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15 Chibok Girls Get University Scholarships

1 Sep

Chibok girls

Nine days after the United Nations disclosed plans to rehabilitate the 15 Chibok schoolgirls who escaped from Boko Haram captivity, the girls have also gained admission to study any course of their choice at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Adamawa State.

Former Vice-President and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain, Atiku Abubakar, made this disclosure yesterday on his Facebook and Twitter page.

This gesture came a day after he had a little soirée with his daughters where he said their presence painfully reminds him that prayers should be made for the safe return of the other Chibok girls who remain in captivity.

His tweet read: “Spending time with my daughters painfully reminds me that we must keep praying for the safe return or the Chibok girls #BringBackOurGirls.”

Hours after that initial tweet, he again took to the social media to disclose that 15 of the girls have been granted scholarships, although he did not specify the terms of the scholarship.

Tweeting from @atiku he said, “It is heartbreaking to see how much the Chibok parents have suffered. We must pray for the safe return of all the girls #BringBackOurGirls
“15 of the #ChibokGirls who escaped have been admitted into the AUN academy on a scholarship.

“My sincere thanks to the good spirited individuals and friends who raised funds for this worthy cause. #BringBackOurGirls.”

The 15 students are just a minute number of the 276 students who were abducted four months ago, precisely on April 14, from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

To encourage the escaped students not to quit on education and all it offers, Atiku in collaboration with other yet-to-be identified individuals, offered them scholarship in the elite school,which was established in 2005.

For the naysayers who doubted the authenticity of the news and claimed it was all for cheap political points, Atiku, went on to tweet the pictures of the girls in a classroom.

Jonathan attends AU Peace and Security Council meeting in Nairobi

1 Sep

President Jonathan

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan leaves Abuja Monday to join about 14 other African leaders at the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting scheduled to take place Tuesday in Nairobi, Kenya. 

The Nairobi meeting, which is a follow-up to talks by the President and other African leaders at Pretoria, South Africa in May this year on joint action against terrorism is expected receive and consider the report of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa.

Besides, a statement by the Presidential Spokesman, Reuben Abati in Abuja said deliberations at the Nairobi Summit and the adoption of the African Chairperson’s Report by President Jonathan, President Uhuru Kenyatta and other participating Heads of State are expected lead to more collaborative actions by Nigeria and other African countries to rid the continent of acts of terrorism and violent extremism.

The Council, which is a crucial department of the regional body saddled with the responsibility of preventing, managing and resolving conflicts in Africa, has on its next agenda the ongoing Boko Haram violence in Nigeria, the insurgency in Mali as well as other terror- related activities going on in the continent.

The Council also has on its agenda the implementation of the operational conclusions of the 5th meeting of Heads of intelligence and security services of Sahel-Saharan countries, held on May 19 and 20 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) is the African Union’s (AU’s) standing decision-making body responsible for the maintenance of continental peace and security and it came into existence officially on the 26th of December, 2003.

It has 15 members, elected by the AU Executive Council on regional basis (three from Central Africa; three from East Africa; two from North Africa; three from Southern Africa; and four from West Africa).

Members are elected for three-year (five members) or two-year (ten members) terms and can be re-elected immediately for another term. There are no permanent members and no veto. PSC chairmanship rotates on a monthly basis, in alphabetical order of the English-language names of member states.

The President, who would be accompanied to the Nairobi Summit by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) as well as other advisers and aides will return to Abuja at the conclusion of the meeting on Tuesday.

 

Enugu to commence export of pineapples to Europe

1 Sep

San carlos pineapple

THE Enugu State Government of Nigeria is to commence the shipment of Pineapple to Europe this year from the 150 hectares of the Enugu-San Carlos Pineapple farm in the state.

The State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Chuks Ugwoke announced this while briefing the press at the end of the State Executive Council meeting chaired by the State Governor, Mr. Sullivan Chime at the Government House, Enugu.

Mr. Ugwoke also disclosed that the council approved the introduction of livestock (cattle) and invests in banana production in the farm jointly owned by the state government and San Carlos, an American based farm conglomerate.

According to the Commissioner, for the take-off of the new projects in the farm, the council approved the sum of over N880,873,524.00 as the state equity counterpart contribution of the investment cost.

The Commissioner stated that the council approved the sum of over N1,167,789,201.36 for the completion of construction work on two major inter-local government rural roads in parts of the state.

 

I Never had a University Degree – Mrs Folorunsho Alakija

29 Aug

Folorunsho-Alakija-December-2013-Forbes-Africa-BellaNaija

Mrs Folorunsho Alakija needs no introduction, but for those who might have not heard of her she is a businesswoman Ikorodu, Lagos State. A business tycoon involved in the fashion, oil and printing industries. Forbes ranks her as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion as of 2014 and listed her as the 96th most powerful woman in the world.

Mrs Alakija while talking to students of the University of Lagos admitted that she didn’t attend a university.

“I come from Ikorodu, Lagos state. I am married to a dashing young lawyer of 70 years of age and we have four grown up gentlemen and grandchildren. It has not been a rag to riches fairytale. It has not been an overnight phenomenon like some cases which you find here and there all over the world. For as long as I can remember, I had always wanted my own business. Hard work…am trying to tell you how I got to where I am if you want those billions. Hard work, diligence, persistence…days where you nearly gave up but I chose not to give up.”

It would have been easy to compromise but I chose not to and I stayed focus. I could have stayed a secretary as my father desired according to his plan for me but I had bigger aspirations.

