Groups Call on NBC to Issue Community Radio Licenses

Civil society groups, community-based organizations, and members of grassroots communities have called on the broadcast regulatory body, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to urgently initiate the issuance of community radio licenses to communities in Nigeria.

Akin Akingbolu, Executive Director Institute for Media and Society

The call was made at a two-day workshop held in Enugu by the Institute for Media and Society (IMESO) in collaboration with the Nigeria Community Radio Coalition (NCRC). It was supported by the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The workshop, which held on October 18 and 19, 2013 , focused on identifying and promoting Community Radio as a tool to deepen Democratic Governance.

Participants observed that community radio should be part of the process of deepening democracy and development in Nigeria as it does all over the world and that it has immense potentials for helping the various agenda of government, such as the various peace building and other initiatives in the Niger Delta and the South East.

They also noted that, communities in the South-East and South-South zones in Nigeria are in dire need of effective grassroots communication facilities. They stated that the process of granting radio licenses for grassroots communities has dragged for too long, despite the directive by the President in 2010 that the licensing should start immediately.

In view of the above observations, participants recommended that not only should issuance of community radio licenses commence, but that federal government agencies whose mandate is for community and rural development should partner with grassroots communities and civil society groups for communication skills building towards the success of the electoral process in Nigeria.

Emeka Mba, Director General National Broadcasting Commission

Participants urged communities intending to establish community radio stations to intensify their efforts and ensure that appropriate steps are followed in the process, to enable the emergence of viable community radio stations.

Participants proposed that international development agencies should not relent in their efforts to support communities in the area of capacity building targeted at the development of community radio and also promote advocacy for community radio licensing in Nigeria.

IMESO is an independent, non-governmental organization established to help build and improve the communication capacity and environment of the media, civil society and governance institutions to facilitate popular participation in democracy and development in Nigeria.

IMESO Launches Online Forum for Open Learning

The Lagos-based Institute for Media and Society, (IMESO), is holding a four-week online forum for open learning from October 21 to November 15, 2013.  The forum is designed as a pre-conference activity in the build up to the Pan Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning, an international event which will run in Abuja, Nigeria from December 2 to 6, 2013.

Akin Akingbolu, Executive Director Institute for Media and Society

“The objective of the online forum is to enrich the capacity of community/campus radio sector as well as Open and Distance Learning (ODL) practitioners,” said the organisers. They added that: “The forum will focus on discussing the innovations and potentials that new media offer in the development of open and distance learning in Nigeria and other countries.”

IMESO said that, in recent times, campus radio operators in Nigeria are exploring innovations of new media to support ODL in their various campuses. It added that regardless of challenges, operators have made some progress in using new media resources to engage ODL activities. IMESO said: “While still awaiting the issuance of licences, grassroots community radio initiatives are also exploring the new media space for dissemination of audio contents.”

The upcoming online forum will bring together communities/campus radio practitioners, civil society groups, academia and others to share experiences and generate ideas on improved mechanism which grassroots/community-focused communicators could deploy using new media for community learning and development. Participants will be drawn from Nigeria and other countries including those from the Commonwealth.

The discussion took place on various online platforms, including IMESO’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ImesoNigeria, on Twitter using hash tag #NCR4ODL, and IMESO’s Twitter handle @imesoimeso, as well as on Google+ with label #NCR4ODL.

Oxford-Princeton Announce Global Leaders Fellowship

The University of Oxford and Princeton University have jointly announced the call for applications to its Global Leaders Fellowship Programme. The program is a two year fellowship which involves working on global governance and the role of developing and emerging countries in the world political economy.

The Fellowship which will start in September 2014, will have successful Fellows spending one year at Oxford, based at the Global Economic Governance Programme and the Centre for International Studies, and one year at Princeton, based in the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Appropriate stipends sufficient to cover full living expenses will be provided successful Fellows.

Interested applicants must be from non-OECD countries and  must have completed (or have evidence of imminent completion of) a doctorate in a relevant field. They must also show evidence of outstanding analytical and research skills .They must be ready to demonstrate their plans for a clearly articulated research project which is relevant to the program’s aims.

The objective of the program is to contribute to the training of a network of scholar-practitioners who will help device innovative strategies to enhance the value of global institutions to the people of developing countries.

The deadline for the application is November 18, 2013. Click here for more information. 

MRA, PPDC Train Journalists on Contract Monitoring

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos in collaboration with the Abuja-based Public and Private Development Center (PPDC) organized a workshop last month to train journalists on contract monitoring and the importance of proper reporting on procurement processes.

The  intensive two-day  programme was held at Amador Suites in Ajah, in the outskirts of Lagos on October 4 and 5, 2013.

