Nigerian TV Shows That Rocked the 90s and Early 2000s


Over time, the Nigerian entertainment industry has been able to roll out quality movies and series that have engaged audiences, created conversations and taught moral lessons. Some of these TV shows have stood the test of time and are still being talked about. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look back at some shows that rocked the 90s and early 2000s.

Checkmate (1991 -1994)

Jhe Sunday night soap opera has fascinated Nigerians for three years. Checkmate was the story of the noble Haatrope family struggling to resist attacks from adversaries inside and outside the family, created and written by the late Amaka Igwe. Many people knew Ego Boyo, the late Francis Agu, Norbert Young and the charismatic Richard Mofe Damijo, who played Segun Kadiri, from the soap opera. Checkmate also addressed societal concerns such as polygamy and worship.

Things Fall Apart (1987)

This is another classic NTA TV show. The classic work by Chinua Achebe was adapted by the Nigerian Television Authority in 1987. Pete Edochie portrayed Okonkwo, the film’s main character. Also present were the late Justus Esiri, Sam Loco Efe and Nkem Owoh. The NTA adaptation is one of NTA’s finest moments in terms of creating a flawless TV show that has appealed to multiple generations.

The village director (1968-1988)

The Village Headmaster is one of Nigeria’s best-known television shows. It was the National Television Authority’s longest-running series, airing for two decades. The late Justus Esiri, Dejumo Lewis, Funsho Adeolu and Enebeli Elebuwa were among the stars of The Village Headmaster. The TV show focused on “trans harmony, problem solving and engagement in public issues, health education and family fun”, among other topics.

Moonlight Tales (1984)

The NTA developed a children’s show which became a smash hit. Victoria Ezeokoli, then director of programs for NTA, produced Tales by Moonlight. The 30-minute show was created to compete with Sesame Street, a popular children’s television show in the United States. Tales by Moonlight was created with the aim of spreading African folktales.

The show ended in the 1990s after a long run. It returned to the airwaves in the 2000s, however, albeit with little impact.

Cock Crow at Dawn (1980s)

Cock Crow at Dawn was a weekly television program broadcast on NTA and sponsored by the Union Bank of Africa. Its aim was to educate Nigerians about agriculture as a viable investment. Peter Igho came up with the idea and wrote the screenplay. Bongos Ikwue composed the theme song. Cock Crow at Dawn was produced by NTA Jos, who was responsible for a slew of high-quality television productions in the 1980s. Prior to its cancellation, Cock Crow at Dawn aired 104 episodes.

Koto Orun (90s)

This TV series produced by Yekini Ajileye was a must for anyone in the South West in the 1990s. It was a great way to spend a Sunday night. The series focused on the conflict between good and bad powers in a pre-colonial hamlet. Koto Orun is one of the best television programs Nigeria has ever created, with intriguing characters and gripping storylines.

Fuji house of commotion (2000s)

The Amaka Igwe directed and produced a comedy series, which was an offshoot of Checkmate, delightfully depicts the unusual experience of living in a polygamous household. This series was one of the best comedies on Nigerian television thanks to the hilarious skills of Kunle Bamtefa, Ngozi Nwosu and the supporting actors.

Samanja (1973 – 1980)

The comedy show was first broadcast on NTA Kaduna and later on Radio Kaduna in 1973. Its growing popularity earned it a spot on national television. To accommodate a wider audience, the format has been adjusted. The show’s language changed from Hausa to Pidgin. Veteran actor Usman Baba Pategi played Sgt Samanja, a hilarious soldier with various rib-cracking antics, in the film set in a military barracks.

I Need to Know (1997-2002)

The television series, which starred Nigerian actress Funke Akindele and was sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund, was an educational show.

The TV show followed the lives of seven high school students as they navigated their teenage years. The show’s main topics were HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy.

Kalamashaka composed the hugely popular theme song. I Need to Know was a television show aimed specifically at teenagers.


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