Folorunsho

I dreamt big. God strengthened me and gave me wisdom. I had a passion and burning desire to succeed. Being a secretary, a banker, a fashion icon, a cooperate promoter and printer, a real estate owner, an oil magnate, that I can assure you was no easy feat. Firm belief that what is worth doing is what doing well or not doing at all. I took charge of my life with the tools I have shared with you.

I chose to become born again at the age of 40. I chose to make a covenant with God that if he would bless me I would work for him all the days of my life. I chose to hold on to the cross and look up to him every step of the way.

Today additional accomplishment includes a wife of almost 40 years, a mother, grandmother, ministry, counseling, outreach, NGO Rose of Sharon Foundation for widows and Author, writer, author of several inspirational books. All I say to the glory of God. So I am 63 and I am not yet done. So what is your excuse?

I never went to a University and I am proud to say so because I don’t think I have done too badly. You do not have to have a University education to be able to make it so count yourselves privileged to have that education as part of the feather in your cap.

Nigerian-born Bronx NY Filmmaker Ani Akpan Gets $2.5 Million Dollars Grant

29 Aug

Ani 1

“VUE NOIRE” first Bronx-based motion picture company officially accepts the Creative Talent and Corporate Underwriting Grant of $2.5 Million Dollars on Monday, August 25th, 2014, Bronx, New York.

Eighteen year old Filmmaker Ani Akpan, born in Nigeria, Africa, arrived to New York City at age 4 along with his parents, brother & sister. The Akpan family, refer to the Bronx as “home”. Both Mr. & Mrs. Akpan are public school teachers in the Highbridge Community where they also raised Ani and his siblings while simultaneously managing an array of successful entrepreneurial endeavors.

Ani inherited a passion for video production from his Father, Imeh, who also stressed the importance of academic excellence, leadership skills, and social responsibilities. This led Ani toward developing himself as a freelance contractor in multimedia at age of 16. Additionally, it positioned Ani for the acceptance to the prestigious Browning High School where he consistently excelled in all of its diverse aspects.

ani 2Ani experienced one-on-one grooming by Director Spike Lee, as a result of winning a string of web-based short film projects. In January 2014, his indie films ignited a significant viral buzz through his self-published website. It garnered an international audience and ultimately the attention of studios execs from Warner Bros. Pictures who offered their support via access to Creative Talent Foundation–a charitable organization & endowment operating the largest film, TV, game, & theater operation purposed to scout, market, & provide corporate support to the world’s most prolific filmmakers & cinematographers at the onset of their careers.

The teenager made his most ambitious move to-date when he agreed to take up the programme’s grueling and strenuious submission process in the pursuit of cooperative, distribution, and marketing support of more than Two Million Dollars; all while maintaining his full-time scholastic, volunteering, family, & church responsibilities.

It would be more than five months before Ani would see the end of the Foundation’s review process, and on that final day he sat with his parents and production partners, in great anticipation, as he open the certified mail that would convey the results of their efforts. On July 28th, Ani Akpan soared to yet another height as a co-recipient of the Creative Talent Grant as well as a major distribution cooperative venture agreement thereby supplying the proverbial “greenlight” for Akpan’s first feature film as well as the realization & first tangible step toward opening the Bronx’ first motion picture lot exactly upon the location where he dreamed of making music videos and epic films as a young boy.

On Monday, August 25th, 2014, at 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, Ani Akpan, parents Imeh & Enobong Apkan, and his production partners officially commemmorate day by the formal acceptance ceremony of the $2.5M Cooperative Underwriters Agreement & Creative Talent International Grant as well as the ceremonial groundbreaking, debut, and launch of the Bronx’ first studio lot; Vue Noire LLC.

Akpan will also present the first exclusive and media junket debut of the company’s first feature film project. The occasion will be marked by additional presentations by Time Warner Executive Lucinda Farrow, and New York City Metropolitan Press Club.

 

 

 

Power! Think Change Think Kate Henshaw

29 Aug

kate 1

Do you want change in cross river and Nigeria as a whole? Then Kate Henshaw might be the right candidate of choice.

When the news first hit the media that the star actress was delving into politics, lots of people took it as a piece of cake as they thought it wasn’t true, until she confirmed it.

Now she’s more serious than ever. She recently sat down for an interview with Sahara reporters where she spoke on her plans to contest for a seat in the Federal House of representative in Cross River State.

The star actress talked about her ambition, challenges she may face, and what she has to offer to Crossriverians.

When asked if she would be giving up acting for good, she said that she is only taking a break from acting for 8 years to serve the country after which she would return to her first love, acting.

kate 2

Kate used Arnold Schwarzenegger as her reference saying that he too was an actor turned governor and is doing well for California.

The mother of one also said she is contesting with God in her heart knowing that she has other contender who are more experienced and financially stronger than her.

President Jonathan Unveils National Electronic-ID Card, says it will boost economic growth

29 Aug

joe 1

President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday, formally launched  the issuance process for the National Electronic Identity Card (E-Id Card), advising Nigerians to make adequate use of the card as it provides various opportunities that can spur economic growth.

 The launch was held at the banquet hall, Presidential Villa.

Describing the launch of the card as a milestone, the president expressed happiness that his administration’s vision of a reliable national identity database was finally coming to reality.

Jonathan directed the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to issue the card to all federal public servants and pensioners for speedy and safe payment of salaries and pensions.

“I’m quite pleased today that with the NIMC’s success story, we are moving forward as a nation,” he said.

