determine whether MultiChoice, by shooting the show in South Africa, has breached the Nigerian Broadcasting Code in any way, as well as the issue of possible deceit, since the viewing public was never told that the event would be staged outside Nigeria.
He, however, warned that “as a country of laws, only the outcome of the investigation will determine our next line of action.”
Mohammed appealed to concerned Nigerians, who he said had bombarded his office with calls, complaining about the alleged anomaly (of shooting outside the country a show meant for Nigerians), to remain calm while the NBC investigates the issue and submits its findings.
Many Nigerians have condemned the decision of the organisers to take the show outside the shores of the country, claiming that it was nothing short of capital flight for a company that makes 90 percent of its revenue from Nigeria.
However, it was not all criticisms for the company as some Nigerians contended that the government should not bother itself with business decisions of a private company but rather put infrastructure that would attract investors to the country.
Reacting to the matter, veteran actor and director, Bimbo Manuel, said someone needs to explain what informed the decision of the company to take the filming of the reality show out of the country.
“Is it for technical reasons, shortage of competent hands, political or economic reasons? I am not for any punitive measure against anyone involved in the process but to listen, study and understand whatever reasons they give and use it to grow our local industry. We may consider deterrents but uninformed reactions will not help the industry,” he said.
A foremost film producers in the country and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Association of Movie Producers, Chief Eddie Ugbomah, described the choice of shooting the reality show in South Africa as an insult on Nigerians.
“I have been shouting following the ugly activities of South African companies in Nigeria in the past eight years. The reality TV show, which they organised about three months ago, called Nigeria Voice was shot in South Africa, but they made us to believe that it was shot in Nigeria. This is an insult on the country,” Ugbomah remarked.
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But popular film director, Lancelot Imasuen, was indifferent to the matter. He said: “It’s absolute nonsense. Do they even realise that Multichoice is a private business concern? Are they not paying tax? Do you know what it cost to run a production office daily as a result of the darkness we found ourselves in Nigeria?”
Also, founder and president of Leadership Watch, a non-governmental organisation, Dr Martins Iwuanyanwu, queried the priority of government’s action in this regard.
According to him, “the Federal Government should concern itself with more pertinent issues of governance than why MultiChoice should choose South Africa as a location to shoot its programme.”
Mr Muyiwa Akintunde,Chief Executive Officer and Lead Consultant at Leap Communications, shares the same sentiment, while describing the decision as a populist move by government to distract the attention of Nigerians from more pressing issues bothering the country.
But Dr Sunny Awhefeada, Head, Department of English and Literary Studies, Delta State University, endorsed government’s decision to probe Multi-Choice.
According to him, “I pitch my tent with the Federal Government in its decision. Big Brother Nigeria is a Nigerian project which is expected to project our people, culture and other relevant attributes. So, why do the shooting in South Africa? We have the population, we have the market. So, taking it to South Africa does not make economic or cultural sense.”
It’ll enable us achieve high production —MultiChoice
However, in its response, MultiChoice, the organisers of the Big Brother Naija Reality TV show said hosting the show in South Africa would enable it achieve high production and meet timelines.
A statement by Caroline Oghuma on behalf of the company, explained that the shooting of the show in South Africa would enable it use its fully equipped house.