Opinion: So BBN Is The Culprit! – By Wale Bakare

We are very funny in this country. When the unfortunate event that happened in Dubai hit cyberspace, the Lagos State Government, in its usual style (or should I say Sanwoolu’s style) of ill-advised pandering to optics and seeking to be loved by those ‘twittering on WhatsApp’ (couldnt help it. Feel free to sue me) closed down all 7 campuses of the Institution. And this even before seeking to establish what had actually happened. This was done without thought to what impact the step would have on the thousands of other innocent children who would be made to suffer for the infractions of 5 erring children. No thought given to the hundreds of children that have life-defining SSCE exams coming up in a few weeks. Always in a rush to appeal to the sentiments of the baying crowd, the government outsourced its strategic thinking to the social media one more time. Emerging information since that knee-jerk reaction have highlighted the folly of the action taken. This is becoming a recurring decimal with Sanwoolu’s administration. But he and his government are not the crux of this piece.

A gentleman made a post where he asked that the Lagos State Government should ban the broadcast of BBN in Lagos because it could essentially be linked to the ‘horror in Dubai’! Not surprisingly, this position was quickly latched on to by many who wondered why the government hadn’t banned a show over which they actually have zero control like they closed down a Group of schools. The short answer is: they cant. That power has not been given unto them (and may it never be). Censorship is a very delicate thing and the power to determine what information is available to people has to be wielded responsibly. State Governments are not renowned for being the most responsible institutions in the deployment of the powers they have. Giving them the power to censor broadcasts is a recipe for disaster. I can only imagine what chaos we would be thrown into the day a religious zealot or some ethnic bigot becomes Governor and can decide some things on air are not to his taste personally. What if he decides one day that an episode of ‘The real Housewives of Lekki’ was responsible for his wife’s attitude towards him. Or he is displeased that ‘one small girl’ did not kneel down to greet him before asking an impertinent question? And while wearing a skirt that exposes her ankles for that matter!

More saddening though, as far as I am concerned, is our penchant for jettisoning strategic thinking when in search of solutions to problems, preferring instead to go for the short-term, low hanging fruits. Something like taking Panadol for headaches caused by a malignant tumour instead of going to the root of the problem and excising the offending growth. We take palliatives to make us feel better temporarily rather than grinding our teeth and taking the needed ‘injections’ that will cure the ailment because we dont like the pain from the needle. That is why criminals are still smiling to the bank monthly with the money that should be spent on providing railroads that will link up the entire country in the name of fuel subsidy. That is why we would rather pray for miracles to become landlords overnight from our single rooms in a face-me-I-face-you tenement housing than apply ourselves diligently to the time-honoured process of wealth creation. That is why Chinmark, Ovaioza, and the other scammers succeed. That is why ‘money ritual’ killings thrive and why prosperity preachers take your money and sometimes, your body too.

Back to the ill-advised suggestion to ban BBN. Big Brother Naija is an age-restricted show which clearly says so in all its communication. It is not broadcast on open-to-air terrestrial TV. It has to be subscribed for, through a service that has ‘parental control’! Why dont we try advising parents to live up to their responsibilities instead. If you feel exposure to BBN is a problem in your household why do you have DSTV? Is it essential to your survival? If it is and, as a parent you recognise that it might broadcast content considered harmful to your children, set a PIN and control access. Why should the millions who enjoy a show responsibly be denied access to it because a few parents have chosen to be irresponsible? I like action movies and I have always enjoyed the graphic way Steven Segal disposes of undesirables. If I decide to go out and kill someone, I guess the solution should be to ban all action movies for everybody? When people over-indulge in taking alcohol, they are likely to get up to antisocial behavior. The solution? Why dont we ban alcohol!!! People gamble and when they cannot control their gambling, they might blow away their children’s school fees and become a problem to society. The solution? Close down all betting shops and withdraw the licences of the operators. Some people patronise hotels to sleep with other people’s spouses and engage in other sins or even crimes. The solution? Close down all hotels! And what about this? Some spouses engage in domestic violence and some have even ended up killing one another. The solution: I’ve got the perfect idea – ban marriage. I could go on and on.

What is required to address this sad situation and, I dare say, the pervasive loss of values in the Nigerian society requires deeper thought than a soothing balm to give the people the false impression that something is being done. We are in a crisis and the bar is getting ever lower. Now we have Primary school children engaging in orgies. My father used to say that the people complained that the load on Akanni’s head is skewed to one side. If they bothered to look down, they would see that Akanni’s uneven legs are actually the reason for the lopsidedness of the load on his head. We need to go back to the basics. Things are warped from the home front. Parents assuage their bruised consciences by paying increasingly ridiculous fees for the right to outsource parenting to the schools and then cry when the chicken comes home to roost. I do not have the solutions but I know that spasmic, unthinking, cosmetic actions from the Government will not solve the problems.

By the way, I don’t watch BBN. Not because of any hypocritical self-righteousness but simply because I find it extremely boring and a total waste of my brain cells. Brain cells do not regenerate and wasting the few I have watching what I consider the most pointless ‘Reality’ show ever created is not wise in my opinion. I would however never call for the abridgement of anyone’s right to do anything that is not a crime. People should be able to take responsibility for their actions. If anyone that is of lawful age chooses to spend his/her money to stay awake to watch people sleeping, in the hope of catching them getting up to some shenanigans in the middle of the night, it is their problem. I am more concerned with the Governor of Ogun State spending limited public funds to celebrate the winner than I am with people that would pay N50 multiple times to vote for the contestants but would not get off their seats to go out and vote for their leaders for free.

– Bakare is a respected public commentator and analyst

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