“I have taken keen interest in this project, primarily because of the pervasive impact it can have on every facet of the socioeconomic fabric of our dear nation.

“I’m particularly pleased about NIMC because there are a number of things we are supposed to do well as a nation that we are not doing well and sometimes we blame government, but they are because of the failure of the system and the credibility of the process.

“The commission should immediately complement the efforts of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) and Pension Department by ensuring that federal civil servants and pensioners are enrolled and issued their cards promptly, so that the e-ID and the secure payment platform can both facilitate speedy and safe payment of salaries and pensions.

“The card is not only a means of certifying your identity, but also a personal database repository and payment Card, all in your pocket!’ – President Jonathan

He said the benefits of the card cut across the public and private sectors, maintaining that it would go a long way in addressing issues of national importance.

Joe 2

“There will be more clarity around all forms of transactions and relationships. Significantly, some of the issues around identity-related theft and other such criminal vices and activities that are inimical to our national interests would be better addressed more efficiently.

“The fact that the project helps to establish the identity of the individual in such a way that privacy is assured and updating personal information is made easier.

“The project will also create effective access to the database in a more secure and user-friendly and reliable manner for the MDAs and even the private sector.”

 The president said he was impressed with the quality of the e-ID Card and the work of the corporate partners that  made it possible.

 He  commended  MasterCard World-Wide Corporation and Access Bank Plc, as well as the Commission, who followed all laid down procedures in achieving a World-class product.

Nigerian Strikers in the English Premier League: Odemwingie & Moses vs. Anichebe & Ideye

29 Aug

EPL 1

Victor Moses playing for Stoke City

Both Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion will be calling on the services of a pair of Nigerian strikers this season, but who’s got the better duo?

DEBATE
By James Ezimoha & Solace Chukwu

Nigerian forwards appear to be en vogue in the Premier League mid-table this season.

Beyond Sone Aluko, who will likely star on the right for Hull City, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City are both likely to feature a pair of Super Eagles attackers.

At the Albion, Victor Anichebe, who arrived last summer, has been joined by Ideye Brown. The former Dynamo Kyiv striker may be the Baggies’ all-time record signing, but having missed out on Nigeria’s World Cup squad, he has a point to prove.

At Stoke City, veteran Peter Odemwingie has been joined by Victor Moses.

The one-time Super Eagles hero has fallen on hard times of late. He is unwanted at Chelsea and flopped at Liverpool.

He, too, has to reassert himself this season.

In this Debate, two Goal Nigeria writers compare the pairings and argue which duo will be the most potent this term.

Ideye & Big Vic: Opportunity & Responsibility

West Bromwich Albion clung on to 36 points to avoid relegation last season.  

Over the summer they moved swiftly to annihilate last season’s woes, (only seven wins in 38 English top-flight games) signing Brown Ideye to complement the efforts of a strike force that includes Victor Anichebe. Coincidence? Certainly not. 

EPL brown

West Bromwich Albion broke their transfer record with the £10m signing of striker Brown Ideye from Dynamo Kyiv on a three-year deal

With two games and two points already in the bag, the Nigeria duo boast four attempts on goal.
Momentum is gathering speedily, and quite plausibly, it’s only a matter of time before they start to find the back of the net. 

Within the context of direct importance to a club’s overall ambitions, the influence of Ideye and Anichebe at the Hawthorns far outshines the prospects of their countrymen, Peter Odemwingie and Victor Moses, at Stoke City.  

On the back of a productive pre-season with the Baggies, Anichebe has started both games for Alan Irvine’s men. At home to Sunderland, he won a penalty, which Saido Berahino converted. Away to Southampton, which ended 0-0, he was on for 52 minutes—and replaced by…yes, Ideye! 

EPL 2

Anichebe | Hoping to fire the Baggies away from the relegation zone

Irvine, understandably, has gradually eased Ideye into the system following his move from Dynamo Kiev, where he scored 33 goals in 78 appearances, to England.  

No qualms at all.  

In a 38-miunte run-out on his debut, there were plenty of signs to show that Irvine has struck gold with a potential goal-machine at his disposal. 

After Ideye replaced Anichebe, who led the Baggies in badgering and probing the Saints’ defense tirelessly, seven minutes after the break, he almost snatched a late goal—a possible winner—only for Fraser Forster to thwart him.

Ideye’s goal-scoring prowess (which was why West Bromwich broke the club’s transfer record in the first place) has never been in doubt, and the £10 million-pound man looks every bit a player who will thrive at the Hawthorns. Once he settles in properly, hopefully soon, and scores his first goal, there’s a sense he could fire on with inextinguishable confidence—with an eye on a Super Eagles return, of course. 

As for Anichebe, already tipped by his manager for big things this season, he is set to play a big role for the Baggies.  

Unlike the ‘wingers’ at the Britannia Stadium, who could find themselves on the brinks given the vicious competition for places on the flanks in Mark Hughes’s squad, Ideye and Anichebe are shaping up nicely to play a prominent role for the Baggies this season. 

Odemwingie & Moses: Better Together

Stoke’s Nigerian dynamic duo of Peter Odemwingie and Victor Moses promises to be quite effective in the Premier League this term.
Here’s why. 

First off, in comparison to the Nigerian pair at the Hawthorns, there will certainly be a larger window to excel. Considering the skill-sets of Victor Anichebe and Brown Ideye, it is highly unlikely that both will work well together in tandem. 

Anichebe is the archetypal target man, relying on his physical prowess almost exclusively. He possesses decent pace in bursts, but is not especially clinical. Ideye on the other hand, is amazingly mobile and is a workaholic, the sort of striker to lead a press and run defenders into the ground. 

