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VON may diversify operations soon, says DG

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Jijiwa

Abubakar Jijiwa

THERE are indications that the Voice of Nigeria (VON) may soon go into television broadcast to be in tune with other international organizations that have similar mandate.

The Director General of the organisation, Abubakar Jijiwa, who disclosed this recently in an interview with The Guardian in Abuja, explained that many external broadcasters in the world such as the BBC, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Radio China and the Radio France International among others have in addition to radio moved to television and that VON should not be left behind.

He added: “We must have a Voice of Nigeria Television that will give international essence in television terms to the mandate of VON. My expectations are that a lot of groundwork, articulation and planning have been done, what is now needed is to simply get the funds to start the VON TV.”

He stated that the major challenge he faced in VON was the organization’s dependence on only government budget and the dwindling budgetary allocation in the midst of rising cost of operation.

“Because VON is not allowed to carry advertisement, we solely depend on government budget. We get extra funding from international and donor agencies but they come in kind. The major challenge is to make sure that the budget is good.

In the last two years the budget has been dwindling against the rising cost of infrastructure, increased number of staff and general operation and if it is not addressed it will affect the agency negatively.

“We are like the broadcast arm of the nation’s diplomacy and the business of diplomacy requires huge funds. Other countries are coming up with bigger budgets on external publicity and Nigeria must not be left behind.

Nigeria started external broadcasting in 1961 and must not be left behind,” he said.  While calling for increased allocation to VON to enable the organisation carry out its mandate effectively, Jijiwa said: “South Africa is investing huge money on Channel Africa which is the external arm of SABC.

Iran and China are reaching Nigerians in Nigerians in Nigerian languages and this is a source of concern in terms of security, therefore we shouldn’t think we are spending too much on external broadcasting because they have security implications.

We must counter religious extremism and terrorism using the external broadcasting by spreading the massages of peace, tolerance and brotherhood”.

The VON boss noted that his tenure as the DG of VON was very productive added: “I hope I have been able to add value to the corporation, I do hope that the staff also appreciate the relationships we have built in VON, we are one united family, even when things are not going the way they should, we try to be our brothers keeper and worked in harmony.”

He highlighted that his achievements go well beyond infrastructural development in the Voice of Nigeria, saying achieving workplace harmony brotherhood and the camaraderie that he is leaving behind give him a sense of accomplishment.

“I have built the biggest Radio station on the continent of Africa at Lugbe, Abuja, those towers you see at airport road are iconic, they are something that gives me joy whenever I am going or coming back from the airport because they are the best we have on the continent of Africa and the 7th largest in the world so we have bequeath to Nigeria one of the best and biggest radio television station,” he stressed.

Continuing he said: “We have modernized our infrastructure and had built Nine digital studios, Five in Lagos and four in Abuja and they are all digitally compliant, we have one of the best and biggest commercial recording studios in Lagos with a complete supporting editing studio which can take up to 40 musicians that can come and do recording and post editing. Advert agencies can also do post editing there.

“Even the Nollywood industry does use the studio to post edit their films to align the audio with the video. We have started the process of building the Voice of Nigeria Broadcasting House that would house all the offices, the studio, workforce and engineering infrastructure of the organization. We have done the preliminary survey and auxiliary service on the land, the only thing that is remaining is to do the main block of the permanent broadcasting house.”

On his part, the chairman of the board, Andy Aghaji extolled the sterling qualities of Jijiwa and his numerous achievements and wished him success in his future endeavours.  Also speaking, a member of the board, Barr Dom Onyechi commended Jijiwa for repositioning VON for efficient and effective service delivery.


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