BBNaija: Runsewe clears air on sex content
•Tags Bobrisky a national disgrace
•Says ‘If Bobrisky is caught on our streets he will be dealt with ruthlessly
By Ayo Onikoyi and Juliet Ebirim
When the news broke on Monday that the Federal Government was considering, via National Council for Arts and Culture, to ban the Big Brother Naija reality show, currently airing on some DSTV channels all hell broke loose. Entertainment stakeholders and the Nigerian people reacted in different measures. As a follow up to the statement credited to the Director-General of the Council, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe that they have complained to NBC, National Broadcasting Commission to ban the reality TV show, Saturday Vanguard reached out to him for an interview. He clears the air on what he said about the programme and the wild-spread immorality eating to the fabric of the Nigerian culture.
What did you say was the problem with Big Brother Naija and why do you want it banned?
I didn’t say that Big Brother Naija is a bad brand. It’s a platform to bring Nigerian youths together which is okay. People complain that it started in another country and then was brought to Nigeria. Where Otunba Segun Runsewe came in is the sex on live television. We are not claiming to be saints, but even the British police have condemned their own person who was involved in the act. Again, we should realise that this is our country and we don’t celebrate immorality, nudity and so on. To put it clearly, what we are after is the content of that programme. It’s a platform where different people with different religions, different professions from different walks of life come together to stay for months. Personally, what I’m unhappy about is the content which encourages immorality.
There’s been a report that you are prevailing on NBC to shut down the programme and replace it with another one that would be broadcast by Startimes. How true is that?
No, what I said is, if they don’t change the content of Big Brother Naija, I will make a formal report to NBC. I have respect for constituted authority. I will do the right thing the way it should be done. I like to follow due process. I didn’t go to challenge Big Brother directly because there is a regulatory body in charge and that’s why a lot of people commended the approach of making a formal complaint to the NBC. Also, if our youths are in love with such programmes, the time has come for us to come up with something similar, if they will not change the content, a platform that will showcase our culture, heritage,dressing, food and everything about Nigeria could be preferred.
So no arrangement has been made with Startimes to initiate a new programme that will replace Big Brother Naija?
No. Generally, we are developing a cultural-content programme which is not to do with Big Brother. Big Brother Naija is a brand in its own right. We are not interested in Big Brother’s brand, we are looking towards a culturally inclined brand. Imagine foreigners seeing us the way we’re being projected on the show as immoral. It’s not our image, so we have to speak out so that the whole world will know that it’s not in our character.
Someone argued that we have a misunderstood idea and illusion of our culture, that our culture has long changed especially with the youths of today. How would you react to that?
Maybe because everybody sleeps and wakes up from one side, so they tend to see things from one side. Let me make it fundamentally clear to you. If we don’t address this issue, we will pay dearly for it in the future. What we are suffering today is a result of the laxity of some twenty-something years ago. According to records, about forty-five percent of our youths are into drugs. What I’m doing is not for personal interest, it’s in the interest of Nigeria as a country. We must address this menace that is destroying the fabric of our rich culture as a people. I’m one of the happiest persons today because one of the people who challenged me called me this morning to apologise. I challenge any reasonable Nigerian to come and tell me that they would like to see their daughters dancing half-naked on Lekki road or his son becoming Bobrisky and I will give up this battle. Some girls will leave their homes and go for “professional prostitution” and the parents don’t know. A wedding that was supposed to hold this September was called off because the groom discovered that the bride to be has a huge tattoo on her back, which is a symbol of her membership of a particular club. A woman sent her daughter to Germany to study Industrial Relations, but she decided to study make-up when she got there. Today, she’s married as a full-fledged lesbian. The mother is currently in a hospital in Maitama, Abuja suffering from stroke. Are you saying we should allow this to continue? No! I’m just a concerned Nigerian who wants to preserve and protect our culture and pride as a people.
The government has been accused of not engaging the youths enough. What’s your council doing in this regard?
We have a minimum of five youth programmes every year. The issue is, we have sponsors who choose to sponsor the wrong programmes. If we don’t guard against these things as early as possible, the entire nation will pay dearly for it. Have you noticed that foreigners now come to set up nightclubs in Nigeria and they use that platform to recruit our girls and send them out to be used as sex slaves?