            Edetaen Ojo (MRA), Seember Nyager (PPDC) and Engr Dayo Olugboye (NSE)

The workshop was held under the auspices of the Nigerian Contract Monitoring Coalition, a division of the West African Contract Monitoring Coalition which is being regionally coordinated by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Commission (GACC) and funded under the World Bank Institutional Development Fund (WB-IDF).

The Nigerian coalition is implementing a project titled “Multi-stakeholder Engagement for Effective Public Procurement Process in Nigeria” under which it is currently monitoring procurement processes in the power sector and has specifically focused its monitoring exercise on selected power projects being executed in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja.

The National Convenor of the Coalition is the PPDC, while other members of the coalition include the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Media Rights Agenda, the Centre for Organizational and Professional Ethics (COPE-AFRICA) and the Initiative for Environmental and Health Society (IEHS).

The objective of the workshop was to familiarize participants with available tools for monitoring and reporting on procurement activities as well as discuss suggestions for improvements in the procurement system and practice in Nigeria at the federal level.

The workshop set out to establish the crucial role the the media can play in ensuring effective public procurement activities and encouraged participants to collaborate in carrying out monitoring exercises and to get involved in the actual procurement process.

Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, MRA in his welcome address, said: “Nigeria loses huge amounts of money through improper contracting processes. Besides saving money, monitoring exercises help to ensure that citizens get value for contracts awarded which were funded by public funds.”

He explained the role of the Nigerian Contract Monitoring Coalition and its active engagement in the procurement monitoring processes, emphasizing the need for more individuals, organisations and professional bodies to be involved.

Seember Ngayer, the Chief Executive Officer of the PPDC, also explained that  “the coalition has streamlined monitoring procurement process to specific sectors which is done in phases as sectors differ.”

She cited two  examples in which PPDC has engaged in procurement monitoring in the energy sector, using the Public Procurement Act to request information on procurement plan.

Another presenter at the workshop, Engr. Dayo Olugboye, of Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE), said:  “there is the need for professional bodies to be involved in advocacy especially in public procurement.” He shared NSE’s experience in monitoring procurement process in collaboration with PPDC and as an active member of the coalition.

Ojo stressed that all hands must be on deck to ensure an effective monitoring exercise in the energy sector and procurement processes in general.

Participants, who were mainly journalists from the energy sector, pointed out challenges they face in trying to monitor procurement processes, particularly in the energy sector and observed that there was a lack of clarity in the functions to be performed by some of the actors in the process.

Although the workshop was focused on the energy sector, monitoring procurement process in other sector was considered equally important and the coalition proposed continuous communication with journalists in ensuring these issues are always in public domain.

UNESCO Calls for Entries for UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2014

Cano Guillermo

United Nation Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has called for nominations for the 2014 edition of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. This is to mark the annual occasion of World Press Freedom Day, on May 3.

UNESCO is inviting the governments of member states, in consultation with their national commissions, international and regional professional and non-governmental organizations working in the fields of journalism and freedom of expression to nominate worthy candidates for the 2014 prize. The winner will be presented with a prize in the sum of  $25,000.

The Prize which was established in honour of Guillermo Cano, a Colombian journalist who died in the exercise of his profession, celebrates other individuals or organisations that have made significant impact to the defence and or promotion of press freedom all over the world.

Nominations are expected to come from organizations and professionals active in the fields of journalism and freedom of expression. Nominations should be submitted by filling out a nomination form in English or French, which should be delivered by post or email before February 15, 2014.

For more information, kindly contact  s.coudray@unesco.org

MRA, PPDC Make FOI Requests to NCAA on Purchase of Bullet-Proof Cars

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos and the Abuja-based Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC) have submitted a joint Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) asking for detailed information on the procurement records for the controversial purchase of two BMW bullet-proof cars for the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah.

Stella Oduah, Minister of Aviation

 In the letter addressed to the Director General of NCAA, Folayele Akinkuotu, MRA and PPDC asked for the procurement records for the purchase by the NCAA of two BMW 760 Li HSS vehicles with chassis numbers WBAHP41050DW68032 and WBAHP41010DW68044.

 Specifically, the groups requested for copies of the procurement and contract records for the purchase of the BMW vehicles, including: evidence of budgetary allocation for the procurement process; the procurement plan for the purchase of the vehicles; evidence of advertisements of the planned purchase in various newspapers, the NCAA website, the Procurement Journal, international publications, etc., soliciting for bids or inviting prospective bidders to submit bids for the procurement; and a list of all bids tendered for the procurement from when it was advertised till the close of the bid advertisement.

