The Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri, has called on relevant stakeholders to step up advocacy for the issuance of Community Radio licensing. Mr. Omeri said the NOA believes in the potency of Community Radio in democratizing the media space and ensuring good governance saying that are therefore committed to this cause and would work tirelessly for its success.
The NOA Director made the call in his goodwill message at the Community Radio Briefing and Strategy Meeting, organised by the Democratic Governance for Development Project (DGD II), a project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC). It took place at Rockview Hotel in Abuja January 21 and 22, 2013.
Mr. Omeri also made a case for NOA Community Radio, saying “statutorily, NOA is mandated not only to enlighten the public on government policies, programmes and activities, but to also provide government with credible feedback on what the peoples’ reactions are towards such policies, programmes and activities”.
He said by virtue of its mandate, there is an inextricable relationship between NOA and the communities adding that both are in dire need a of community platform that is available and accessible to them at all times
Mr. Omeri noted that both the NOA and the communities have found a convergence point in Community Radio to promote robust citizens’ participation in governance. He pointed out that unless citizens understand government policies, programmes and activities, such policies and programmes stand the risk of failing for lack of citizens’ support.
The NOA boss said “By virtue of the feedback received, citizens, to a large extent, will also determine the content of Community Radio.” He stated that an “NOA Community Radio will also enhance effective population awareness and mobilisation for prompt and appropriate response in times of crises and mass disaster e.g floods and epidemics, etc.” He added that jobs will also be created for citizens as an added value.
He listed seven rationales for Community Radio as follows: breaks media monopoly and democratizes citizens’ access to information; gives voice to the voiceless (i.e. content, perspectives and development agenda are determined by citizens); it restores citizens’ integrity; and promotes transparency and accountability in governance.
The other rationales that he listed were that it is cost effective; it has immediacy of impact; and will create job opportunities for at least 5 people in each Local Government Area.
Mr. Omeri emphasized the key mandate areas and the structure of the NOA as its strength and which will enhance the agency’s ability to operate community radios
The key mandate areas of the agency that he listed were: communicating government policies, programmes and activities to the people through advocacy and public enlightenment; mobilising public support for government policies, programmes and activities; providing feedback to government on people’s reactions to government policies, programmes and activities; and promoting Nigeria’s core values and positive attitude through value reorientation programmes.
Mr. Omeri said the NOA is also saddled with the responsibility of establishing social institutions and framework for the deliberate exposure of Nigerians to democratic norms and values; and promoting a vibrant democratic culture and citizens’ responsibility through political and civic education
He said the NOA has a three-tier structure which aligns with the three tiers of government and will work in its favour and enable the NOA discharge its mandate to effectively operate community radio.
Mr. Omeri listed the structure to include its National Headquarters, State Directorates in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) headed by Directors; Local Government offices in the 774 Local Government Areas headed by Chief Orientation and Mobilisation Officers (COMOs) and Community Support Brigade and Citizens’ Responsibility Volunteers in each Ward of the Federation.
He also listed the Grassroots Platforms with which it reaches communities and these include theatre for development, community/village square dialogue sessions, town hall meetings, and public awareness boards. Others are bulk SMS, e-polling, fortnightly pulse of the nation reports, and special reports.
Mr. Omeri said the NOA is committed to this initiative because its founding principles and philosophy are in tandem with the mandate for which NOA was established.
The DGD II project is a joint donor-funded project managed by the UNDP in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria. The project is funded with contributions from the European Commission (EC), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the UNDP.