The Rise and Fall of TV Programmes in Nigeria


From the late 70s to the 90s, Nigeria was known for her rich and educational TV programmes that informed, educated, enlightened, persuaded, integrated and at the same time entertained viewers. But today, the love for these programmes has been overtaken by the trend of parents not having much time to scrutinise what their children or wards do before and after school. ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM writes on the need for parents to go back to the old days while looking at some important television programmes.

TV was for the elites. There was always this joy to catch up with some of the programmes on air back then. For those who had the opportunity to own or see a TV in the 70's to early 90's when juveniles then who got to know much of TV during the mid 80's and most of the early 90's, the TV experience then was of a nostalgic feeling now.

There is no doubt that the then generations and before confirm that these present generations are getting adulterated TV content and programmes like which are not in any way contributing to the life of the present generation of youths.

A flashback to the early 70's -90's, TV programmes were of entertainment and education value that even parents needed not persuade their children to embrace them.

Though there were no 24hr TV broadcast at that time, but for the period of six hours of TV operations, TV was truly fun for its various viewers. One could remember when by 4pm, viewers were first greeted with music for an hour with the coloured strips adorning the TV and sometimes most residents had to stay tuned while someone tried to turn the antenna to get a clear picture of a favourite programme.

After the national anthem was played to introduce the line-up of the day's programme which might not last up to 12am, the DCA (duty continuity announcer) would read the programme line-up for the day while some interesting cartoons followed. This was almost the tradition during weekdays until the 9pm network news on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), which many parents don't miss for anything no matter what kind of job they do. They prefer to skip meals instead of missing the network news.

By that time, children were expected to have gone to bed or just compulsorily listen to NTA network news.

News line uncovers many happenings around the country from weird spiritual happenings to investigative work. But today many have been taken away by politics and insurgencies.

Taking a drive through the past, there is no doubt that generations then always weep for the present generations for what they have missed; good and educating TV programming.

How would one quickly forget The Village Headmaster, one of Nigerian's longest TV drama series back then? The good acting prowess of Oloja of Oja land played by Dejumo Lewis, Gorimapa, Sisi Clara, Teacher Oghenem, Councillor Balogun and others that made this TV drama one of the best from Nigeria.

Uchokwu was a court drama that involves and Igbo translator who always gives the wrong message to the people.

How would one also forget Things Fall Apart of the Pete Edochie (Okonkwo) fame? Also was The New Masquerade which had the likes of Chief Zebrudaya alias 4:30, Ovloria, Gringori, Clarus, the one and only late Prince Jegede Sokoya and his troublesome Apena (late Christy Essien) wife.

Other great programmes back then were Cock Crow At Dawn, Mirror In The Sun, Ripples, Behind The Cloud, Adio Family, Basi & Company, Second Chance, Samanja, Sura the Tailor, Koko Close, Awada Kerikeri.

What about Ultimate Power, of the Ishawuru fame?

In addition, there were Third Eye, Mind Bending, Pot of life, Magana Jarice, Mind your language, Hammer House of Horror, Soul Train, CI5 (The professionals) which was a British detective TV drama series that featured our own veteran actor, Olu Jacobs, and many others.

While the adults were busy enjoying the above TV programmes, their children at that time also had the cause to be excited staying glued to TV when finally allowed to, as parents then always lock their TV with padlocks because it was a box TV unlike the developed flat-screened TV set that are obtainable today.

At school, children were seen in groups discussing most of these notable TV programmes while some popular social clubs were formed.

Children and even adults were treated on a Sunday with captivating programmes like Tales by Moonlight, which was a reason most children would always want to be at home by 6pm.

Furthermore, Sesame Street, Voltron, Super Ted and Robin Hood were some of the programmes that thrilled viewers.

On Saturday morning, Cadbury breakfast show wakes you up with interesting comedy, cartoons like Pinky and the Brain, whose mission is to take over the world.

Kiddie's Vision 101 helps in upgrading and testing the intellect of children and more of such programmes would really help in the moral development of the youths. Also was Rintinti (the police dog).

How can one forget Dr Who which was also one the best TV programmes for the kids back then before the Superman, Tom and Jerrys of this world took over?

The lists of these good and great programmes are many. Mentioning them only makes one sit and cry for the present generation of kids who have now become something else due to the adulterated TV contents they are now being exposed to.

The new TV content and trend is music and dance based which is filled with lots of degrading moral value fillings. What mostly sell TV content nowadays are X-rated contents. This is eminent in our present music videos, reality programmes and so on.

Though many have asked and wondered where we all got it wrong from, but that still remains a puzzle yet to be unravelled.

The new crop of juveniles has argued that those TV programmes that wowed viewers in the past did so because there was not much competition as we now have. Their point is that back then, it was mainly the NTA and maybe LTV that were providing TV contents to Nigerians.

According to Mr Matthew Thompson, a pundit in the industry, the blame has to be shifted to the NBC who don't scrutinise programmes before they are aired. He said unless they are given much power to ban any programme with erotic content, the decadence would continue.

He said: "I don't know why we are crying over spilt milk. After all, they government has the power to say these are they programmes that would benefit out children. NTA is seen from many quotas as very local but on the contrary, they are the best. They are now competing favourably with other media, their programmes are always better."

"When the only thing people watch in Nigeria is violence, war, sex, erotic scenes and sometimes even porn, what do you expect from a generation with keen interest? Parents now are more interested in the money they would get from politicians, and politicians are more interested in being an American. There is no way things would get better unless we change our attitude and go back to the drawing board. Thank God for the national conference, at least it may also help in fashioning ways of putting these diseases to an end," he frowned.

What is still obtainable in school curriculums today are some of these TV stories which were acted to give viewers more understanding to what the books are saying.

The Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) should see this as a matter of urgency and take the bull by the horn.

Nigeria is a country made of traditions and culture which is also enshrined in its constitution. More values should be placed on education and information.

And most programmes that are not of benefit to the youths of Nigeria should be scraped to bring back sanity for a better tomorrow.