The Minister of Youth Development, Bolaji Abdullahi, has dismissed critics of the co-winner of the reality show, Big Brother Africa, Karen Igho, as sexist.
He also said that her visit to his office was formal, a courtesy call to inform him of her victory in the event and insisted that by virtue of his office, it was part of his duty to appreciate and encourage youths who win laurels for the country in any endeavour.
Abdullahi made this clarification in reaction to comments by those who disapproved of Miss Igho’s conduct during the reality show and said that the visit was not an endorsement of whatever they were complaining about.
The minister spoke to journalists after the ‘National Conference on Youth in the 2011 Elections and Strategies for Improved Participation in the Democratic Process’ organised by the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Abuja.
He said, “What I see here is a rising tendency to be sexist in this country in a way that is not acceptable. I mean someone won this competition (referring to Big Brother Africa) last year and he was hailed and hosted everywhere as if he was a hero. We didn’t know what he did in that house. Now, because Karen is a woman, therefore she is what? If it was a man that went into that programme and did all the escapades, will we be treating him like this?” the minister questioned.
Karen attracted rave reviews during the show with some describing her as free- spirited, possessing a strong character and overtly original. But to others, she came across as trashy and uncouth for her lewd actions in the house
Justifying the visit of the $200,000 prize money winner, the minister said, “what we did as a Ministry when we were informed that she will be visiting us I mean, we welcomed her. That does not mean the same thing as endorsing whatever she did or did not do.”
“If Fela were alive today and decides to visit my office, will that mean I am endorsing does who smoke things? If someone is a drug user and is a fantastic designer and he visits my office because he has designed something fantastic, does that mean we are endorsing the use of drugs? You see this is grand hypocrisy.
“No one mentioned anything about role modelling. Nobody mentioned anything about being an ambassador. The DSTV people said that they will like to visit us with Karen and we hosted them in my office. The whole thing didn’t even last an hour,” he insisted.