For a long while, MultiChoice Nigeria was pilloried for hosting the Big Brother Naija outside the shores of Nigeria. The wave of criticism started after the leading entertainment company in Nigeria held the 2017 and 2018 editions of the reality show in South Africa. Its first edition in 2006 however took place in a location in Ikeja area of Lagos State.
To most Nigerians, the organiser’s actions were unpatriotic even if the company had in several press briefings argued that the cost of having the Big Brother Naija House, a luxury apartment where the housemates (contestants) are accommodated for the duration of the programme is very expensive in Nigeria coupled with other logistics, fans of the show felt that the company was robbing them of their national pride.
There were few attempts to boycott the show but none was successful as the show always provided undiluted entertainment to viewers, owing to the different personalities that spend a lengthy period of time in one house together, totally cut off from the outside world, except on elimination nights.
Going by the erratic power supply experienced in the country and the growing security challenge, it is in a way understandable why the company takes the production to South Africa.
“I think what has not really reached us in Nigeria is the fact that we have actually been running other Big Brother shows in other territories. It makes sense to share the house in South Africa, from a cost perspective. One house that is purpose built in such a way that Mozambique can come and do their own Big Brother, Angola can come and do their Portuguese Big Brother, Nigeria can come and do their Big Brother Naija and so on and so forth,” the company’s General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Martin Mabutho said in a press briefing recently to announce plans for the fourth edition.
However, the company finally heeded to the call of Nigerians to have the show in its host country as Mabutho announced that the show will be held in Nigeria this year. That piece of news received a loud cheer from the newsmen gathered at the briefing.
The recent move Mabutho explained was delayed in the past due to the costs involved.
“We were not in the position then to invest here in a Big Brother House. We do allude to the costs involved in having a proper state of the art facility to deliver a show that will be enjoyed and in top quality that is expected throughout the world. We are now in the position and the construction is underway.”
A typical Big Brother House comes with all the perks of luxury life: a lavishly furnished apartment with different rooms for different activities; a beautiful garden for games, gossips and of course love. There are cameras all over the house for the mysterious Big Brother to monitor the activities of the housemates.
The Regional Director M-Net West Africa, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu added that the company is focused on ensuring that the 2019 edition lived up to MultiChoice standards. According to her, every challenge has been dealt with and measures have been taken to make the show a memorable one that will reflect Nigeria’s pride.
The TV show also got a new partner, The gaming company Bet9ja. The last two editions had the online retail shopping platform Payporte as its headline sponsor.
Partnering the show for the first time, the Senior Marketing Manager, Bet9ja, Olufemi Osobajo said that the show’s values are in line with the company’s aim.
“Our core value in Bet9ja is changing lives of the Nigerian youth. We believe the bet ticket holds more power in changing the lives of the youth and Big Brother Naija has done the same thing by changing lives of the youth in all the editions of Big Brother,” he said.
TV Host Ebuka Obi-Uchendu will also be returning as host of this year’s edition.
The organisers revealed that auditions will take place in the first week of February (1 and 2) in eight cities across the country, namely Abuja, Port Harcourt, Warri, Benin, Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Calabar.