By Jayne Augoye
The inaugural edition of Big Brother Nigeria reality show hit the TV screens 12 years ago. It was aired on DSTV channel 37 from March 5 to June 4, 2006.
As the first reality show from this popular Big Brother franchise solely dedicated to the Nigerian market, it was fresh and exciting.
The hosts of the maiden edition were Olisa Adibua and actress, Michelle Dede. The reality TV show set the tone for Nigerian pop culture and also gave room for similar programmes to thrive.
Big Brother Nigeria originally had 12 original housemates: Frank, Ify, Ebuka, Chinedu, Francisca, Gideon, Helen, Ichemeta, Joan, Joseph, Maureen and Yinka. Katung and Sandy would later enter the house as wild card entries.
At the end of the three-month stay in the house, Katung Aduwak emerged winner -he got the $100,000 prize money.
Over the years, many of the former housemates have moved on to various pursuits that have kept them out of the spotlight, while others have remained in the limelight.
Here, PREMIUM TIMES revisits the ‘original’ Big Brother Nigeria contestants to see what they have been up to more than a decade after.
1. Katung Aduwak
Katung was 26 years old when he won the inaugural edition of BBNaija going home with the $100,000 prize money. Despite being the first to get a confirmation to be a contestant in the show, Katung didn’t enter the house with the initial 12 contestants. His win was therefore surprising since he came into the house after the second eviction and won about 80 per cent of the tasks.
In an interesting twist, he and his co-housemate, Sandy, were kept in isolation with no external contact and zero access to TV or news for three weeks before being introduced to the show.
Shortly after winning reality show, Katung went on to study filmmaking at the Digital Film Academy in New York. After 7 years, Katung who has been privileged to work with top organisations is currently pursuing his passion for film making.
He produced and directed the movies Unwanted Guest and Heaven’s Hell.
He also directed a number of music videos for Chocolate City, Styl Plus and Gabriel Afolayan. He also starred in EbonyLife TV’s drama series, Desperate Housewives. Katung is currently the Senior Channel Manager MTV Base and an Executive Director at Chocolate City.
2. Ebuka Obi-Uchendu
Ebuka Obi-Uchendu is unarguably the most popular Big Nigeria contestant even though he was the seventh housemate to be evicted. He went on to write for a number of newspapers and magazines. He also anchored some high profile events before taking a break to go back to school for his master’s degree in Law.
Ebuka has become a media personality of note. He has won several awards and was also honoured by the Federal Government among Top 100 Young Nigerians to mark Nigeria’s centenary celebration in 2014.
Interestingly, he returned to “Big Brother Nigeria” as an anchor in 2017 and 2018.
3. Gideon Okeke
Nollywood hunk, Gideon Okeke, was evicted from the Big Brother house on Day 50. But it didn’t deter him from pursing a career in acting. He snagged a role as Philips Ade Williams on the MNET produced soap opera Tinsel almost immediately.
His famous face adorns movie posters in several cinema houses in Nigeria. His acting prowess has also earned him a number of accolades and recognition, including an award for Best Actor in a TV series (Drama) Nigerian Entertainment Award in 2010 and a nomination for Best Actor in a Drama in the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award in 2015.
He has been a part of big budget stage productions such as critically acclaimed SARO The Musical. He has also hosted several TV shows and events and is the CEO of a media outfit, AppleBox.
4. Francisca Owumi
Francisca Owumi. [Photo credit: BellaNaija]
Dubbed the fiery dancer during her stay at the Big Brother Nigeria House, pretty Francisca Owumi emerged first runner up. After a stint as a writer at Revista, an international magazine based in Ghana, she made a feeble attempt into the Nigerian music industry with two singles Gbadun you and Diva. She is currently a talk show host at Fashionista TV.
5. Ify Ejikeme
Another popular face, Ify Ejikeme placed third in the Big Brother reality TV show.
Ify Ejikeme. [Photo credit: Big Brother Wiki – Fandom]
While in the Big Brother House, she had an amorous on-the-screen relationship with the eventual winner, Katung. The relationship fizzled out at the end of the show. Ify is currently an entrepreneur and is based in New Jersey.
6. Sandra Osaigbovo
Sandra Osaigbovo. [Photo credit: Coolval22.com]
Also known as ‘Sandy’, she finished fourth in the Big Brother Nigeria House. Ten years after the curtain fell on the competition, Sandra is now a certified fitness trainer and Zumba instructor. She is also a Fellow at the Institute of Registered Exercise Professionals.
7. Maureen Osuji
The majority public opinion/vote at the time saw the then 23-year-old Psychology graduate, Maureen Osuji , evicted from Big Brother Nigeria.
Maureen Osuji. [Photo credit: Big Brother Wiki – Fandom]
She opted for a career in the corporate world after the Big Brother Nigeria experience. She later proceeded to the Fashion Retail Academy in London for a degree in Fashion Buying Merchandising. Maureen, who also had a stint in Nollywood, is currently a Creative Director and independent media buyer at Aurora Daniels.
8. Frank Konwea
Known for his outspoken nature in the house, Frank continued his career as a professional dancer, performing at several shows and concerts.
Frank Konwea. [Photo credit: Big Brother Naija]
He was also a judge on a popular dance TV show. He has two decades experience in stage productions dance and drama, TV series and a few movies. A theatre artist, Frank has featured in quite a number of stage plays, dance pieces local and mostly international.
9. Ichemeta Ochoche nee Ichemeta Ochoga
Beautiful Ichemeta Ochoga was the first evictee from the Big Brother Nigeria reality show. The youngest contestant at the time, she went out of the radar shortly after her exit.
Ichemeta Ochoche nee Ichemeta Ochoga. [Photo credit: Nairaland Forum]
Now married, Ichemeta is currently based in Markurdi, Benue State where she practices as a teacher and preacher of the gospel.
10. Joseph Ada
Joseph Ada. [Photo credit: Big Brother Naija]
The then 32-year-old Joseph Ada was the oldest housemate in the Big Brother Nigeria house. Joseph worked as a flight attendant at the time. He was the 9th contestant to be eliminated from the house. He is currently based in Washington, US, where runs his own concierge services company.
11. Helen Eremiokhale
Helen Eremiokhale was one of the 12 housemates in the inaugural Big Brother Nigeria. She was referred to as the ‘mama’ of the house because of her passion for cooking meals for everyone in the house. Helen presently runs a catering outfit, Helen’s Kitchen.
12. Joan Agabi
This pretty single mom was a house favourite. Upon leaving the show, she delved into acting and starred in movies like Be My Val 2 and Twisted. She is an active player in the hospitality industry.
13. Chinedu Amah
Chinedu Amah partook in Big Brother Nigeria at age 24. He was also a strong contender in the show and has always been self-employed.
He is currently the CEO of Spark Media Ltd, a communications company focused on the Nigerian power sector.
14. Yinka Oremosu
The braid-wearing, six feet eight inches tall, one-time musician, Yinka Oremosu, was an all-round entertainer in the house. Today, he is a man of many parts. He is a travel curator/blogger, hotel reviewer, radio personality and masseur.