Voice of Nigeria re-positions for change

Samuel Okocha, Lagos

The acting Director General of VON, Mr. Ahazia Suleiman addressing participants at the event.

Voice of Nigeria has an increasing role to play as Africa’s most populous country.

This was the view of participants who spoke at the one day Grand Media Summit organised by the agency’s chapter of the Radio, Television, Theatre and Arts Workers Union of Nigeria, RATTAWU.

Mr. Ben Egbuna, the former Executive Director of News at VON and former Director-General of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, said current events in the country make the work of VON increasingly important, but also challenging.

Former Executive Director of News at VON and former Director-General of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Mr. Ben Egbuna

In his words: “Every international station is set up with a purpose. If you look at the law setting Voice of Nigeria, it is ‘tell the world about Nigeria.’ But Voice of Nigeria has a difficult job because the image at home is serious and you must report truthfully what is happening. It’s a difficult job but it can be done.”

As Nigeria works to complete the victory over the boko haram insurgency that left many dead, mainly in north east Nigeria, development experts believe Voice of Nigeria must fill the gap of providing information that will help sustain the gains made so far.

According to the UNDP Focal Person in Nigeria’s North East, Mai Abba Modu, Voice of Nigeria is uniquely positioned to bridge the communication and knowledge gap within the regions affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

UNDP Focal Person in Nigeria's North East, Mai Abba Modu at RATTAWU Grand Media Summit.
UNDP Focal Person in Nigeria’s North East, Mai Abba Modu at RATTAWU Grand Media Summit.

He said: “Some of the IDPs are in Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Central Africa. Insurgents came and most of them ran away, crossing borders. So automatically they don’t know the situation in the country. So since Voice of Nigeria’s catchment area covers these regions, Africa and the world, critical information can help to unite families.

A child may be lost and the father may be in Nigeria while the mother may be in Chad or Cameroon. So lost families can be traced through Voice of Nigeria”

The acting Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Ahaziah Suleiman, informed participants that the station was working to assist the government in sustaining gains from the fight against the insurgency.

In his words: We introduced a programme called Beyond Bullets: The Road to Peace. The programme is very popular and it’s been broadcast in three Voice of Nigeria’s languages of English, Hausa and French. The programme also runs on FM stations in Maiduguri and Abuja. So we are playing our part in helping to de-radicalize repentant insurgents and contribute to efforts at rebuilding the north east.

The summit on ‘Media, Insurgency and The Economy: The role of Voice of Nigeria in Building and Sustaining Nigeria’s Image”, brought together resource people from various fields, including media, advocacy and development.