For ages, Northern Nigeria, fondly called Arewa, has been a watershed for precipitating sinister agendas, from backwardness, poverty and illiteracy to all sort of filth in the underdevelopment indices. Unfortunately, the region is acutely lacking in a unified front for counteracting these sinister narratives against the region.
While southerners are busy investing in serious media businesses; we are investing in local radio stations. For instance in Kano, we have more than 10 private radio stations; all of which are entangled in an unhealthy competition that is killing the radio business in the state. So, since we have ‘enough’ radio stations, there is a need for us to start investing in television and online newspaper businesses that could rival the likes of Channels, TVC, AIT and Arise.
Tell me any TV station in the North that can compete favourably with the aforementioned stations? While Arewa24 is priding itself as a Northern TV station, I make bold to say that it does not have contents and a deliberate programming pattern that is out to set any serious agenda or roll back a negative narrative in the region.
Granted that Arewa24 is a big pro-North platform in terms of reach, but in terms of agenda-setting, the TV station lacks serious programs that focus on national, regional or even professional issues that are obtainable in many serious TV stations across the country. What we only have in Arewa24 are programs like the Labarina series, Kwana Casain and Dadin Kowa which are all social commentaries and satires. What values are these programs adding to us as a people? Nothing!
Sadly, even our own Liberty TV that started operation long before Channels TV, TVC and Arise is not doing well in the market, maybe because of poor patronage from our people. Not Liberty TV alone, we have the DITV/Alheri Radio, Kaduna but all are not being patronised by us and this led to poor operations of the stations. We have a long way to go in the business.
Media is now used as a tool for and of social development. Take the case of #EndSARS protests and how it got international attention and sympathy within the blink of an eye. Remember how in no time the agitation forced the Federal Government to disband the brutal police unit, courtesy of social media.
Nigerians, especially those from the South can use social media to cause social change. While, sadly, here in the North our elites only come alive during elections, sponsoring thugs to cause mayhem against their opponent. I believe that if banditry and kidnapping were to be in the South, their leaders would have been louder than what currently obtains in the North. They know how to set agenda.
This is why I faulted Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso for establishing a Radio Station in Kano. This is an utter duplication of investment that may surely go down the drain. The North does not need this. Philanthropists and business moguls of this region need to invest in the media for the interest of promoting and protecting the interest of Northern Nigeria. Have the Dangote’s and BUA’s been patronising our media businesses? The answer is bold NO!
When it comes to newspaper business; we only have Daily Trust. I think it is the only surviving nationalistic paper that is owned by Northerners. The rest are either comatose or virtually dead.
It is also instructive to note that in this digital media era, the South has also beaten us to the punch. They have the likes of SaharaReporters, PremiumTimes, TheCable, etc. that are making serious impact to national discourse and development journalism. We have only two serious and fast-rising online newspapers: DailyNigerian and PRNigeria that are practically changing the journalism landscape in Northern Nigeria, while the rest are just after the quarterly retainer-ship given to them by corporate organizations and government agencies.
By and large, I think it is high time we started investing in the media business seriously in the interest of the region. Nobody will do it for us. Our population is a big market, let us explore it and make a difference – set our agenda, correct the sinister narrative and even advance some healthy cause for the good of the region and the country as a whole.
Mr Tudunwada, a journalist and University lecturer, can be reached via [email protected]