The Federal Government has pledged its commitment to expand the community radio as a tool to strengthen the nation’s democracy.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, in a statement issued on Tuesday in commemoration of World Radio Day.
World Radio Day is celebrated annually every February 13.
The theme for this year’s celebration titled, ‘Radio: A century informing, entertaining and educating,’ “reflects the remarkable achievement of radio as a means of communication and information for over 100 years, despite the advent of social media,” Idris stated.
The minister noted that radio plays a “vital role in shaping public opinion and promoting cultural unity in our diverse nation,” adding that it also provides a “platform for people of all backgrounds to speak out, be represented, and be heard, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation.”
Idris stated that owing to the radio’s wide-reaching information dissemination, “the government has initiated necessary reforms in the process of establishing community radio stations.”
While Nigeria has 89 licensed community radio stations, the minister stressed that the President Bola Tinubu-led administration is ready to provide a more conducive environment for other radio stations to emerge, and at the same time, strengthen the already-established ones.
The statement read, “Today, I join the global radio audience to celebrate the 2024 World Radio Day as proclaimed and adopted as an International Day by member states of UNESCO.
“The theme for 2024 is ‘Radio: A Century of Informing, Entertaining and Educating.’ This theme reflects the remarkable achievement of radio as a means of communication and information for over 100 years, despite the advent of social media. It also highlights the promise of a dynamic future for radio as a platform that has stood the test of time.”
Idris stated that the radio has been an “essential medium of communication in Nigeria since 1933. Its unique ability to reach a wide audience makes it an ideal tool for disseminating government plans and programs to all levels of society, including the grassroots.
“Radio has played a vital role in shaping public opinion and promoting cultural unity in our diverse nation. It provides a platform for people of all backgrounds to speak out, be represented, and be heard, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation. In recent times, radio has also become a valuable means of conflict resolution and a source of hope for the oppressed.”
The minister noted that the “government recognises the diversity of the Nigerian population and acknowledges the power of radio to reach people in their local languages. To make community radio more reliable, efficient, and affordable, the government has initiated necessary reforms in the process of establishing community radio stations.
“Currently, only 89 such stations have been granted broadcast licenses in Nigeria. However, the government intends to change this trend by providing a more favourable environment for other radio stations to emerge and for the existing ones to strengthen their capacity and thrive.”
Idris called for investments in community radio stations, adding that “such an investment will undoubtedly strengthen democracy, promote social cohesion, and provide those living in rural areas with access to credible information, in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.”
Idris added that the FG “will collaborate with UNESCO to drive these reforms and develop the required capacity in the sector to strengthen radio’s ability to disseminate credible and reliable information to the people.
“As Nigeria celebrates with the rest of the world, I urge all radio stations, whether traditional or online, to be more responsible in their operations by adhering to the principles and ethics of broadcasting.
“Editorial functions, such as fact-checking, objectivity, and balance, must be ensured before news is released. We must uphold the credibility and trust associated with radio, which most Nigerians value highly.”
“Finally, I congratulate radio listeners and urge them to use radio to learn, grow, and make their voices heard. I congratulate UNESCO for reminding us of the value radio adds to our lives. Happy World Radio Day!,” the minister concluded.