Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: FG Sets Up 800 Community Radio Stations

Abuja — ABOUT 800 Community Radio Stations will soon commence transmissions in various parts of the country to ensure that information on programmes and policies of the Federal Government get to the rural communities.

Director General of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Mr. Mike Omeri, who disclosed this yesterday during briefing and strategy meeting organised by the Democratic Governance for Development Project, in collaboration with the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition, said the community radio stations would start transmission before the second quarter of this year.

Omeri said setting up community radio stations was the result of agitations by people in rural communities in different parts of the country.

He said the stations would use the language of the people of the area, adding that they would create over 12,000 jobs when they begin transmission.

He also said that establishing the community radio stations became necessary to promote a vibrant culture and for the agency to discharge its mandate adequately, adding that it would break media monopoly in information dissemination.

According to him, the stations will serve geographic or territorial communities with various interests and restore the citizens' integrity, promotes transparency, accountability and cost effectiveness, stressing that unless the citizens understood policies and programmes of government, such policies stood the risk of failure.

The NOA DG said President Goodluck Jonathan was committed to the issuance of licenses for community radio stations and that he was optimistic the license would be granted within the second quarter of the year.

Omeri, who said that within five months in office, he established FM radio station that transmits within the secretariat assured that the agency in setting up the community radio stations would not go against the code of ethics and guidelines to be presented by the National Broadcasting Corporation, NBC.

In his remarks at the workshop, the Minister of Information and Communication, Mr. Labaran Maku represented by the Director, Research and Policy, Mr. Joseph Obodeze said it was unacceptable to the present administration that in some parts of the North, they do not get radio stations from the country instead stations in Cameroon.

The minister said that he was in support of the workshop and that it is imperative that community radio should spring up pointing out that radio had remained a powerful tool in disseminating information to the people.

Earlier in his address, the Director General of Democratic Governance for Development, DGD, Project, Dr. Mourtadada Deme said that DGD 11 project and its international partners, the European union, the UK's Department for International Development, the Canada International Development Agency and the United nations Development programme were proud to support the renewed advocacy for the operationalization of community radio in the country.

Deme said, "As Nigeria progresses in its democratic development, community radio will foster community dialogue, strengthen the integrity of the electoral process, contribute to transparency and accountability of governance institutions at the grassroots and facilitates citizens participation in governance."

He regretted that after over two years the federal government announced that license was going to be issued to community radio stations in the country which had raised a lot of expectations, the promise was yet to be actualized.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in October 19, 2010, made a pronouncement that government had considered and approved the guideline for the setting up of community radio, but nothing had been done since then and there was accusing fingers at the National Broadcasting Commission of frustrating the efforts, although it was gathered that the government had not given any directives to NBC.

There were opinions expressed at the workshop that even though the president had made the pronouncement, he did not mean what he said.

Executive Director, Institute for Media and Society, Mr. Akin Akingbulu said that a lot of advocacy had been carried out to the presidency and the national assembly, stressing that the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua affected the issuance of the license as he had welcomed the idea.

Mrs. Toyin Gabriel, Media expert with the DGD Project advised members of the coalition to be flexible and more open in their advocacy towards ensuring that people were carried along.

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