A two-day Roundtable on Building Community Radio in Nigeria jointly organized by the Institute for Media and Society (IMS) and Panos Institute West Africa (PIWA) was held at the Excellence Hotel and Conference Centre, Ogba, Lagos from 16 th to 17 th December 2005. It was within the framework of the series of activities under the Initiative on Building Community Radio in Nigeria.
The participants in the programme were editors and managers from print and broadcast media organizations in Nigeria. Presentations and discussions at the programme focused on the challenges of and media advocacy strategies a for sustainable community radio broadcasting sector in Nigeria.
At the end of the programme, participants adopted this communiqué.
RECALLING that various international initiatives and instruments such as the African Charter on Popular Participation, the African Charter on Broadcasting, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the ECOWAS Treaty, the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), and the Millennium Development Goals MDGS), have emphasized the empowerment of all sections of society;
CONSIDERING that Nigeria has played central roles in the making of these international initiatives and have gone further in putting in place home- grown initiatives such as the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS);
NOTING that the government has, in recognition of the role of the media in meeting the targets of development goals, taken the following steps in the recent past:
initiating the review of the National Mass Communication Policy through setting up a Working Group in year 2004;
sponsoring executive bill on amendment of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act in the National Assembly in years 2001-2003
announcing the imperative use of community radio in the activities of the education sector during the Association for the Development of Education in Africa and Sub-Regional Conference of Education Ministers in August 2004;
promising in early 2005 to put in place a community radio policy structure.
REALIZING that Nigeria remains the only country in West Africa that has not opened doors to community radio broadcasting.
We, the participants in the Editors Roundtable make the following resolutions:
To the Federal Government
All policy, legislative and regulating reforms in the media/information sector should be within the framework of the African Charter on Broadcasting.
The reviewed National Mass Communication Policy should be released without further delay.
The review/amendment process on the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act and other legislations such as the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Act and News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Act, which was earlier pursued in the National Assembly should be resumed as a matter of urgency. The review of the NBC Act and other legislations should include provisions which would give the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) full regulatory powers over the broadcast sector, including final approval authority to issue broadcasting licences.
As a complement to the National Mass Communication Policy, a specific policy framework for development of community radio should be put in place. In this connection, the promise by the immediate past Information Minister that government would put in place a CR policy delivery structure/mechanism should be given effect.
The Senate should pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill before it while Mr. President should give assent.
As a crucial component of the development o a blueprint for the education sector recently mandated by the Federal Executive Council, a comprehensive and integrated policy on the use of community radio in education should be developed by the ministry.
To National Broadcasting Commission (NBC):
The NBC should provide comprehensive guidelines for community radio operations to enable the numerous grassroots communities who have been waiting, to submit applications and establish their stations.
The upcoming review of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code recently announced by the NBC should be done comprehensively within the framework of the African Charter on Broadcasting. This will entail among other things, thorough conceptual definition of community radio (and community broadcasting in general) and appropriate provision for its licencing and operation in Nigeria.
The commission should begin to licence community stations without further delay. In the process, application forms should be free while licencing fees should also be waived or at worst nominal. The duration for the processing of applications and issuance of licences should not exceed three months.
To the Media:
The media should assume its rightful position as a major stakeholder in and driver of the community radio development process by providing the appropriate information and education to all sections of the Nigerian society on the benefits of CR and the present challenges confronting its emergence in Nigeria.
The media should also intensify the campaign to see the FOI Bill through its final stage of passage in the Senate and assent by Mr. President.
To All CR Stakeholders:
The Community Radio sub-sector should be opened through the establishment of pilot stations in the different geo-political zones of the country.
Issued in Lagos, Nigeria, this 17 th day of December 2005.