MRA and PPDC also requested copies of the minutes of the bid opening meeting; the attendance list indicating all individuals and the organizations they that were represent at the bid opening session; the NEEDS assessment document, if it is in a separate document from the procurement plan; standard bidding documents that were issued to all the bidders; documentation on the design and specification requirements, if this is not contained in the standard bidding documents; documentation on the scope of the referred procurement processes; copies of the minutes of bid evaluation meetings, records of bid evaluation, recommendation of bid evaluation committee and minutes of meeting of the Tenders Board awarding the contract to the successful companies.

They also asked for copies of the certificate of no objection from the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP); signed letter of award and final contract award documents for the award of the contract and any subsequently amendment or modification, if applicable; pro forma invoice; and documents showing delivery of procured vehicles.

In the letter signed by Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director of MRA, the groups said they expect prompt receipt of the documents not later than 7 days of their application as required by the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

 In a separate letter, the two organizations also made another joint request for the annual budget and the Public Procurement plans of the NCAA for the years 2012 and 2013.

Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge, Announce Fellowship

The Centre of African Studies is requesting applications for two Visiting Research Fellowships to be held at the University of Cambridge. The Fellowship which is with support from A.G Leventis Foundation is calling for entries from candidates in all the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

The aim of the program which is to enable successful Fellows to be focused during an undisturbed period of research and writing in Cambridge will run for six months from October 1, 2014 till   March 31, 2015. This is a non-renewable Fellowship and special preference will be given to candidates with a distinguished research profile who are permanent residents in Africa.

 The Centre will award up to £14,000, out of which travel, accommodation, maintenance costs and medical insurance will be paid by the Centre on behalf of the fellow. Fellows will have access to the library of the Centre of African Studies and to the University Library, which houses an extensive collection of materials relating to the history of the Commonwealth formerly housed in the Royal Commonwealth Society Library in London.

Applicants are expected to have completed a doctoral degree before the Fellowship start date. It is expected that applicants would come to Cambridge to work on a project building on existing research for which a period of residence in Cambridge is demonstrably appropriate. They should present a clear and feasible plan for preparing one or more pieces of work for publication. The initiation of a new research project will not be ruled out where there is a realistic expectation that it could be substantially advanced by the end of the tenure of the Fellowship.

To qualify for the Fellowship, applicants will need to submit an application to the Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge, by January 3, 2014. They will also need to ensure that reference letters will arrive at the Centre by the same date of application submission. The application should contain: a curriculum vitae including details of publications; planned project details; a photocopy of applicants PhD certificate (if applicable); a photocopy of applicants passport and two references to be sent directly by referees to the Director. The Centre will not consider applications that are not complete. References can be sent by email or in hard copy but applicants are not allowed to submit their applications by email.

Click here for more information.

Group Urges Journalists to Use FOI Act, Transparency Laws to Expose Corruption

The International Press Centre (IPC) has called on journalists to utilize the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and other transparency laws to expose corruption and raise the bars of accountability, transparency and good governance in Nigeria

Lanre Arogundade, International Press Centre (IPC) Director

This was contained in the communiqué issued at the end of a two-day workshop, entitled: Investigative reporting and methodologies for institutionalizing transparency and accountability in the democratic process organized by IPC on October 9 and 10, 2013. The workshop was supported by United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development project (DGD II).

The workshop featured presentations and interactive discussions that accentuate the importance and relevance of investigative reporting. It covered topics which can enhance the performance of the media’s watchdog role, reduce corruption in public institutions and restore public confidence in the Nigerian media.

At the workshop, participants observed that the challenges of investigative reporting in Nigeria are many and varied ranging from inadequate material resources for sustained research or investigation; hostile political environment to non-compliance with legal frameworks that compel the keeping of public documents and access by the public. Others are poor communications infrastructure, inadequate journalistic skills and weak ethical standards.

They also observed that the lack of independence of the media creates obstacles to investigative journalism when there are political and business interests. However, in reporting news, the media is increasingly overburdened by lack of accountability and transparency in government especially as one scam tends to follow and overshadow another.

To enhance and re-vitalize investigative reporting, the participants recommended that there should be continuous training and retraining for journalists as well as self-development by journalists themselves to raise the standards of professional practice in general and investigative reporting in particular.

Furthermore, the participants agreed that improved remuneration and working conditions should be put in place for journalists. In particular, news mediums should be obliged to cover all expenses incurred by journalists in the course of investigations rather than relying on sources for bribes and payments.

The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other media stakeholders should continue to act in the defence of press freedom and journalists’ rights. Specifically, they should explore legitimate means to ensure the prompt payment of wages and provision of insurance and other welfare packages for journalists.

