BBNaija: How bad economy, unemployment push young professionals to entertainment
By Fikayo Olowolagba and Nsikak Nseyen
Analysts have described the unemployment, harsh economic realities and the surging inflation currently bedevilling Nigeria as the major reason many Nigerian youths have resorted to seeking quick fame and fortune in the entertainment industry.
Research indicates that over 40% of Nigerian youths in the job market have dumped their professions to seek wealth on social media and most recently, in reality, television shows.
One could argue that the trend of young professionals choosing entertainment over professional careers is a reflection of Nigeria’s growth in that sector, unfortunately, many do not agree with this opinion.
They insist Nigerian youths run to entertainment because of unemployment, poverty and economic challenges.
In Nigeria, fresh law graduates earn as low as N30, 000 in wage, while many young doctors are unemployed at least until they leave the country to greener pastures.
But the entertainment sector is said to be the second-highest employer in Nigeria after agriculture, assimilating over 60% of Nigerian youths who studied Performing Arts or other disciplines.
A case in study is the Big Brother Naija show which parades young professionals, doctors, lawyers, teachers and scientists who acquired their degrees from various reputable institutions across the world.
While many claim the show is not the best example of morality for young Nigerians, others insist the over ninety days production, employs a vast majority of professionals in cinematography, thereby reducing the rate of unemployment by fractions.
Aside from the fame, fortune and popularity that will accompany participation in the ongoing BBNaija season six, tagged ‘Shine Ya Eye’, the winner of the show is assured of a whopping grand prize of $180,000 in this year’s event.
Many hungry youths in Nigeria will kill for less.
Among the 26 contestants who made it into Big Brother’s House this season, is a lawyer, a medical doctor, a professional basketball player, a secondary school teacher, actors, musicians, fashion designers and undergraduates.
These young professionals chose to abandon careers in their fields of study for the reality show in search of a better life for themselves.
Sammie, an undergraduate, may have judged the reality show a better option to secure his future since there are no guarantees of a job opportunity after a rigorous school system in Nigeria.
Sammie’s peculiar situation is one reason analysts say bad leadership, resulting in very harsh economic situations and unimaginable rates of joblessness for graduates have pushed youths into reality TV shows.
Some of the housemates say they are in the show to promote themselves, become popular and secure their future, claiming their university degrees cannot afford them such opportunities.
However, the likes of Boma, Yerins came on the show to gain popularity despite being a foreign-trained doctor and a successful actor respectively.
Another case in question is one of the newly introduced housemates, Jumoke, also known as JMK.
She is a 23-year-old graduate, who recently bagged a law degree, passed her law school certification exams but forfeited a grand Call to Bar to be in the reality show.
JMK’s presence in the big brother house means she has abandoned her six years in university and an additional one year in Law School to secure her spot at the reality show.
The young lawyer unabashedly told her fellow housemates that, “being a lawyer can wait but that BBNaija reality show cannot.”
Barring one’s liberty to change career paths, many believe Nigeria’s socio-economic problems and desire for quick wealth are the driving forces behind these switches.
Christy Atuegwu, a female lawyer, who reacted to JMK’s decision said she was disappointed to hear that a young lady chose reality TV over her call to bar after six years of study.
”One wonders what message this comment you say she made sends to younger folks who are aspiring to be in the law profession”, Christy said.
”It says a lot about Nigeria and our priorities” She maintained.
She, however, claimed there was no use to blame JMK for her decisions, explaining that there is always room for change in one’s career path in life.
Another contestant, Yousef, a graduate of Electrical Engineering from UNIJOS, barely surviving as a class teacher in a high school and now abandons that noble call for the more assuring benefits of the BBNaija show.
Even more confusing is the case of Angel who does not see any reason to waste her time in school and has dropped out serially or Sammie, who is still an undergraduate and may never return to school especially if he emerges winner of the reality show.
On the other hand, 29-year-old Whitemoney and Princess who are graduates came into the show to become successful as they had hustled and done menial jobs in the past to survive. Both contestants struggled to make the show because of poverty.
Whitemoney a graduate, said before entering the house, he had done odd jobs such as plumbing, barbing, selling in the streets of Kaduna and riding Okada while Princess, who was sacked from her job during the pandemic became a taxi driver to feed but quickly abandoned as soon as the reality show beckoned.
An education expert, Innocent Chukwuma, said the Nigerian system forced the professionals into entertainment, a life path they would not have chosen if the country was any better.
”This proves that education may be going extinct in the country since there’s just little or nothing to show for it after spending years in the university.
”Imagine searching for non-existent jobs while people like Lekan, Mercy or Miracle can make millions of Naira in less than four months in the Big Brother house” he said.