By Jide Taiwo
In the days following the National Broadcasting Commission‘s rumoured ban on a number of newly released Nigerian songs, the criticisms from citizens have been loud. How dare they, monoliths in the new age of Nigerian music that is taking over the world, try some like this!
These haters that call themselves NBC, ki ni problem yin gaan. Why did they not ban pass the agbara?!!! #Wo
— Bond003 (@michaelogbeta) August 22, 2017
NBC has banned:
Olamide – Wo & Wavy level
Davido – If remix
9ice – Living things.
I’m bothered about olamide’s Wo only..😞
— Mel (@melody_hassan) August 22, 2017
NBC is alive again! They just put a ban on Olamide’s “Wo”, Davido’s “Fall”, & 9ice’s “Living Things”. Well, they can’t ban it digitally😋
— Kay Baba (@datGuyKOFO) August 22, 2017
The unanimous consensus is that government agencies in Nigeria fret over little things and cower away from the bigger issues. That is mostly true – as the Federal Ministry of Health got involved in the conversation, citing a violation of a 2015 law that prohibits smoking in public areas.
— Health Ministry NGR (@Fmohnigeria) August 18, 2017
Nigerians have called out the ministry on its hypocrisy, worrying about a music video while the President spent over three months receiving medical treatment abroad.
Be that as it may, when the actual organization in charge of broadcast media commented on the matter, it was to deny that it indeed banned those songs.
But what exactly is the job of the NBC and does it have right to bar entertainment content from being aired on television? Like its contemporaries across the job, its mandate among other things, is to regulate broadcast content to guard against several issues of which indecency happens to be one. As such, it falls exactly within the NBC’s purview to ban any content from being aired, if it does not fit Nigeria’s broadcasting code.
Enter ‘Wo!’; a catchy tune that plays to Olamide‘s strength of street lingo and swaggu. Olamide is not naive, he knows for sure that some of lyrics – and their representation in a music video – are not, as they say, for children.
It’s not his first time, though. His career is littered with songs that have explicit nature – from ‘Story For The Gods’ to ‘Falila Ketan’ to ‘Stupid Love’, he never strays too far from explicit content. He’s a rapper after all, what else did we expect, bedtime lullabies?
The NBC is well within its rights to restrict the broadcast of Olamide’s ‘Wo!’ video. It’s not a vendetta or picking on a popular artiste, it is simply an execution of its duty.
However when there are Internet packages so cheap that even a 12-year-old can access explicit content via his or her smartphone, is the NBC not just being simple by thinking a blanket ban of Olamide’s music video will prevent it from being seen? Maybe. On the other hand, there are restrictions on the Internet that can get that done, by whomever desires.
YouTube is the largest video repository in the world. Over a billion people use it everyday. 300 hours of video are uploaded on it every minute. Every minute! One would assume that anything can go on YouTube, right? Since it’s free and anyone can access it. Wrong.
For the same reason the NBC exists, YouTube also has ways to prevent explicit content from being seen. It has a little feature called ‘The Restricted Mode’. Sexual content and violence is automatically flagged by YouTube and taken down.
Guess whose video doesn’t come up when you activate the Restriction Mode on YouTube? You’re right: Baddo Sneh – Olamide. A large chunk of his material is invisible when the Restricted Mode is on. Nobody has accused YouTube of overstepping its boundaries with this measure. It is to protect minors and those whose sensibilities are easily offended.
Of course, not everybody will activate this mode. But the fact that it exists means explicit content should be on demand, not available by default to the general audience. Even Big Brother is optional: you have to opt in to be able to watch.
So why are Nigerians angry that the NBC could do what it was put in place to do? Perhaps we’re just an angry people who need outlets to vent against real and perceived injustices. Perhaps we are cursed by priding in inadequate knowledge of how things ought to be done.
Maybe it’s just a reaction to our government’s failures to address what actually matters to the people – food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, education; those things that the ruling class take for granted and rub in the masses’ faces. That’s the only way this criticism of NBC can be understood.
Otherwise, we all need to relax!
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