They do share similarities: both are big strikers, not reliable finishers and neither is adept at dropping deep to receive the ball. 

This is where Odemwingie and Moses as a pair has the advantage. 

EPL 3

Odemwingie | Knows what it means to carry the goal-scoring burden in the Black Country

Moses is very much a winger: full of flair and while possessing speed, he prefers to slow the game down before exploding in a burst of movement. His poor World Cup showing will perhaps cause many to forget, but when the on-loan Chelsea man is sufficiently motivated, he can be a fearsome weapon. 

Odemwingie on the other hand is a player often misunderstood. He exploded onto the scene for the national team as a pacy forward, but has spent much of the intervening period featuring as a winger for the Super Eagles. Watch him closely and you will understand his is not especially suited to the role; acceleration is not everything. He is suited to the role of second striker more, not being an especially good dribbler. 

This contrast is what gives the Stoke pair an edge. 

Odemwingie finished last season in useful form, forcing his way into the Nigerian World Cup team. He is a proven scorer of important goals, and Moses has the trickery from out wide that is perhaps absent from the Brittania locker room. Moses of course has a point to prove as he aims to salvage a career that is drifting toward mediocrity.
If this does not motivate him, nothing else will. 

Also, their differences enhance the likelihood of the pair actually linking up in the same starting lineup, an unlikely possibility for the West Bromwich duo of strikers. 

The possibilities are truly exciting. What are the odds of a Moses assist for an Odemwingie winner in the 93rd minute, I wonder? 

Culled from Goal Nigeria

Broadcasting, politics and strategic interest amidst security concerns in Nigeria – written by Umaru A. Pate

29 Aug

Umaru Pate

Prof Umaru Pate is a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication in Bayero University, Kano

INTRODUCTION

Permit me to begin by thanking the management of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) under the leadership of Alhaji Ladan Salihu for inviting me to join and share with the family of the FRCN some of my thoughts on the perspectives of broadcasting, politics and national interest in the era of widespread security concerns in the land.

Let me especially thank the Director General and the organizing committee for finding me worthy for this responsibility. I must specifically commend the FRCN on sustaining its leadership and organizational excellence in Nigeria and Africa. Similarly, I wish to commend the choice of theme for this retreat, which focuses on the imperatives of broadcasting and politics with special reference to the subject of strengthening the capacity and improving the performance of broadcasting in contemporary Nigeria. The topic is apt in helping us to re-examine our efforts in the broadcasting sector at this critical time of our nationhood when the country is struggling to fully democratize amidst challenging circumstances. I am confident that with the caliber of persons here, the subject will be appropriately addressed.

  Specifically, I have been requested to focus my attention on the linkages between broadcasting, politics and the dynamics of national interest and security concerns in the country. In doing so, we shall examine the existing national broadcasting architecture, behavior, performance, coverage and limitations in responding to national strategic issues and contributing to the resolution of evolving challenges in the land.

    In Nigeria, the radio still maintains the position of the leading source of information as well as a key element of influence in the society. This is due in part to culture, economics, and structural as well as systemic factors.  Many of the cultures in the land are orally oriented; in many of Nigeria’s communities, people talk and listen far more than they read or write. Secondly, the prevailing economic status of the majority of the citizens coupled with an unattractive reading culture limits the reach and influence of the print medium in the land; and, thirdly, television is still not freely and easily accessible nationwide for fairly obvious reasons of reach and cost. For the social media, personal computers are out of the reach of most citizens because of income inhibition and broadband limitation, even though the 2012 Gallup survey had revealed a “massive growth in “connectedness” in past few years. All of those factors coupled with the simple and ubiquitous nature of the radio combine to give it a leading position in developing societies like Nigeria.

    A nationwide study by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2011 showed that Nigerians are heavily dependent on the radio as a major source of public information. The study entitled: Access to Information Communication Technology (2011) revealed that 80% of Nigerians have access to the radio and more than 95% have no access to the computer or internet and less than half of the population, about 44.7% had access to television. The survey showed that access to personal computers and the Internet is highest in Kogi state with 17.4%, although nearly all of them are not owned. The FCT and Lagos have access rates at 15.9% and 15.8% of which only five per cent are owned. All other states have lower than 10% access rates. National Internet access stood at 3.6% in 2011 but with only 0.5% claimed to own a connection device (The Nation, Dec 20, 2011). Equally, a study by Gallup on Nigeria Media Use in 2012 revealed that: “Almost 9 in 10 Nigerians (87.4%) say they listened to radio in the past week, and nearly three-quarters (72.5%) say they watched TV, even though incidence of radio use is similar in urban and rural environments, Nigerians who live in cities are more likely than those in rural areas to have watched TV in the past week …” The study further indicated that: More than nine in 10 Nigerians (92.6%) say they have a radio in their homes, while almost as many (87.4%) say they have listened to the radio in the past 7 days. There are no significant demographic differences between radio listeners and non-listeners — radio use is prevalent across all major demographic segments. 

  Nigerians listen primarily to FM stations — 93.6% of past-week radio listeners say they used FM during that time, while 45.3% say they used AM and 28.7% shortwave frequencies. Though Hausa speakers are about as likely as other Nigerians to say they used FM, they are considerably more likely to also use AM and shortwave bands. Overall, about 4 in 10 past-week listeners say they used a mobile phone to listen to the radio in the past week, with Hausa speakers somewhat less likely than non-Hausa speakers to have done so.

