Expanding the frontiers of broadcast industry in Plateau State
Plateau State has over 50 different ethnic languages among the nationalitie in the state. In essence, very few people have the linguistic competence to navigate through this language maze. To bridge the language barrier, they have since settled for a lingua franca, Hausa language, which is common to all.
One radio station that is helping to cement this oneness in Hausa language is Unity FM 93.3, located on Bauchi Road, Jos, which has as its slogan ‘The Voice of Reason,’ and is reputed for giving Hausa version of the news in the state.
However, this does not mean that the station has no English programmes, as it is serving the diverse grassroots’ population very well. It brings various government policies to the people and this explains why the station is dear to their hearts. The station enjoys wide listening audience as well as advertisement flow.
Former Minister of State for Information and Chairman of Unity FM, Alhaji Ibrahim Nakande, spoke to The Guardian on how and why he founded the broadcast outfit.
Nakande went down memory lane, when he said, “I bought forms to set up the radio station as far back as 1997. But it never saw the light of day until 2010, when the Federal Government approved our license to set up the radio station. And we actually started full operations in 2012.”
On what informed his setting up the station, he said for a very long time, he had wanted to set up a media outfit because he represented some organisations and had passion for communication bodies that worked with the defunct NITEL.
“When the station got the license to go ahead, part of the challenge I had in mind was whether we should set it up elsewhere or in a more cosmopolitan area like Kaduna, Abuja or Kano. But given the crises that engulfed Plateau State for a long period of time, I decided the station should come to Jos,” he stressed.
Nakande stated that its guiding philosophy is to promote the cause of peace in Plateau and Nigeria, adding, “We succeeded in doing that by also ensuring that in starting the station, we should ensure inclusion. That is to say that we are going to employ people irrespective of their religious or ethnic background, hence the name, Unity FM.
“We also ensure that other tribes within Plateau State are also carried along, especially in our areas of programmes. That is why we have a community broadcasting that broadcasts every week the seven selected languages in Plateau State across the various zones. You have to understand that Plateau has 53 different ethnic groups but we choose some, given the dimensions of resources of the senatorial zones so that we can carry everybody along in our continued search for peace on the Plateau.”
He also talked about the many challenges the station is facing due to low economic base of the state. Nakande lamented lack of patronage from the banks, adding that the state government was not supporting the radio station as it is expected of it.
On the future of the station, he said that they would set up more radio stations as far as their finances improved and to also set up their own television station, given the sensitisation programming of the radio station.
According to Nakande, “The trend now is that most radio stations are also having their television arm so that we have a complete cycle of the broadcast sector in the Nigerian economy. That is our hope for the future”