Bloomberg Launches Africa TV in Washington DC

The Bloomberg Media Group, a division of Bloomberg L.P., has lunched Bloomberg Africa Television to strengthen its position as a leading supplier of global business and financial news television across the African continent.

 Bloomberg TV Africa was launched on October 10, 2014 at an event in Washington DC, and was attended by African business leaders. The Washington event is the first in a series of global launches, which will also see the new brand berthing in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

Bloomberg TV Africa is a partnership between Bloomberg Television LP, the global media brand with core focus on business and economy reportage, and Optima Media Group, a Lagos-based media company.

Optima Media Group will produce three to four hours of business programming per day which will be available to African viewers across the continent via Bloomberg’s English-language EMEA feed. Optima Media Group will engage its existing content and distribution channels to supplement Bloomberg’s English-language international news and analysis across Africa.

Rotimi Pedro, Chairman, Optima Media Group said: “For too long, people who don’t understand the intricacies and peculiarities of African businesses have been telling our story in a way that doesn’t adequately represent what we stand for. This news channel seeks to address this.”

“We will unearth the business leaders who are positively affecting the economy of the continent; highlight the investment opportunities and partner with the business policy-makers for the overall economic wellbeing of the continent,” he added.

Pedro explained that the channel will provide up to five hours a day of African business programming, aimed “at C-Suite executives, high net-worth individuals, policy makers, businesses and finance executives across the continent.”

In his word, Rick Plata, International Commercial Director, Bloomberg TV Africa, said the global network would give in-depth business news reporting, adding that with Optima Media’ Group’s knowledge of the African media landscape, Bloomberg TV Africa was positioned to become the definitive name in business news dissemination across the continent.

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, expressed her support for  Bloomberg TV Africa in the country. Okonjo-Iweala who was at the launch of Bloomberg TV Africa, said the establishment of the media unit in Nigeria was a welcome addition to the country’s growing economy.”This will be the first station – TV station – from abroad to be based in Nigeria and I think you’ve got it right,” the minister said.

The Bloomberg TV reaches over 310 million households worldwide.

UNESCO, Others Call for Knowledge-Driven Media Development

The United Nation Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) has endorsed a special initiative to forge knowledge-driven media development as a way of using knowledge to “better support free, independent and pluralistic media”.

UNESCO has therefore called on Member States to summon sufficient political will to support its efforts to become a learning organization in recognition of the importance of knowledge and in creating the right environment to capture it.

Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General UNESCO

This call was made by Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, during a public lecture entitled: Forging an Agenda for Knowledge-Driven Media Development, co- hosted by the Sector for Communication and Information, the Permanent Delegation of Germany, the German Commission for UNESCO and Deutsche Welle.

Bokova, who was represented by Getachew Engida, UNESCO Deputy Director-General said: “In sum, this is about refining UNESCO’s support to media development through the creation of a learning cycle that bolsters results-based management”.

Gunter Nooke, Personal Representative of the German Chancellor for Africa at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) challenged participants to explore the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the post-2015 development agenda

Nooke argued that ICTs could facilitate the eradication of poverty worldwide, especially in Africa. He recalled how technical innovation had influenced the course of history, citing how the protestant Reformation ideas of the German cleric Martin Luther had been influenced by the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg.

Peter Limbourg, Director-General of Deutsche Welle (DW), highlighted DW’s challenges in the new communications environment, pointing out that the major changes which had taken place globally necessitated a rethink of the DW brand.

Limbourg said: “In my new function as Director General, I will consequently continue to enhance DW’s multimedia content and its strong journalistic and multilingual profile.” There was a “strong correlation between media development, education and human rights”, challenging his company and UNESCO to act as “mediators between these spheres,” he added.

Verena Metze-Mangold, Vice-President of the German Commission for UNESCO

“It is therefore vital”, he stressed, “that we join forces and emphasize the important role of journalistic education and a free press in order to foster democracy, development and citizen participation”.

On his part, Danny van Heck, General Manager of SAP’s Public Services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), argued for the role of ICTs in leveraging new media to develop the knowledge economies of the future. He noted that new media were a key component in delivering “effective education and training to future generations”.

Vice-President of the German Commission for UNESCO, Verena Metze-Mangold, examined the issue of media convergence and its implications for development. She argued that media convergence offered an opportunity for “scattered spheres” to emerge – all of which were critical to promoting political pluralism and democracy.

The lecture was attended by 60 participants, including representatives of the UNESCO Permanent Delegations of Canada, Brazil, Gabon, Lithuania and Zambia.