A two-day National Seminar on Building Community Radio in Nigeria was held in Lokoja, Kogi State, on Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29, 2013. The venue was Halims Hotels and Towers. The programme was designed to contribute to expanding the plurality and diversity of the media in Nigeria, and enhance capacities of local communities to use community radio as a platform for democratic discourse and development. It aimed at equipping participants with the know-how to promote and support Community Radio and to step down knowledge and skills to grassroots communities.
It was organised by the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC) in collaboration with the Institute for Media and Society (IMESO) with the support of the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), through its International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).
Participants in the seminar were representatives of grassroots communities preparing to establish community radio, civil society groups, media, academia, among others. It was also attended and addressed by representatives of the regulatory body, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
The seminar was declared open by the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Salihu Akawu.
The seminar also had presentations from experts, community radio advocates, academics, representatives of intending hosts of community radio stations and government agencies, in plenary and break-out sessions.
The participants expressed gratitude to UNESCO-IPDC for supporting the Seminar and NCRC with IMESO for organizing it in such a professional and productive manner.
At the end of the seminar, the participants agreed to adopt this Communiqué.
The participants observed as follows:
- Ten years of advocacy for developing community radio stations in Nigeria is yet to produce the establishment of any true community radio station. However, substantial progress has been made in areas of capacity building, awareness creation, and new phase of interactions with government and other relevant stakeholders.
- The readiness of communities to commence community radio broadcasting is evident in the fact that many communities have put in place facilities, while many others are in various preparatory stages, in anticipation of issuance of licences by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
- The delay in giving effect to the October 2010 pronouncement by President Goodluck Jonathan that the broadcast regulatory body, NBC, should start to issue community radio licences, continues to be a major source of concern to stakeholders.
- This delay in the issuance of community radio licenses has denied effective access to the media for large sections of the population of Nigeria, limited their right to freedom of expression and deprived the government of effectively taking its development agenda to the grassroots.
- It is heart-warming that several agencies of government are willing to explore the potentials of community radio as platform for reaching rural and grassroots communities with government policies and programmes.
- That the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and other regulatory instruments of the broadcasting sector, have continued to make positive and elaborate provisions for the development of community radio in the country.
The participants then recommended as follows:
- The NBC should:
- begin the licencing process of community radio by partnering with stakeholders to develop the licencing framework and making the document which emerges from the exercise widely available and accessible.
- in partnership with stakeholders, put in place a broader framework for monitoring community radio in view of the anticipated expansion which will follow the emergence of the sector.
- work with other relevant agencies and authorities within the Federal Government to address any outstanding concerns that may affect the issuance of community radio licences.
- Government agencies which wish to partner with grassroots communities should continue to liaise with other community radio stakeholders such as the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC) to generate an appropriate framework for partnership.
Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC) should:
- strengthen existing alliances and build new ones with the regulatory body, other Government agencies and other relevant stakeholders to achieve a successful advocacy for community radio in Nigeria.
- intensify and extend capacity building efforts to more grassroots communities across the country.
- explore the possibility of facilitating a programme of experience-sharing between Nigerian government officials and their counterparts in other West African countries which have well developed community radio systems and are using them for development purposes.
- in preparing the ground for licensing, stakeholders in the communities should ensure transparency, non-partisanship and independence.
- should put in place appropriate governance arrangements that will ensure that the communities truly own the radio stations that will be licensed.
- should step down community radio development knowledge and skills already acquired from capacity development activities, in an attempt to ensure that the entire community is fully mobilized.
International Development Agencies and Partners
- should lend their strong voices to the advocacy efforts by constantly raising the issue of licensing community radio stations whenever they engage the regulatory body, NBC and other relevant government agencies or authorities.
Adopted in Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria this 29th day of November 2013.