  From the foregoing, it is clear that in Nigeria, the radio, because of its convenience, ubiquity, cost effectiveness and portability, is still highly revered and respected as an exciting companion, reliable source of information and an influential informer. Thus, the justification for our continuous interest in advocating and promoting the cause of credible and effective national broadcasting system that is dynamic, pluralistic, independent and widely distributed; of course being sensitive to the great revolutions in the information and communication technologies sector. 

The mass media in Nigeria

 Nigeria is a democratic federal state with a three tier system of government comprising of a federal government, 36 states and 774 local government areas. It is a relatively huge country with a big landmass and a diverse and multicultural setting that is populated by more than 176 Million people of multiple ethnic groupings, religious affiliations, political orientations, social lines and economic opportunities, among others. Imagine the complexities and divergences that exist in the stretch from Port Harcourt to Sokoto; from Lagos to Maiduguri; or from Enugu to Yola.  And, just as the geographical landscape of the country varies, stretching from the Sahel savannah in the far north to the rain forest down south, so do the people differ in their outlooks but united in their humanity. It is also a country with many contradictions in terms of economic prosperity for a few and endemic poverty for the majority, high level of illiteracy, low health care indicators, corruption, etc. Nigeria is sometime rated a poor country with an increasing poverty, even though it is endowed with limitless human and material resources that are globally acknowledged but incompetently managed over a long period time.  

  On the media front, Nigeria has a fairly advanced and pluralistic mass media system that is reflective of the diversities in the nation. The system has a rich history and tradition of activism and for being able to serve as a major source of information as well as advocate at different moments in the history of the nation. The different organs of the media create awareness and understanding of happenings among the diverse peoples of the country. 

  Expectedly, all of the diversities and contradictions in the Nigerian nation are reflected in the country’s media. Issues like ideology, religion, regionalism, ethnicity, and politics of resource allocation, power sharing and other divisive national tendencies are openly debated on the pages of the newspapers and airwaves of the broadcast stations with no conclusive resolutions. Perhaps, intrigued by the boisterous nature of the newspapers, one foreigner commented that “from those newspapers, a foreigner can acquire a sense of what makes Nigerians angry, what they hope for, where they are realistic; where they are dreamers” (Schward, F.A.O, 1985) 

Broadcasting and political developments

The story of broadcasting in Nigeria is inextricably linked to the country’s political developments, politicians and the national interest.  The establishment and operations of radio stations have been influenced and affected by politicians just like how the institution had also affected and influenced the fortunes of politics and politicians in the country. To date, no serious politician underrates the efficacy of the radio and television in his calculations. Equally, we cannot underrate the contributions of the radio in the political growth, development and unity of the nation.

  From the beginning in 1932, and for a very long time, the broadcast media comprising of radio and television have remained the exclusive preserve of the government until 1992 when the sector was deregulated by the military government of General Babangida. In the colonial days when radio was introduced, its duty was basically to mobilize the people and support the policies of the colonial regime.

After independence in 1960, the three regions in the East, West and North and later the Midwest ventured into active broadcasting to complement, and in some cases, respond to the perceived challenge or unfair attitude of the federal government owned Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) stations in Lagos and the various regions. With the collapse of the first republic and the commencement of the civil war, the broadcast media revitalized their energies and united under the direction of the federal government to mobilize the populace and work towards defeating the propaganda antics of the Biafran rebels. In fact, Radio Biafra was reported to have put up tough propaganda machinery that stretched the Biafrans to the utmost and challenged the federal forces in and out of the country. 

  The government did not take the challenge of the rebels to dismember the nation lowly. It employed all its resources including the broadcast media to respond to the aggressive behaviour of the rebels. In the words of Udeajah (2004), “the Nigerian government would not have sustained its forces in the war for six months without the broadcast media of radio and television which tended to counterbalance the power of Radio Biafra…” At the end of the civil war in 1970, it was clear that the broadcast media had contributed significantly to the war effort. According to Udeajah (2004), “the media mobilized the populace to fight in order to keep Nigeria one. Constantly, they convinced the listeners and viewers that they were to be the beneficiaries of the resultant conquest of Biafra…they had to mobilize the citizens not only to accept the regime’s justification of the war but also to mobilize them to volunteer to fight…”.

  With the civil war over, the country embarked on the programme of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation to heal the wounds of the war and strengthen the unity, integration and cohesion of the nation. A number of policies and structures were implemented under the National Development Plans. The broadcast media took up the challenge and devised and carried several relevant programmes that facilitated the realization of the objectives of the National Plan and the reconciliation policy of Government. By then, Nigeria was already divided into twelve states with each of the states having a station of the NBC and its head office in Lagos; and the former regional headquarters maintained the big regional stations managed through the common services agreements. Some of the new states also established their TV stations thereby giving the country wider and diverse media coverage. Stations in different parts of the country exchanged programmes, they also hooked on to the NBC head office for national news in English and the translated versions and other nationally significant programmes.

  In 1975, as part of the effort to strengthen the nation’s unity, the Federal Military Government took over all the state owned television and the regionally based broadcast houses in Kaduna, Enugu and Ibadan to form the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).  Meanwhile, the existing federal government owned NBC stations were reverted to the then twelve state governments. At the same time, the Government took over the northern based New Nigerian Newspapers and acquired 60% shares of the Lagos based Daily Times. The government said that its determination to control the national media institutions should be “seen as a means of ensuring national cohesion in the process of nation building”. Then, in 1976, the broadcast sector received a big boost with the establishment of new radio stations by the additional newly created seven states.

