Don’t be scared of what will come out next. I am not a killjoy and will not criticise anything or anybody. As a matter of fact, I want to begin by congratulating Efe Ejeba, the Warri-born artiste whose life has taken a drastic positive turn like the Biblical Jabez. He is now healthier and richer by 25 million naira, the exact amount that can fund two hundred clean cookstove small cottage industries.Like I said, I am here to share in your joy; both the budding artiste and the sponsors of the reality TV show. I am here to shake hands and clink glasses with both Efe, his runners-up, and the organisers of the event. Efe, for rising by stroke of a mixture of luck and personality to be the owner of a luxury sport utility vehicle he would not have dreamed of owning at least until the next fifteen to twenty years, supposing he had a job before the show, with the current rate of progressing Nigeria at the moment, and to the sponsors, for their ability to detect our impulsive irrationality and duffel away the lion share of our resources. Cheers, everyone.
Now, the show is over. Now, the craze has ebbed. Now, our senses ought to have returned and the scales must have fallen off our eyes. Efe, congratulations! You tried. God has picked your call, as they say. You can quietly go make a decent life out of that money, and be sure your generation never experiences the squalor that moulded you.
As for PayPorte, GoTV and the rest, to the conference room. We need to talk. It’s gentleman talk, a round-table tete-a-tete between civilised individuals.I have no problem with the idea of gathering unmarried men and women in a house for three months to expose their nakedness, have unlicensed sex, and lie, brag and demean what Africa and her values hold sacrosanct. I have no problem with the idea of making celebrities of people who do next to nothing but being themselves, as you put it. It’s business to you, for all intents and purposes. It has been a jolly good ride, and the raking has been more than worth the investment. There was a record 26 million votes for the various contestants in the final week alone, approximately one-tenth of the population of our dear country, apart from the rapt and frenzied viewership your channels enjoyed, and the money made from the short code messaging. But this is neither love, nor war, and there are a number of things we can do, to make all fair.
In physics, we were taught that “equilibrium is maintained when two forces acting in opposing directions, equal in magnitude, balance out.” Now that the hue and cry about the show is over, and as you are preparing your balance sheets and smacking lips over this delicious lick, remember that the system isn’t in equilibrium yet. There are thousands of writers, of which I am one, who could do a lot with the platform that bodies like yours could provide in shaping the world intellectually.The only competition I know currently running in Nigeria for writers (I stand to be corrected) is the NLNG Prize for Literature. You would do well to look into ways of providing the same platform for intellectuals; it wasn’t so hard for you to do that for entertainers, your brand of entertainers. Intellectuals are human beings too; they have swagger too, a swagger made of what legacy they can leave for the next generation; a swagger made of something other than a cute painted face and eye-popping body parts peeking out of scandalous dresses. Intellectuals can also represent brands; it’s not a sin.
There are inventors and scientists who only need a tenth of the money you gave to Efe alone, not the money you made, to wow the world. If you don’t provide them with the same lease of fresh air you handed to those individuals in that house, for which they will stand to become brand ambassadors whether they won or not, remember the system is not yet in equilibrium, and you haven’t been fair to it. If you could run a concurrent programme like the YOUWin programme with a fraction of the amount Efe made, imagine how many Efes will emerge, and how much you will weigh on the scales of posterity.
Like I said in my opening sentence, I am not after criticism of anyone or anyone’s business model, nor am I dictating how to run your business. But the spread has to be even, and the dividends fair on all sides. Only then can there be equilibrium. It’s a live-and-let-live society. The entertainers have their share. We are only asking after our mite.
Ogbonna Nnaemeka Henry.