Again, the importance of community radio in spreading development across Nigeria has been stressed.
This was made known during a gathering, Alfred Opubor International Conference on Community media held at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Southwest Nigeria.
With the theme If Community Is The Answer, What Is The Question, the gathering lamented that about two years after the Federal Government, via a presidential pronouncement, gave order for licensing of community radio in Nigeria, nothing has been done to implement it.
Opened by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor I. F. Adewole, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Prof. I. A Olayinka, the event was held in honour of the late Alfred Esimatemi Opubor, the first Nigerian Professor of Mass Communication, to commemorate his 75th (Posthumous) birthday.
Prof. Cecil Blake of the University of Pittsburgh, USA, delivered the keynote address titled Trail Blazers, Legends and the Making of a Discipline: Alfred Opubor and Communication Studies in Africa.”
Presentations were also made on various areas of community media by scholars and practitioners, in plenary and syndicate sessions.
The event, organised by the Department of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan, African Languages Technology Initiative, Institute for Media and Society and the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition, with support from UNICEF, National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Bifocals Communications, was attended by eminent scholars. Such scholars in the field of communication studies, representatives of civil society groups, grassroots communities, the media, among others, were drawn from Nigeria, other African countries, Europe and the United States of America.
Contents of the presentations are thus:
“Community Radio and other community communication systems are key to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), especially the immense challenges of Child and Maternal Mortality and Climate Change Adaptation.
“Upcoming media scholars are not adequately equipped with contextual communication research methodologies that are needed for understanding community media issues.”
At the end of the conference, scholars and policymakers were urged to adopt strong African ethical principles on how to use communication to overcome underdevelopment in rural communities.
“Rural and other grassroots communities should continue their current efforts in establishment of community radio stations. In the process, they should pool human and material resources together as part of their strategies for good governance and sustainability of the upcoming radio stations.
“Communication research by the academia should be more rigorous as a way of helping to better understand the problems of effective communication with and within our rural and grassroots communities.
“Communication scholars should embark on a structured and sustained mentoring programme in contextual communication research methodologies so that upcoming scholars can effectively engage these methodologies and use them to achieve much better understanding of community communication needs.
The participants pleaded that the President’s directive on the issuance of Community Radio licenses is implemented without any further delay.
It was also resolved that existing mainstream media should develop and implement strategies for improved coverage of rural and grassroots communities.
“Stakeholders should ensure that the advocacy for Community radio and other community media take advantage of new technologies and ensure that there is appropriate capacity building in the various communities to fully exploit these new technologies.
“Adequate funding should be made available for research into community communication issues. In this connection, academic institutions, government agencies such as Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETF), Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PTDF); donor organizations and other development partners should make funding support accessible to community communication researchers in all parts of the country.”