Have you already made your complaints official with the NBC?
Definitely. My job is to tell every other agency that what is being broadcast live on BBNaija does not portray our image as a people. I’ve done that and it’s being looked into. We will get back to you.
Have you in any way contacted the organisers of the show to express your displeasure regarding the content?
No, I don’t need to get in touch. It’s their product. I’ve stressed what Nigerians will not tolerate. If they don’t realise the dangers of what I’m saying, then we will do the needful.
A statement was once credited to you that Bobrisky should be arrested. Is it true?
Bobrisky is a national disgrace. He started by selling and using bleaching creams, now, he has grown boobs, bums and hips. If a Bobrisky is doing well with his immora l lifestyle, how do you convince Nigerian youths to do the right thing? Bobrisky has the right, but not within the Nigerian environment. There are others like him, but they live outside the country. If we don’t address Bobrisky as early as possible, he will form a team that will spread like wildfire. This will result in a lot of suicide cases, because the typical Nigerian parent would not want to see their child become a Bobrisky. It’s not an entertainment issue, it’s a war to save Nigeria for a better tomorrow. If you start this kind of war, you are bound to be attacked. My job is to preserve and protect the culture of this country. It would be unfair for me to be silent on this. You now find male prostitutes by the roadsides. A popular Nigerian recently paid an unexpected visit to his son in England only to discover that the son is a gay leader. The man was brought back to the country on a wheelchair. I’m talking with the strength of information and authority. I have information that over twenty-three Nigerian boys are already starting Bobrisky’s brand. Immediately we started the war, they pulled out because we are going to get them arrested. They cannot destroy this country. Someone said why am I not fighting those involved in corruption- that’s not my job and that’s why we have the EFCC, ICPC and the rest of them. My job is to protect and preserve the fabric of our good culture. Bobrisky is not a role model or icon Nigerian youths should look up to. We should all condemn him so that he would go back to how he was created. He has a right to leave Nigeria for any country that practises and encourages trans-gender lifestyle. If he is caught on the streets of this country, he will be dealt with ruthlessly.
There’s a popular belief in the entertainment industry that sex and violence sell. In that light, won’t it be really difficult to stop the sexual content in BBNaija, because truly that’s what people want to see?
A few people from Big Brother are happily married now, without having sex on the show. We can’t destroy our country for the selfish benefits of some people. According to a Yoruba adage, it’s easier for a man to watch two mad people on the streets, but he would never wish madness for any member of his household. Most of our people are pretenders. It’s unfortunate that people have to see sexual content before a programme will be appreciated. Such people are not normal. You want to see other people do what you can’t allow your child or family member to do. It’s sheer wickedness. The number of single parents is high. Rape is on the increase. Homosexuality is gradually eating it’s way in. What kind of society are we building? I’m fighting against corruption of the mind. A women organisation in Kenya commended my move, that they were scared that if this is allowed in Nigeria, then we are in trouble. The rest of Africa is in trouble. They are looking up to us. Someone even threatened me that I would be removed from office by those who love nudity.
Regarding your statement about BBNaija and possibly preferring another show rich in our culture. Wouldn’t people question your motive of doing it with Startimes, rather than with DSTV?
No, DSTV is an independent platform. You don’t expect me to want to produce something of that magnitude for this country and then go out to look for it. My job is to look inward 100%. Startimes has a fabric of Nigerian understanding. So, if I ever have to do something in this regard, Startimes would be my best option. Let me also correct something. We are not planning to replace big Brother, we want to have something that reflects Nigeria to the world culturally.
The National Arts Theatre in Lagos is presently a shadow of it old self. What are you doing in this regard?
The immediate past Minister of Information and Culture(who has been reappointed) was on the verge of partnering with the Lagos State government. Political undertones sometimes kill good intentions. Luckily for me, I’m on the board of the National Theatre. From what we have on ground, the National Theatre will come back and regain its lost glory in the next couple of months, because we already have a master plan. I assure you the National Theatre will come back stronger and better. It is a National treasure.