An avid radio listener once called in on a live radio show and accused the on-air personalities (OAPs) of adding to his depression. The OAPs were taken aback and immediately asked him to explain. He went on to complain the country has too many corruption problems, and these stations kept him updated of the problems, thus adding to his depression. Magic 102.9 FM, Aba show presenter, Bernard Chibueze Nwatu confessed to having found himself in a similar situation which led him to conclude that issues surrounding corruption and governance were as sensitive as they were hopeless and should be avoided on radio, a view many OAPs share.
Yiaga Africa successfully tackled this problem by engaging different radio show presenters from all over the country in a series of Knowledge Management and Learning sessions in a Retreat held virtually over a couple of months, under the Bounce Corruption campaign supported by the MacArthur Foundation. These sessions were focused on building the capacity of Yiaga Africa’s cohort of radio ambassadors in engaging members of the general public, especially youths in the fight against corruption and impunity in Nigeria through use of the right messaging and broadcast techniques on their radio shows.
The OAPs engaged in this project were commissioned as Radio Ambassadors and given several capacity building exercises on the general importance and techniques of using radio to fight corruption. These learning and capacity building sessions which were held between June and August 2021, gave more insight on the power radio presenters hold in swaying general opinions and how instrumental they can be in influencing behavioural change patterns.
The first day of the Retreat had sessions facilitated by Chioma Agwuegbo, Executive Director of TechHer NG and Bala Thomas Mabiri, from Equal Access International on “Radio Broadcasting, Social Media and Accountability” and “Strengthening Media Support for Community Accountability” respectively, while Buchi Onyegbule, Writer, Broadcast Journalist and Head of Africa Ops, Narrative 4 Inc. and Affi Bassey, Radio Presenter and Producer, built the capacity of the Radio Ambassadors on “The Power of Radio in Fighting Corruption” and “Using Radio to Build Public Support for Anti-Corruption Efforts”. The concluding session was facilitated by Seun Durojiaye, Solutions Journalism Network Africa fellow and founder of Social Voices and Usman Shamaki, Blogger and Researcher at TransparencIT on “Reporting on What’s Wrong and Reporting on How to Fix it?” A Solutions Journalism Approach and “Using Citizen Engagement to Promote Accountability and Transparency ” respectively.
The sessions were instrumental in helping the Ambassadors not only understand how to build relevant content around fighting corruption in radio programmes, but also to infuse these issues in their day to day presentation. The idea of mainstreaming citizens especially youths in the fight against corruption and impunity in Nigeria would not be achieved without active and continuous mobilisation for open and accountable governance.
Radio Ambassadors Peter Chenan Koti in Adamawa State, Benard Chibueze Nwatu in Abia State and Babatunde Okunola in Kwara State found the conversation on Solutions Journalism which propounds the proferring of solutions to the problems being aired, the most engaging of all the sessions. They each noted that this particular panel session has informed their recent broadcasting styles especially on issues of corruption. Bernard Nwatu, who had previously expressed hopelessness on these issues, explained that he has learned to get possible solutions or invite solution bringers before even turning on his microphone to tackle a problem topic.
‘Radio is still the preferred news medium for a large percentage of Nigerians, and this is why Yiaga Africa continues to engage her cohort of Radio Ambassadors and equip them with the needed knowledge to continually push for citizens’ demand for accountability,’ according to Buchi Onyegbule.
Some of these Ambassadors went a step further to participate in and win the Bounce Corruption Innovative Radio Campaign competition which mobilized them with funds to run direct, anti corruption-based, creative radio programmes.
Some Ambassadors including Bernard Nwatu of Magic 102.9 FM Abia State, Peter Koti of FM Gotel 91.1 Adamawa State, Titus Usman of Raypower Gombe State, Mohammed Ibrahim of Radio Nigeria Katsina State, Babatunde Okunola of Royal 95.1 FM Kwara State, Aisha Badeggi of Badeggi 90.1 FM Niger State, Fasoro Michael of OSBC Osun State, Olutayo Ogunade of Impact Business Radio Oyo State, Dangana Joachim of Unity 90.6 FM Taraba State and Balarabe Idris of Pride FM Zamfara State, successfully kicked off their agreed radio shows from September 2021 and have continued to use their medium to effect the change they hope to see.