  With the return to democratic rule in 1979, the broadcast media landscape in the country changed courtesy of two major policies. First, the states under the opposition parties opted to establish their individual television stations following a Supreme Court ruling that enabled the States to own and operate television stations. That judgment enabled the states to establish their stations. Accordingly, States like Borno, Gongola, Bendel, Plateau, etc established their individual stations in addition to the federal government owned NTA stations. On its part, the Federal Government established FRCN stations in all the States ruled by the opposition parties substantially to facilitate the NPN’s capture of the States in the 1983 general elections. Whether the stations had contributed to the success of the NPN or not, it is not for me to say here. That lasted for some months until the December 1983 coup that ushered in a new military government under General Muhammadu Buhari. In 1984, all the new FRCN stations in the states except the major national stations in Kaduna, Ibadan, Lagos and Enugu were closed down and their facilities handed over to the respective hosting states. 

  The tradition of establishing new radio and television stations continued with the creation of additional states to increase the number to the present thirty six. Correspondingly, the number of government owned broadcast media outfits also increased to the equal number of the States until the return to civil rule in 1999 when the Federal Government under the PDP government of President Obasanjo, once again, established FRCN FM stations in the States. Before then, the liberalization of the airwaves through the establishment of the National Broadcasting Commission in 1992, with the responsibility of licensing and regulating the broadcast industry had also facilitated the setting up of private broadcast outfits in the country, thus opening up radio and television services to private investors. Currently, state of the art private broadcasting outfits operate in many of the big cities in Nigeria, perhaps except in the North East part of Nig, where so far, there are less than four functional private radio television station in the whole zone.

The FRCN mandate

Nigeria operates a two tier broadcasting ownership system: state and private. The country is yet to implement the third leg of the globally acknowledged third tier system that incorporates community broadcasting. Hopefully, that may come soon. The state or public broadcasting system in the country is fashioned along the British and Indian style corporation type of public service broadcasting in which a board of governors with diverse representations is established to provide policy direction for the broadcaster on behalf of the government. It is important to emphasize that the broadcasting regime in Nigeria is structured to reflect the political arrangement as well as the diverse and heterogeneous nature of the country. The federal government owns and operates the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Voice of Nigeria (The External Broadcaster) while the individual states own and operate their broadcasting channels independent of the federal stations. 

  The FRCN has four zonal stations in Kaduna, Enugu, Ibadan and Gwagwalada, Abuja; an operational office in Lagos, and the national station at the headquarters. I am also aware the zones have been increased to six with one for the North East and the other for the South-South.  These zonal stations under the direction of the head office coordinate a network of over thirty seven channels operating in the states. By law, the FRCN is the radio channel with the exclusive right to broadcast on the Short wave band so that it can effectively cover the whole country.  On the other hand, all states and commercial stations are restricted to the MW and FM bands so that their signals are restricted to the boundaries of their states or areas of coverage covered by their licenses.

   From the above map, one can see that some parts are generously endowed in terms of the availability of radio facilities in the country while some appear to be in need. Perhaps, it was to avoid such a scenario that the federal government designated the FRCN as a national public service channel that is structurally designed to respond to the broadcasting needs of multicultural diversities in Nigeria. For example, conceptually, the zonal stations are designated to have language services, possibly operate multiple channels to effectively cover their individual zones in news and programmes and importantly be able to reach all parts of the country, so that, for instance, an Igbo man in Maiduguri can remain connected to the East through FRCN Enugu while getting informed about happenings in the West through FRCN Ibadan or the North through Kaduna.

  Equally, anybody at any point in Nigeria should at anytime of the day tune to the FRCN and get the latest information in any of major languages without waiting for a probable connection at the local level by 7 am, 4pm or 10pm. That should be the minimum service that an ordinary Nigerian should expect from the FRCN. But to what extent is the FRCN being able to effectively discharge its mandate as Nigeria’s public broadcaster? Is the corporation able to reflect contemporary realism in terms of being a national institution that is sufficiently and professionally covering the entire nation as it did in the past? What is the state of its shortwave transmission facilities since the last ten years or so?  How are the existing FM stations in the states faring in terms of operations? How is FRCN sustaining the loyalty of 100 Million listeners as advertised on its website? How is the corporation addressing some of its obvious challenges that have mounted over time? Are the capacity and the potential of the FRCN sufficiently utilized in addressing strategic national interests?

Perception of broadcasting in Nigeria

To say that Nigerians love and cherish the broadcast media is an understatement. Repeated surveys and careful observations have proved that point. Similarly, the contributions of the sector and particularly the FRCN to different facets of our national life have been variously documented. However, careful observation of emerging trends in the industry is facilitating the formation of some perceptions that can be challenging to the Nigerian broadcast professionals and policy makers. And, this is critical because the credibility of messages that emanate from the broadcast media largely depend on their perception by the general audience.

  Currently, one can easily summarize the general perceptions into the following categories.

First, broadcast media stations particularly government owned are hardly objective in matters that involve their principals and their ruling political parties. In other words, there is a picture of a voluntary alliance between broadcasters and authorities that pertains to paternalistic relationship. Perhaps, the federal government owned stations are slightly better compared to all the state government owned stations. There is hardly any exception among the states. Many of the stations are tightly controlled and heavily subjected to the aprons of the individual governments, thus undermining professional independence and affecting their credibility. At any rate, the level at which people believe a particular station is correspondingly proportionate to their perception of its truthfulness, competence, relevance and independence especially on matters of politics

  Secondly, even though there is a huge increase in the number of radio stations and their owners in the country, however, one may not be wrong to suggest that there is also a decline of pluralism in content, diversity and even quality. Seriously researched documentaries, journalistic exposes, exciting drama, and such quality programmes have given way to hurriedly packaged phone in programmes and huge dosages of entertainment.

