“The series will show effective ways of handling and resolving conflicts and will among other things raise the issues of ethnicity and religious identity,” the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) said in a statement.
“We think this can be a very good way of reaching young people. A lot of young people watch TV, almost 90 percent watch TV everyday” in Nigeria, Helena Bjuremalm from Sida’s division for democratic governance told AFP.
Sweden’s contribution will amount to five million kronor, out of a total budget of around 40 million kronor, Sida said.
Entitled “The Academy”, the show has a potential audience of 40 million people across the west African country. The first episode will air in late April.
The series will feature 20 Nigerians, aged 18 to 45 and of different gender, ethnic and religious backgrounds, who will live under the same roof, learn the art of acting and television production, and together resolve any conflicts that may arise.
Some 56,000 Nigerians had applied to take part in the show, Sida said.
“According to the UN, Nigeria has been formally recognized as a democracy since 1999. But the country has in recent years been plagued by conflicts, clashes and violence, and more than 10,000 people have been killed,” Sida said.
The agency noted that the problems in Nigeria are often of religious, ethnic or regional origin, and many young people who are without jobs “risk being drawn into militant groups and violent gangs.”
“The aim (of the series) is to give young people role models who can show that there are other ways of living together than through distrust, prejudices or resorting to violence,” Bjuremalm said.
The four finalists of “The Academy” will be offered roles in a TV drama series entitled “The Station”.
The reality show is being produced by the international organisation Search for Common Ground, which promotes peace, democracy and human rights and has already supported media projects in Macedonia and Burundi, Sida said.