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Friday, October 13, 2023

Balancing the Ledger: BBN’s Whooping Investments and Nigeria’s Priorities By Juliet Agoyi 

Minister of Art, Culture, and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa

By Juliet Agoyi

In a world where large entertainment companies often hold significant influence, the Big Brother Naija (BBN) reality TV show serves as a prominent illustration of grand displays, aspirations and captivating stories.

The show unquestionably captures the attention and interest of audiences not only in Nigeria but also beyond its borders. Yet, alongside its appeal, arises a detailed conversation that explores the financial impact of this extravagant event.

As we explore the financial complexities, it is important to note that the substantial investment in Big Brother Naija isn’t inherently negative. Entertainment plays a crucial role in contemporary life, providing a break from routine and encouraging cultural conversations. However, while the attention is on the impressive prize money, a staggering 120 million naira for this season’s winner, Ilebaye Precious Odiniya, a thoughtful perspective reveals noticeable inequality.

Consider this: According to a source within Multichoice, It costs $2 million to be a headline sponsor and it was Moniepoint who reportedly brought that kind of money this time. One can easily imagine there in, how much goes into a show like Big brother with over 10-15 sponsors, agencies and individuals investing. The organisers also recently said they spent a whooping 5 billion naira to host the just concluded All Stars’ season.

Meanwhile the academic achievements that form the foundation of societal progress often come with very modest rewards. For instance a student who scores the highest in the University Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) may receive a nominal sum, while a university’s best graduate might secure a commendable yet not overly significant monetary prize.

The contrast becomes more pronounced when compared with the extravagant winnings of reality TV participants who invest a few months mostly doing what some people might tag “wasting valuable time “to get all those prizes and funds.

This contrast raises legitimate questions about societal values and investment priorities. The large sums allocated to reality TV shows portray a disproportion between entertainment and other sectors that underpin national development.

While the appeal of entertainment engages viewers, the fundamental pillars of education, research, and innovation which are vital catalysts for growth seem to receive relatively modest acknowledgment.

It’s undeniable that entertainment has its place. Yet, with hundreds of millions invested through sponsorship in the Big Brother Naija show, it’s imperative to strike a balance.

Why not channel a fraction of these colossal funds towards educational scholarships, research grants, infrastructure enhancement? the list goes on. The potential benefits of such reallocation could reverberate far beyond a season of entertainment, fostering growth and empowerment across various fields.

For example, during the period of COVID, Nigeria went cap in hand to western nations to beg for vaccines that we could have produced here. We have research institutes across the country but they have all rotted away due to lack of funding.

While the BBN reality show is a life-changing one that has helped many of our youths to live their dreams in the world of entertainment, it has been receiving sponsorship in billions from individuals and corporate organisations who can as well help the country to look at the areas of education and research.

The intricacies of this financial conversation cast a light not only on the show’s organisers but also on the wider societal structure.

While we indulge in the appeal of reality TV, it is important to pause and contemplate where our investments are also required. Entertainment has the power to inspire, uplift, and unite, but so does education, research, and innovation. Striking a balance between the two isn’t just an economic choice but a statement about our collective priorities.

In the grand theatre of financial decision making, the curtains must rise on a narrative that doesn’t merely entertain, but also enriches and empowers. It is a story where investment isn’t just about the immediate dazzle or reward, but about creating a lasting legacy that resonates far beyond the confines of a reality TV set.

It is a narrative that redefines how we allocate our resources and propels us toward a future where societal growth is as prized as entertainment’s sparkle.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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