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Stakeholders mobilise resources for sustainability of community radio

Communication Officer, Fadama Development Project, Alhaji Baba Shaaba (right); Member, Board of Trustees, Lavun Community radio, Alhaji Abubakar Dauda Kutigi; Mrs Franca Aiyetan of the NBC; Team leader of NCRC, Dr. Akin Akingbulu; and  Niger State Coordinator, Fadama Development Project, Alhaji Aliyu Usman Kutigi at the workshop in Minna

Communication Officer, Fadama Development Project, Alhaji Baba Shaaba (right); Member, Board of Trustees, Lavun Community radio, Alhaji Abubakar Dauda Kutigi; Mrs Franca Aiyetan of the NBC; Team leader of NCRC, Dr. Akin Akingbulu; and  Niger State Coordinator, Fadama Development Project, Alhaji Aliyu Usman Kutigi at the workshop in Minna

SINCE May 2015 when the Federal Government released broadcast licences for 17 communities across Nigeria to own radio stations in their localities, stakeholders have revved up strategies not only to ensure solid foundation for the emerging third tier of broadcasting, but also to foster sustained community radio platform in the country.
 
So far, three institutional partners have been up and doing in this regards. They are the Nigerian Community Radio Coalition (NCRC); the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); and the Democratic Governance for Development Project of the United Nations Development Programme (DGD-UNDP). While NCRC has continued to mobilize resources in the area of capacity building and hitch-free take-off of these new radio stations, the regulatory agency (NBC) is lubricating the process through community-friendly policy framework such as payment of N10,000 for Application Form and the sum of N100,000 as Licence Fee. With this policy, the NBC has indirectly distinguished campus radio (a total of 31 campus radio stations that exist across the country) from the community radio.
 
Before now, the argument was that campus radio was an example of community radio. But Licence Fee for campus radio is One Million Naira, while Application Form is procured with the payment of N50,000.   
 
The third partner, DGD-UNDP has not only distinguished itself as the strong supporter of campaign for the establishment of community radio in the country, it has facilitated logistics for the three major workshops organized  after the grant of licence last May. DGD is a joint donor-funded project managed by UNDP in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria with contribution from the European Union; the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the UNDP.
 
And latest in these groups’ efforts was the three-day workshop on Community Radio Institution-Building and Sustainability held in Kutigi and Minna, Niger State, Nigeria, from October 27 to 29, 2015.
 
The objectives were to build the capacity of the participants and contribute to actualizing an institutionally strong and sustainable community radio sector which appropriately functions as a tool of democracy and development in Nigeria.The event was organized by the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC) with the support of the Democratic Governance for Development Project of the United Nations Development Programme (DGD-UNDP). Local field support was also provided by the Fadama Development Project and the Lavun Community Radio Station.
 
Participants were drawn from all the zones of the country, from approved community radio stations, civil society organizations, academia, media, development agencies, the broadcasting sector regulator (National Broadcasting Commission) and other government institutions.
   
Activities of the first day of the workshop (October 27, 2015) took place in Lavun Community Radio station, Kutigi, while those of the other two days were held in Minna, the Niger state capital.
 
Workshop activities included a courtesy visit to His Highness, Alhaji Wanchin Hussain Kutigi, The Ezonuwan of Kutigi; facility tour of Lavun Community Radio Station, presentations, discussions, group work and others.
 
Incidentally, resolutions at the workshop were targeted at these institutional partners as participants urged the licensed community radio initiatives to ensure that their radio stations are established and operated in consonance with international good practices and standards by show-casing, for example, appropriate, transparent and accountable institutional structures, realistic business and sustainability plans, quality human resources as well as affordable, simple, environment-friendly buildings and equipment.
 
This is in addition to ensuring  effective community participation in their operations, while they were admonished to carry out periodic audience surveys and disseminate development-focused programmes as requested by the community audiences.
 
The Nigerian Community Radio Coalition (NCRC) is also urged to support the community radio stations with capacity-building of human and other resources; work with the community radio stations to develop and implement self-regulatory mechanisms such as a Code of Practice; develop and co-ordinate a multi-action Monitoring and Evaluation Framework which will involve such groups as the NBC and the community radio stations.
   
The National Broadcasting Commission is also asked to process and secure presidential approval for more batches of community radio licences. In doing so, it should give special attention to the North-East zone, the Niger Delta and communities at the nation’s international borders.
   
While urging the broadcast regulator to provide updated and adequate accommodation for community radio development in its on-going review of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, the International Development Partners are charged to provide structured and sustained support for the development of the community radio sector.
 
In their discussion, participants had earlier observed that:
Following government’s approval of community radio licences earlier in the year, affected communities have embarked on establishment processes of their radio stations in the various locations.
 
The take-off of broadcasting activities in Lavun Community Radio is a positive development, as it has inspired others who are at various levels of establishment and readiness for take-off of broadcasting operations.
 
The structures of the emerging community radio stations vary from one location to another, due to local conditions.
 
The need and strategy for establishing appropriate institutional and sustainability structures are key concerns of the various radio stations.

Capacity building activities are important for the development of the community radio sector right from this early stage. The ones already organized have been very targeted and useful but more will be required by the sector.
 
The interactions between the NCRC and the regulator, NBC, have yielded good results for the take-off processes of the community radios. Increase in the pace of the delivery of the positive outcomes will be appreciated by the community radio operators.
 
There has been an upsurge in expressed interest by community groups across the country to acquire licences and run community radio stations.



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