  Thirdly, foreign broadcast stations are seen as more reliable in providing credible information about events and personalities in the country. Such a perception can easily undermine the confidence of the audience in believing that the media can perform its duty of monitoring and reporting transparency in governance and administration.

Fourthly, the resource poor, the rural majority and the female gender are peripherally involved in broadcasting.  They are treated merely as receivers than partners in the entire process.

  Fifthly, the current commercialization of society has deeply eaten into the broadcast media thereby severely restricting access by the public and subverting the ideals of news, killing the spirit of investigative journalism, and devaluing the content of programmes and news on radio and television stations.  Additionally, the concept of commercialization has completely defeated the concept and essence of Public Broadcasting Services in national institution like the FRCN. The blanket implementation of the commercialization policy automatically disables majority of the people from any form of involvement in the airwaves.  The high charges demanded by the various stations for almost everything disqualifies many people and sectors from any kind of meaningful engagement with the media. As a result, the airwaves are exclusively appropriated by governments, their organizations, money bags, business groups and big social institutions.  They remain the only actors that have easy access to the expensive airwaves thus further widening the existing unequal balance of power relations in the society.  In fact, even editorial judgment is subordinated to economic determinants. 

  The usual defense of managers is that their stations are dangerously and grossly underfunded that they need to devise alternative sources of survival.  I agree with them.  In fact, the penury and poverty in some of the stations are glaringly reflected in the quality and quantity of their services and the intolerable conduct of some of their staff.  Today, we have broadcast outfits that ably qualify as epilepsy patients whose standard hours of daily operation/seizure are unknown.  They simply operate on the mercy of the PHCN or the availability of a gallon of diesel.  

  Finally, the collapse of shortwave broadcasting in the country is affecting the country’s security and strategic national and international interest; it is also promoting the culture of intolerance and hatred across the nation because of ignorance, spread of dangerous rumours, absence of correct information on ourselves and building of stereotypes across the nation. Even though government has deregulated broadcasting, the urban, elitist and commercial disposition of existing broadcasting stations leaves a large population of people unreached. Due to the prevalent use of FM transmission facilities in most of the states, the reach of each station is less than 100 kilometre radius. Even many Federal Government-owned radio stations that used to operate SW transmitters have now resorted to the FM mode, thus, limiting their reach to the federal and state capitals only, which excludes communities located beyond such radius.  The map below shows significant parts of Nigeria, particularly in the North that are not covered by broadcast signals originating from Nigerian FM radio stations. 

  In many parts of the North, most people, for most part of the day turn to the Hausa Services of foreign stations like the BBC, VOA, DW and RFI to satisfy their information needs, even on issues about their immediate communities in Nigeria. In the past, Radio Nigeria Kaduna filled in the gap but nowadays with the epileptic performance of the exhausted SW transmitter of the station, the people have been left with no option than to seek for alternative sources of news outside the Nigerian shores.  Currently, there is a huge gap for credible sources of local information that can facilitate development. Evidently, the gap provides a good opportunity for outside broadcast media outfits to mentally control our people and define the agenda in our communities.

  Those observations, contentious as they may sound, have implications on the ability of the broadcast media and particularly the FRCN to continue to meaningfully influence the minds of the people.

Consequences

The consequences of the above challenges are enormous for the system. Some of the effects are:

The general population has little confidence and trust in the credibility of the broadcast media system to act as watchdogs and platforms for the promotion of democratic values and developmental goals in their immediate communities.

People may continue to rely on international broadcast stations for crucial information that affect their lives and nation.  Thus, the external media may be determining the local and national agenda instead of the reverse. This could lead to serious consequences for the nation.

New forms of information disseminations techniques like the Internet and GSM are increasingly rendering non-reforming media outfits obsolete and non reliable, thus irrelevant particularly to the youth.

The potential strength and centrality of the broadcast media can be severely undermined by the visible absence of diversity, accessibility, courage and relevance especially for the stations that are not reforming as we cannot have analogue staff and managers operating digital equipment.

A large portion of the population and pockets of areas that are distant from the state capitals are completely uncovered by the local radio signals. This is risky to the strategic interest as well as the security and developmental agenda of the nation.  

Based on the above premises, one can then conclude that our broadcast media houses as our national assets have huge responsibilities in positively altering the emerging perceptions by involving all segments of the Nigerian society, based on the principles of inclusivity, diversity, transparency, autonomy and accountability in their desire to build a broad based national democratic process.

The way forward

Currently, Nigeria is engaged in some major battles that it must win. One, our democracy must succeed irrespective of whatever challenges the country is experiencing. Secondly, we must defeat terrorism, insurgencies and reduce to the minimum incidences of violent conflicts that explode in different part parts with devastating consequences. Equally, Nigeria must get its economy right and ensure the fulfilling of the Millennium Development Goals even after the target date of 2015.

  The media, in whatever form, are involved in the business of ideas; great ideas that can transform societies. Through the media’s collection, processing, management and dissemination of ideas and knowledge, they can create public awareness, increase knowledge, change attitudes, transform behaviour and foster engagement; some essential elements that influence and energize the society towards growth and development (McQuail, 2006). As Sachs (2008) explained, “Great social transformations…all begun with public awareness and engagement”. They should be able to set the people thinking and talking about issues with the hope of enhancing their participation in the development process for the region and nation to actualize the dream of being among the twenty most developed economies in the world. In all of these, the FRCN is strategically placed as a national asset to carry the people. Accordingly, it must respond to the challenge of reactivating its SW transmission services all over the country.

