A lot of undue hysteria, politicization, sentiment and hate speech was spewed out by some sectionalist groups over the announcement a week ago that a radio television license had been acquired by the Nomadic Education program to enhance its ability to reach out to pastoral communities for educational and social mobilization purposes.
The then Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu said at his valedictory press conference in Abuja on March 23 that government had acquired an Amplitude Modulation [AM] radio broadcast licence to be able to reach pastoralists across various locations in the country as part of measures to enhance nomadic education. Adamu also said the establishment of the radio frequency would help to tackle the perennial problem of clashes between farmers and pastoralists in the country.
According to the former minister, the radio service would operate on frequency of 720KHz and would air in Fulfulde, the native language of Fulani pastoralists. They are known to be ardent radio listeners so this is an important means to reach the community, Adamu said. He also said, “The radio service will serve as a vehicle for social mobilisation and education, in addition to interactive radio instruction methodology that will be adopted to reach the very hard-to-reach segment of our target population. Additionally, it will enhance our capacity to address crisis between herders and farmers with attendant consequences to loss of lives, destruction of productive assets, nomadic schools, teaching facilities and learning resources.”
The minister’s remarks were buttressed by the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE) Prof. Bashir Usman. He said Hausa broadcasters had been contacted to develop programmes that would add impetus to the commission’s effort towards mass education of the target group. In short, the radio frequency is meant to aid the Federal Government’s nomadic education program, which has been in existence since the 1980s.
Still, some groups quickly seized upon the announcement and began to issue vile threats and hate speech. The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, for example, said the radio service would be a “weapon of spreading hate propaganda against other nationalities.” How an educational radio station run by a government agency with programs prepared by renown educationists and closely monitored by the National Broadcasting Commission [NBC] could spread hate speech against other nationalities, flies in the face of reason.
The Forum also said “the official languages recognised by the constitution are English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.” Is that right? Who said that no newspaper, radio or television article or program can be written or aired except in these languages? The fact is, in every state of the federation, state-owned as well as private radio and television stations are broadcasting programs in nearly every language that is spoken in that state.
The cantankerous Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) also said in reaction, “The Yoruba must have their radio stations as well as other tribes. Nigeria is a secular state with different religions and tribes, so whatever the government is doing should reflect the secularity of the Nigerian nation.” The fact that FRCN’s Ibadan station has been broadcasting Yoruba programs for decades is forgotten by OPC in its rush to throw an undue jab at an educational initiative.
Christian Association of Nigeria’s [CAN] spokesman Bayo Oladeji also said “federal government is pampering herders. Why didn’t they set up a radio station for farmers too? Where is the radio station for the bandits in Zamfara or for the Niger Delta militants?… Is the allegation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that there is a planned Fulanisation of the country not playing out now?”
This level of cynicism, at par with hate speech, is totally unjustified because the pastoral community was identified decades ago as a special case that is left behind in the country’s educational efforts. Because of the community’s peculiar way of life, a special program was designed to educate its children like all other citizens. The radio frequency is an important tool in this effort, nothing more, nothing less. If it also helps the government to address the community and discourage it from the ugly clashes with farming communities, then that is double gain for Nigeria.