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Shut down BBNaija show now – Lai Mohammed tells NBC

On Wednesday, Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of the NBC, told senior management members that he had been directed by the Minister to shut down the show

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has asked the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to take Big Brother Naija (BBN) off the air over fears of a possible spread of COVID-19.

The reality show, which entered its fifth season on July 20, is one of the most watched programmes on cable TV in Nigeria.

On Wednesday, Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of the NBC, told senior management members that he had been directed by the Minister to shut down the show, TheCable learnt.

The commission was to use fears of spread of COVID-19 as the reason, citing directives from the presidential task force (PTF), insiders said.

Mohammed reportedly wanted the letter shutting down the show to come from the NBC because of the general opinion that he is bent on sending MultiChoice Ltd, producers of the show, out of Nigeria.

He is believed to have launched political moves against MultiChoice in order to pave the way for his main consultant to make a return to Pay TV after previously failing.

However, insiders said that the NBC management was not well disposed to the move to shut down BBNaija, with some of them saying there was no basis for it, the Cable reports.

A director is said to have reminded the meeting that NBC had already sought explanation from Multichoice on a possible violation of COVID-19 protocols with the airing of the show.

The letter was sent on July 1, before the show began.

MultiChoice replied with detailed explanations on measures taken in collaboration with the Lagos state government, whose agency, Lagos State Safety Commission, gave the green light for the show.

Also, MultiChoice said in the letter that housemates had been screened prior to the show and that the BBNaija House had been decontaminated and adapted to ensure sufficient physical distancing, in addition to eliminating the use of live audience.

All inmates went through a mandatory two-week isolation during which COVID-19 symptoms would have manifested if they had the disease.

A second director is said to have told the meeting that participants of the show had maintained the safety protocols, notably generous use of hand sanitisers, since it started on Sunday.

Idachaba, who is reportedly fighting to be confirmed as the substantive DG, was asked to request the minister for a written directive.

However, the acting DG was said to have told the meeting that he would have no other option than to carry out Mohammed’s order — the same way he altered the broadcast code to please the minister despite public outcry.

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Victor Akande

Victor Akande, a blogger by profession for the past 7 years. He studied Mathematics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka Contact: +2348053316946 Twitter: @Newsflash2471

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