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A tale of Jigawa’s unhealthy FM stations

The FM Radio stations in Hadejia, Kazaure, Babura, Birniwa, Kaugama, Basirka Maigatari, Marawa, Birnin Kudu, New World and Andaza were established about 12 years ago,…

The FM Radio stations in Hadejia, Kazaure, Babura, Birniwa, Kaugama, Basirka Maigatari, Marawa, Birnin Kudu, New World and Andaza were established about 12 years ago, during the administration of then governor Saminu Turaki following the introduction of decentralisation policy by his government.
Turaki, who was governor of the state from 1999 to 2007,  introduced the policy of decentralisation by relocating ministries from the state capital to local government headquarters.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the rationale behind the establishment of the many FM stations was to disseminate information on government policies and programmes of such ministries and agencies located outside the state capital.
Saminu’s policy of decentralisation suffered criticism from the citizenry as well as the political class and, perhaps to counter them the then government saw reason to establish more of the FM stations.
However, the coming on board of another government under the immediate past governor of the state, Sule Lamido, did not waste time in reversing the unpopular policy of decentralization. All ministries and agencies are now centralised and located in the state capital.
The reversal of the policy therefore, made the FM stations established in some of these local government headquarters ineffective and one might not be wrong to say with the reversal of policy that brought them on board they have outlived their time hence, the lack of funding, equipping and staffing from the government.
At present, only Birniwa, Babura, Kazaure, New World and Andaza FM Radio stations are on air while Maigatari, Birnin Kudu, Kaugama, Hadejia, Marawa and Basirka FM Radio stations are all off air.
In order not to suffer same fate of criticism that trailed the government of former governor Saminu Turaki with over the establishment of the FM Radio stations,  the government of his immediate successor,  governor Sule Lamido did not scrap the radio stations outright but instead transferred their ownership to the local government councils.
The transfer of ownership however further compounded the problems of the stations as they suffered neglect with underfunding as the most prominent.
Checks by Daily Trust on Sunday also revealed that from inception, the FM stations were not established on a sound foundation as all of them, with the exception of FM Andaza and New World FM operated for 12 years with the same equipment installed at inception while, apart from the initial training given to the staff at takeoff no one any other training either internally or  externally.
Speaking to some of the staff of the FM stations under the condition of anonymity, this reporter gathered that the FM station in Maigatari went off air since last year. The station ceased to be on air when the mast was destroyed by thunder storm while the one in Birnin Kuduhas been off air in the last three months.
Hadejia FM station also went off air during the last raining season when the stations’ mast was brought down following a rain storm in the area. A source said they tried to hang part of the broken mast on an internet café’s mast but discovered that the station’s  signal could not be received beyond about a kilometer radius. It was on this premise that the local government council asked the station to shut down because the services rendered was not commensurate with the money spent to fuel its generator.
A source at Kazaure FM station stated that the station was on air only during working hours as it was located within the premises of the Informatics Centre in Kazaure. The station benefits from the centre’s power supply so when the centre closed the station automatically goes off air.
Also speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday,  the secretary of Jigawa State chapter of the Civil Society Advocacy Partners, Isa Mustapha, whose team toured the FM stations to ascertain how they were fairing, said their findings revealed that out of the11 FM stations across the 27 local government areas of the state only five were on air, while the remaining six were not working.
Apart from Andaza FM located at the suburb of the state capital and New World FM station in the state capital, the remaining nine operate from temporary sites. Originally the local government councils where the stations are located were responsible for their supervision while Jigawa State Broadcasting Corporation was responsible for training and retraining of the staff.
Mustapha said: “All the FM stations were established by the state government of the then governor Saminu Turaki in accordance with his government decentralization policy. Two out the FM stations, the Andaza FM and New World FM are at present funded by the  state government under direct supervision of Jigawa State Broadcasting Corporation. The remaining nine are community based FM stations but funded by the local government councils in which they are located.
“Let me just speak on few. The physical structures of most of the stations are dilapidated as most them have been taken over by termites and rodents.
In Marawa FM station, Ringim LGA, the station’s transmitter was brought down by storm while  Hadejia’s FM station’s transmitter was broken by rain storm. But in an effort to remain on air, the part of the broken transmitter had to be hung on one of the mobile telecommunication masts.”
Hadejia FM station, he said, has been off air for over a year now. The station was able to remain on air to the very last time it ceased to function because it had been operating on the goodwill of the emir of Hadejia. The station operated from a local government guest house’s car garage with obsolete equipment.
Kazaure FM is on air but the studio’s environment is quite unconducive  as termites and rodents have overran the place. It is quite dilapidated as cobwebs are also everywhere. It is on air because it is situated within the Informatics Centre Kazaure and benefits from the power source of the Institute.
When the institute closes for the day it also closes when the institute is on holidays the FM also goes on holidays too.
The Marawa FM station in Ringim Local Government is off air. There is no single staff in the station as every structure in the station is in sorry state. Kaugama, Maigatari and Basirka FM stations are all not on air.
Contacted, the state commissioner of Information, Bala Ibrahim, blamed the unfortunate situation on the government of former governor Sule Lamido for transferring the ownership of the FM stations to local government councils.
He said the present administration would soon look at the possibility of reversing the earlier policy by returning ownership of the radio stations to state government.
“The New World and Andaza FM stations are properly functioning because they are managed by Jigawa State Broadcasting Corporation. The last administration handed over the remaining nine to the local government councils in which they are located. It is not a well thought out idea because that was the beginning of the problem,” he said.

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