I feel particularly honoured this morning to stand before the distinguished people present here, at the commissioning ceremony of this new radio station, SOBI FM 101.9FM, on this truly historic site in our hometown of Ilorin. Those of us who are genuine sons and daughters of this community, know the importance of this hill, in our history, culture and identity. It is only a bona fide child of the Ilorin community, that could have been sufficiently inspired, not only to dream at the height that midwifed this new radio station, but to also find the remarkable inspiration of patriotism and love of our community, to choose the name of our hill, as well as its location, for an endeavor, as grand as SOBI FM 101.9. These are worrisome times, when what seems to be the common theme is to just take away from our communities; so we must be very proud of the fact, that Lukman Mustapha, has baulked the trend. He showed his genuine love for our hometown and our state, by coming to put in an investment of this magnitude, in Ilorin.
Forty years ago, on February 1st, 1977, I was employed by the defunct Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, to commence a career in broadcasting. In that lifetime of professional engagement, I worked with genuine commitment, to help institute a broadcasting tradition in Kwara state. I worked in this community as a Studio Manager; Announcer; News Reader; Dee Jay; Sports and Ceremonials Commentator; Current Affairs Scripts Writer and Producer and Presenter of several genres of programs. Those pioneering efforts were very vital, because they gave us the true dimensions of what was possible with broadcasting; however, it was the liberalization and opening up of broadcasting, that allowed the exponential growth of the sector today, as both a profession and avenue of investments. This is the context within which we have to locate the emergence of the 793 radio stations that we now have in Nigeria today, including SOBI FM 101.9FM, that we have all gathered to commission this morning. Lukman Mustapha has thus become a genuine pioneer in our community, in a very fundamental sense, while at the same time following in the footsteps of many others, around Nigeria, and those who have established FM stations around our state. We must congratulate him for his patriotic effort.
On May 25th, 2016, just over a year ago, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed me as Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). Our Commission regulates the Nigerian broadcasting industry. One of the central functions of the Commission is to license new broadcasting outfits. And the fact that SOBI FM 101.9 is being commissioned, is the outcome of the rigorous work that often leads to the emergence of outfits like this. I feel very proud of the fact that Lukman Mustapha painstakingly met all the requisite steps to be able to get the approval for the issuance of the license. I am even happier to proudly say that SOBI FM 101.9 is being commissioned during my tenure as Director General of the NBC. I want to state that the fact that we are gathered here therefore, and I am able to address you as head of the regulatory institution of Nigerian broadcasting, is because of the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari found me worthy to be at the head of this very strategically important national institution. This is a tribute to President Buhari’s vision and leadership.
I will like to remind the management of the new SOBI FM 101.9, that they have a major responsibility on their hands. To earn a right to be issued a broadcast license is to be given the opportunity to make a major contribution to national development. Broadcasting must help to deepen our democracy; should be used to enhance national unity and community cohesion, and must never be deployed for hate or for the subversion of national order. The Nigerian Constitution obliges the media to hold government accountable to the Nigerian people. In doing so, we must walk the narrow path which finds its guidance in fidelity to the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. I want to implore you to use SOBI FM 101.9 to educate, inform and entertain our people in Ilorin and Kwara state, as well as Nigeria in general. If you infringe the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, be assured that you would face the wrath of the NBC! Then you would discover that my being your brother, or coming from Ilorin and Kwara state, would not save you from facing sanctions. I want to assume that you would do your work with the utmost fidelity to the best professional and ethical standards. Let me assure all of us gathered here today, that more stations will come to our community and our state, in the spirit of the deepening democracy and opening up more avenues of investment in broadcasting, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration actively encourages. SOBI FM 101.9 is therefore leading a charge that would make Ilorin and Kwara major broadcasting destinations in Nigeria.
I will like to also remind you that we are in the midst of our Digital Switch Over (DSO) process. Kwara state was chosen amongst the first set of six states that would be switched on; so very soon, NBC would change the face of television broadcasting in our state. Again, we must thank the Buhari administration for the choice of Kwara as one of the first states in Nigeria, that would experience digital broadcasting. Thank you very much for inviting me to attend and address this commissioning of SOBI FM 101.9. May this new station help to consolidate the very best of our communal ethos; may SOBI FM 101.9 help us to rediscover the very best of our values and cultures, in the same manner that the SOBI Hill has stood so firmly for millennia, as the very symbol of our unity and values.
Thank you very much for your attention!