UNESCO, MAIN reaffirm commitment to community radio operations
In furtherance of their commitment to promoting free, independent and pluralistic media in Nigeria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and Media Awareness and Information For All Network (MAIN) recently held a two-day workshop on ‘Community radio start-up, sustainability and national development’ at Akure, Ondo State capital.
At the workshop, UNESCO Abuja Regional Director, Mr. Yao Ydo, reiterated the commitment of UNESCO to supporting sustainable community radio operations in the country, saying, “Community radio is a major participatory medium that engenders inclusive and sustainable development.”
Represented by the National Professional Officer for Communication and Information, Mr Olushola Macaulay, the Director noted, “As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote ‘the free flow of ideas by word and image’, UNESCO works to foster free, independent and pluralistic media. UNESCO advocates strongly for community media that are independent and which are run for and by the community.”
While welcoming participants, the Chairman of MAIN, Professor Lai Oso said the workshop was absolutely necessary in view of the low start-up among community radio licence holders.
According to him, “of the 17 licences issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria, only three have started operations. And they include, Lavun Community Radio, Kutigi Niger State; Kakaki Ondo Community Radio (Ekimogun), Ondo State and Agba Community Radio, Benue State.”
The workshop, he stressed, would afford NBC, UNESCO and MAIN the understanding of the challenges of licencees with a view to proferring solutions. Also, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Communities and Communication, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, emphasised the premium Lagos State Government places on community radio as a medium of community development.
He disclosed that the government of Lagos State planned to establish community radio stations in the local government areas of the state. This, he said, would be in phases and would give voice to the voiceless and disadvantaged population.
In his keynote address, Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Is’haq Modibbo-Kawu, represented by the Director of Policy and Research, Mallam Muhammad Mujtaba` Sada, reminded the community radio licence holders of the terms and conditions of their licences, noting that they needed to operationalise their licences in order to lose them.
Mallam Modibbo-Kawa asked the community radio licencees to always inform the commission of their challenges and provide updates on the status of their start-up processes.
Participants were taken on a field trip to Ekimogun Community Radio (Kakaki-Ondo) 100.1 FM Ondo town on the second day, and participants who have not started operations due to perceived high cost of equipment were shocked to see the improvisation and low-cost equipment with which Ekimogun community radio ran its transmission.
Inspired by the experience at Ekimogun community radio station, representatives of Dawanu Market Association community radio Kano, Messrs Abdulazi Z. Maikano and Yau Nuhu Tumfafi expressed their relief about the certainty of a quick start-up of their community radio station in Kano.
According to Dr Goke Rauf representing MAPOLY Radio, Abeokuta Ogun State, Ekimogun Community Radio operation has demystified community radio start-up and strengthened the resolve of participants to quicken their start-up process.
At the end of the two-day workshop, the participants representing community radio initiatives from North-East, North Central, North-West, South West, South-South and South-East adopted an eight-point communique.
According to the communique, the participants resolved that community radio station operators should have a platform to come together to discuss challenges, solve problems and ultimately speak as one voice.
This would include, the setting-up of a Whatsapp page, creating a group email and holding of quarterly meetings; that NBC should be more supportive in facilitating licenses and provision of operational support to community radio stations in Nigeria.
It also stated that UNESCO and MAIN should organize another workshop in the nearest future, where success stories and capacity of community radio personnel would be assessed and enhanced; that community radio should pursue their goals within the NBC framework that establishes Community Radio in Nigeria.
The participants further resolved that community radio licensees should think less of setting up stations with sophisticated equipment and huge capital; community radio stations should elaborate on resource mobilisation that will include local sources of funding and grant from donor agencies.
“Community radio operators should be devoid of political interferences. Community radio managers should develop skills on proposal writing through the intervention of UNESCO/MAIN to be able to successfully attract grants from international donor agencies,” the communique concluded.
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