  A large number of people in the North and possibly the country still rely on the shortwave radio either because their state radio stations cannot reach them or because the big stations give them diverse, credible and better produced content. The alternative is to allow the stations to die and risk the minds of our people being colonized by external radio houses. I believe that there are many pressing problems beating down the nation, namely, corruption, abysmal poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, population explosion, ethnic and religious conflicts, poor healthcare facilities and absence of basic civic services, among others, that the SW stations can, as they have done in the past, help to creatively and effectively address. I passionately plead with the Federal Government to please respond to the challenges and give the FRCN stations a new lease of life. Let them experience a renewal as part of the transformation agenda.

This is also an opportunity to renew the call for the actualization of the community radio dream to fully complete the third tier of broadcasting as it is globally practiced. The African Charter on Broadcasting has recognized and advocated for a three tier radio regime in individual African countries: public/service; private/commercial; and community. Without doubt, the community radio can fill in the gap and effectively complement the existing broadcasting system in the provision of regular information about the immediate environment for the people. It can act as a voice as well as a bridge between the communities and the rest of the world.

  Finally, on this special occasion of the FRCN management retreat, let me pay tribute to its founding fathers, commend the doggedness of its leaders and appreciate the efforts of its staff and numerous artists and associates that have given it a unique identity and spirit of courage. The audiences too, must be acknowledged for keeping faith with the station. The Federal Government, its owner deserves our praises for being able to maintain the institution. One would only plead with the Government to continue in its effort and invest more in the corporation and indeed the broadcast sector to restore the full glory of the shortwave stations in Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu. 

Pate, is a professor in the Department of Mass Communication Bayero University, Kano

 

Nigeria conducts $600m transactions via mobile money in two years

29 Aug

e-commerce

Nigeria’s bourgeoning electronic commerce (e-Commerce) market is gaining much traction from both local and foreign investors..

Between 2012 and now, about $600 million transactions have been carried out through the mobile money platform in Nigeria.

    This figure, according to the Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson was attained  from 11 million transactions.

    Johnson, while making a presentation at the American Business Council in Lagos, noted that there are over 18 mobile money operators registered in Nigeria by the Central Bank of Nigeria since commencement of operations with over one million subscribers and about 67,000 registered agents across the country.

    She informed that whilst uptake has been initially slow, improving infrastructure, fine-tuning of legislation and increasing confidence in product by consumers will result in significant acceleration.

    The minister, who said Nigeria’s e-Commerce sub-sector is gaining much traction from both local and foreign investors and has subsequently created over 15, 000 jobs, informed that mobile money is currently mostly used to buy airtime. She however, said the initiative has the potential to serve as a platform for drawing more people into formal financial services.

    Statistically, she said 57.8 per cent of registered mobile money users use it to buy airtime; 49. 2 per cent used it to send money; 38.2 per cent used it to receive money; 30.5 per cent used it to pay bills while 5.3 per cent used it for other functions. 

    According to her, Nigeria’s bourgeoning electronic commerce (e-Commerce) market, whose worth was $35 million as at 2012 has grown to $550 million within the last two years.

Omo

Omobolaji Johnson says Nigeria’s e-Commerce creates 15,000 jobs and expects the market potential to reach $10 billion soonest

She said with a market potential expected to reach $10 billion soonest, the e-Commerce, which does 1000 orders per day two years ago, now do 15,000 with a projection of 300,000 orders soonest.

  Besides, Johnson, while commending the efforts of players including Konga; Jumia; DealDey; Wakanow; Gloo.ng; Quickteller; Buyology among others, said the e-Commerce sub-Sector has impacted positively on infrastructure expansion; warehousing; advertising and logistics.

  The minister, who informed that wholesale and retail trade sector accounted for 17 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013; making it the third largest contributor to GDP, said among the factors driving e-Commerce in Nigeria is the demographic characteristics of demand, saying that almost 40 million Nigerians are in consuming class households.

  She also said that the large population of urban, tech-savvy young people, which are supported by government funded initiatives; growing innovation / ideation ecosystem, which is fuelling a growing number of local ecommerce companies.

    Johnson also observed the Lagos advantage, stressing that the coastal “mega city”, has created a natural trade and commerce centre acting as springboard for consumers.

  The minister also said the option of buying from international markets available and the entry of international payment firms increasing access of consumers to international merchants.

  Quoting a report by Jana, “2013: Insights on the e-commerce preferences of African consumers in Nigeria, Kenya & South Africa”, the Nigerian minister of Communications Technology said delivery time, which accounted for 31.34 per cent of the respondent is seen as the major limitation hindering smooth e-Commerce operation.

    The challenge of delivery time, according to Johnson is followed by poor Internet connection; lack of security; lack of options with 28.36 per cent; 23.55 per cent; 6.30 per cent and 10.45 per cent respondents respectively. 

    Already, analysts are optimistic that the growth in online sales will not recede. This, they added, is because electronic commerce companies are increasingly channelling their energies and resources towards providing locally-relevant solutions to Nigerian customers.

According to telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko in a chat with The Guardian yesterday, the preceding year has seen e-commerce companies move away from merely cloning international brands, this has increased the confidence of investors in the sub-sector.

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