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Rotimi Ige explores the opportunities for expression that the biggest reality television series in Africa, Big Brother Naija continues to offer the fashion industry and how it has boosted the economies of its stakeholders and the nation.

Big Brother Naija (BBNaija) is arguably Africa’s biggest reality TV show. Data by ID Africa, a Pan-African PR and communications advisory company, revealed that the BBNaija eviction show on Sunday, August 9, 2020, had 1.6 billion audience impressions, with over 380,000 posts from audiences across the African continent.

Since the show’s inception in 2006 and its relaunch in 2017 after a hiatus, BBNaija has significantly elevated participants’ careers across different entertainment and creative industries, which has contributed to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), currently worth N45.3 trillion.

According to John Ugbe, CEO of MultiChoice Nigeria, organisers of BBNaija, “during the lockdown edition, Big Brother Naija Season 5, we spent over N3.5 billion. That’s money that goes into the economy.”

One of the sectors BBNaija has massively contributed to is Nigeria’s fashion industry. It has redefined the sector’s business model. Its host, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, perpetually cuts a dash, ensuring that millions of viewers who watch the BBNaija show are influenced by his elegant outfits. The compère extraordinaire no doubt influences new fashion trends and motivates several Nigerian youths to patronise local fashion stylists.

A BBNaija report by Plaqad in 2021 shows that over 34 per cent of viewers concede that Big Brother Naija has helped them record new business ideas and revenues, pushing the frontiers of Nigeria’s fashion industry which is valued at $4.7 billion, according to Euromonitor.

In the first-ever Big Brother Naija documentary, ‘BBNaija: The Fame, the Fans, the Frenzy’ which premiered at the ninth edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference (NECLive9) on Friday, April 29, 2022, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu said, “BBNaija gives you the platform to show the world what you’ve got.”

Ebuka, who emerged as the eighth runner-up, was a BBNaija housemate in 2006. However, by hosting the show’s grand opening nights since 2017, Ebuka showcases to the world his uncanny fashion taste through his appearance in elegant tuxedos and creative traditional outfits mostly styled by the prestigious, Leeds-based, Savile Row academy-trained designer, Mai Atafo.

For his first appearance as the host of the show in BBNaija season 2-themed ‘See Gobe’, Ebuka rocked an elegant navy blue tuxedo and isiegu meets agbada traditional wear. For the next season themed ‘Double Wahala’, he went on to make an even bolder fashion statement in a pink tuxedo, paired with a black pair of trousers. He then represented the Nigerian cultural heritage as he stunned in a three-piece agbada.

During the BBNaija season four, themed ‘Pepper Dem’, he cemented his place as a ‘fashion god’ as he opened the show in two elegant outfits. First, he wore a tuxedo covered in Swarovski crystals and paired it with grey pants. That same night, he rocked a suede agbada embellished with floral designs and a matching cap.

Of course, his next grand opening looks for BBNaija 2020 Lockdown edition again set standards for men interested in Nigerian fashion as he rocked a glittering neutral-toned tuxedo paired with wine-coloured trousers.

To launch the opening show of BBNaija season 6, themed ‘Shine Ya Eye’, Ebuka sparkled from the fusion of African and western outfits. He wore a Calabar traditional attire, a custom-made double-breasted jacket paired with a designer coat, and a beaded two-piece outfit with a matching cap.

There is no denying that Ebuka is constantly raising the bar in the men’s fashion game through BBNaija, and for this year’s double launch show, the compère channelled his inner royalty through fashion.

On the first day, July 23, 2022, the esteemed host glowed in a silk three-piece wine suit. He accessorised the suit with a matching coloured ruffle. He then switched his look and wow-ed the audience in an Agbada of many colours. He sealed his traditional royal look with a pair of socks and black designer shoes.

For the second day premiere, July 24, 2022, Ebuka wore a matching outfit skilfully designed with a mix of plain and pattern fabric. The outfit, a double-breasted jacket paired with high-waist pants, is certain to remain the talk of the fashion season.

Towards the end of the premiere, Ebuka showed the world how fashion is done in a truly elegant style. He rocked a Hausa-inspired blue garment with matching shoes. He then paired the look with an overflowing exquisite cloak.

Although Ebuka has influenced the Nigerian fashion industry greatly through BBNaija, he is far from done with revealing fashion cards. Wouldn’t you keep up with Ebuka’s stylish moments on BBNaija season seven?.

This year’s Big Brother Naija, tagged Level Up, has 24 housemates under one roof but on two levels, vying for the ultimate title of BBNaija Level Up winner and the N100 million grand prize. This season, Big Brother Naija airs on two DStv channels (channel 198 and 199), two GOtv channels (channel 29 and 3) and Showmax. The fans’ favourite Ninjas are also back.


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