AIRTIME PLUS    Nwabuikwu Onoshe    airtimeplus98@gmail.com

The much promoted musical talent show-The Voice Nigeria- made its debut on Sunday April 10, 2016 on the Africa Magic Showcase platform (dstv channel 151). It was altogether a very enjoyable experience. And I have to confess that I was pleasantly surprised. I mean things could’ve gone badly.

When it comes to musical talent shows, or any show for that matter, there are quite a few things I expect. They would conveniently fit into the ‘inform, educate and entertain’ basket. I, as a viewer, expect to be treated as someone with a brain, even half a brain. I don’t like thinking my intelligence is being insulted. You can teach me a thing or two but please do not kill me with boredom while doing that. This doesn’t also mean you should serve all hype, glitz and no substance. In cases of franchises which is what The Voice Nigeria is, it also helps to be able to recreate/maintain the known identity of the franchise. And there the issue of CSR and how winners of talent shows fare after the show ends. Over and above all that the show must make for good TV viewing.

It’s been just two episodes of the show. Clearly, we have to wait till very much later to see how it delivers on some of these expectations. Be that as it may, The Voice Nigeria has already delivered on many fronts. First, it has managed to recreate the internationally known format of The Voice, especially The Voice US which I’m most familiar with. The show began in 2010 originally as The Voice Of Holland. The US version made its debut sometime in 2011.There are now other franchises around the world including The Voice UK. There’s even a version for kids called The Voice Kids.

Back to The Voice Nigeria, its coaches: 2baba, Waje, Pato Ranking and Timi are proving to be real entertainers and a real draw. They get that they are on TV and have to keep the viewers’ interest. I wasn’t so sure they would be able to keep the viewers attention when they were unveiled as coaches. 2baba is not known for his oratorial skills. Timi can sing his way into the hearts of any audience but I couldn’t be so sure of TV presenting skills. And there was Pato Ranking…

Mind you, it wasn’t their coaching skills I had doubts about. It’s just that quite a few judges/coaches/mentors on TV shows don’t get that ‘it isn’t just about what they know but how they tell the viewer what they know and how they look while telling the viewer what they know.’ Phew. That was a mouthful. Anyhow, I’m happy to report that as far as that is concerned, The Voice Nigeria’s coaches do get ‘it’. And I have to single out Pato Ranking as my favourite. He is the coach who is telling contestants he’ll take them to ‘the Atlantic and the Pacific’, while asking his fellow coaches to allow him ‘sell my market’.

The musical talents themselves haven’t disappointed. One of the strong points of The Voice is the blind auditions where coaches sit backing the stage and only turn if they like what they hear (or hear what they like). Presumably, a lot of the wannabes or ‘shouldnotbes’ have been weeded out so (almost) everyone who’s auditioning blindly can pass.

We’ll know who the top contenders are by the time the live shows begin. There’s still a few stages to go. After the blind auditions come the battle stage. Each coach will fine tune his/her team by pitching one contestant against another to end up with the final selection that will go into the live shows against every other contestant. At least, that’s how it works in the other versions of The Voice. So far, The Voice Nigeria has proved capable of keeping up with The Voice’s traditions.
Join host IK Osakioduwa and cohost Stephanie Coker later this evening at 7 pm on Africa Magic Showcase, dstv channel 151.

COME AGAIN?
President Muhammadu Buhari receives former Burundian president Pierre Buyoya; appeals for dialogue in resolving political crisis in Burundi.”

NTA news headlines, Wednesday April 6, 2016.
If it takes visiting ex-presidents for our own president to preach dialogue as a way of resolving political crises, we need to get more presidents and ex-presidents to visit more often. When I remember the violence visited on Rivers and Bayelsa States, I wonder if President Buhari had these same words of ‘dialogue’ for his representatives like Rotimi Amaechi and Timipre Sylva? The do-or-die in these Niger Delta states may not be unconnected with the lamentations of APC national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, who was reported as saying: “We have lost very important resource-rich states to the PDP. No matter how crude oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country.”
President Buhari has been called many wonderful things. But I doubt that even his staunchest- hailer would have described him as a man of ‘dialogue.’
So, we welcome this new side of our president as preacher of dialogue.

“Speaker Dogara calls for attitudinal changes from Nigerians in tandem with changing times.”
NTA headlines, Tuesday April 19, 11.58 am.
Is someone trying to become the new Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon a.k.a Igodomigodo? I doubt that the good speaker spoke all this ‘grammar’: ‘attitudinal changes in tandem with changing times’? Perhaps if it could only be broken down into simple English. Then we would know which changing times and exactly what attitude we Nigerians need to change (unlike the speaker who doesn’t appear to be talking like he’s also a Nigerian). And doesn’t the word change appear too many times? We have yet to recover from the earlier change sold by Speaker Dogara and his party of change agents.

“Most people avoid tough jobs. We are different. We are not here to complain that things are broken, we are here to fix them. You need someone that’ll take tough decisions and stand by their word. To do that, you need the best of the best. Physically, mentally. So it doesn’t matter if we’re creating opportunities or supporting economies, we know it’s a tough job. But hey, somebody’s got to do it.
We are Fidelity, we keep our word.’

-Fidelity Bank TV commercial voice over.
This Fidelity Bank TVC is not exactly very new. But it was only the other day the irony dawned on me. What comes to your mind when you hear: “We are not here to complain that things are broken, we are here to fix them?” Reminds you of anyone you know? Everywhere one turns now, one is reminded just how broken things are in Nigeria. And this by those who fought and swore to fix these broken things in the first instance. We are constantly being reminded how bad our lives were before this Eldorado. Aside from the fact that we famously have very short memories, why do we need to be constantly reminded, we were there, weren’t we?
Here’s hoping everyone concerned would take another listen to this Fidelity Bank commercial. At the very least, let them ‘stand by their word.’

Wives On Strike  Director; Omoni Oboli
Starring: Omoni Oboli, Chioma Akpotha, Uche Jombo, Ufuoma McDermott, Kehinde Bankole, Kalu Ikeagwu, Kenneth Okonkwo, Julius Agwu
A group of unsophisticated market women are angry about the upcoming underage marriage of a neighbour’s daughter Amina to a much older man. They plead with their husbands to speak to the girl’s father but the men do nothing. The women decide to deny their husbands sex until the situation is resolved. They manage on their own to chase away Amina’s husband to be on the day of the marriage (oh, if only it were that easy). In spite of this success or perhaps because of that success, the women do not relent as they now want far reaching solution from government. Greater visibility comes when Vera, a bored senator’s wife provides them a bigger platform on a TV show.

Wives On Strike balances several thorny and tricky issues: Underage marriages, complacency of the political class, women’s lack of financial independence, etc. Not so that you miss out on the humour. It’s the humour that helps brings the story together. In any case, in the cinema hall I saw the Wives On Strike, the massive audience came prepared to laugh, regardless of the seriousness of the issues.

Julius Agwu as Calistus, Kenneth Okonkwo as Papa Ngozi and the other husbands of the striking wives are hilarious. Kalu Ikeagwu gives a powerful performance as Senator Anietie, Vera’s husband. Especially because there is a build up. Luckily, his character is given a bit more depth.
You should go see Wives On Strike.