Managing Director of IBST, Remi Ogunpitan, has faulted MultiChoice’s decision to film the Big Brother Naija reality TV show in South Africa.
With 27 years in TV production and having worked on projects like Big Brother Nigeria, Doctors Quarters, The Apprentice Africa, Dragons Den Nigeria and Peak Talent Show, Ogunpitan says the argument that Nigeria is not conducive for business is no excuse for taking the multi-million dollar project to South Africa.
He argued that given the population and profits MultiChoice, owners of DStv make in Nigeria, the company should make the best of the environment which it operates.
Read excerpts of his post below:
Opinions have been divided between those who see nothing wrong with it; who point out the poor infrastructure of Nigeria, and incessant power cuts, unprofessional crews and potential lack of quality production had the decision been made to film in Nigeria. Those that take this position say it’s strictly a business decision, based on numbers crunching that makes a South African production an easy choice. That position is reaffirmed by the feeling that it’s only in South Africa that the house can be sourced, quality crew and technical facilities sourced. There is much to be appreciated in this position. Nigeria is a very hard place to produce anything. Those of us in the industry battle every day to make things work. Unfortunately, we don’t have any other country to run to. Our investments are here and we die or live by our acumen, talent and ability to manage the local environment. I have been in the production business for 27 years in Nigeria. I have paid salaries for 27 years and fought hard for the local industry. It’s not a choice for me. I have to make it work here, for my team and their families.
Now here’s the issue. Can government and regulators continue to stare at a situation where Nigerians are making investments, despite all the challenges we face in the industry, and not regulate, protect and provide trade opportunities for those investing in Nigeria, like their citizens? All of us in the industry need to understand the stakes. The media continues to represent one of the most potent forces for employment, taxation, setting an agenda for development, changing paradigms, and bringing a nation together. It’s also an economic issue; it’s a national issue; it’s an issue that goes beyond Big Brother being filmed in South Africa. It’s about who sets an agenda for the development of the media, broadcast and film industry in Nigeria? The fact that we are unable to see the economic issue is galling and represents everything that kills our potential and why we need to keep at it no matter the challenges. Our industry needs guidance URGENTLY.
Yes we don’t have light, and other crucial infrastructure. But yet MTN, AIRTEL and other networks manage the environment. If you are in business, or in employment in Nigeria today, you are managing the environment. Using our environment as an excuse is rather tardy. Maybe DSTV should relocate to South Africa if that’s the excuse. But they won’t because we have the population and the profits.
I have been on this issue for years. It’s tiring and energy sapping. But eventually someone will get it in government. If they don’t, all of us in the industry should just stop investing. Sell our assets and go back to the farm, that’s if all the land hasn’t been sold to the Indians and Chinese.
Finally, it disingenuous to sell down Nigeria. The continued demystification of Nigeria, its people and environment is cause for worry. When our brothers in South Africa continue to position Nigeria as a country where the people have no skills, where nothing works; no infrastructure and we eat it all up, and echo it, we are in trouble.
Nigerians can make any situation work. Despite our challenges we make it work. When we make things work, we make it better for our people.
If the Minister of Information and the NBC have the interests of Nigeria at heart, they need to get a move on, before we lose out completely.