Africa

Upgrading Nigeria Image through Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA), Tourism, and Nigerians Abroad!

The quest to improve the bastardized Nigeria image by some past and present Nigerian leaders at home and abroad is taking another leap. Nigerian Government launching of Nigerian Television Authority International, NTA, is a good step in the right direction.

The launching coincided with the initiation of Tourism through Abuja Carnival, and may not be compatible with the statement credited to the Information Minister, Mr. Frank Nweke, Jr., if that is true, that the role of Nigerians Abroad is “inconsequential”, and their lack of understanding as to what is going on in Nigeria. If that is true, it could be a mixed signal in the promotion of Nigeria image. The statement Nweke Jr., has been denying since its publication.

 

According to Mr. Peter Igho, Executive Director, NTA Programs, “As a TV station in a class of its own, NTA will continue to be in the forefront of innovation and strive to be among the best on the global landscape with creative programmers, services, news and entertainment.” NTA, an online network, has 26 fully-fledged stations with three in Lagos. It covers approximately 80% of the total land area of Nigeria with a viewership of over 50 million. Presently, NTA has six zones, South-South (Benin); North-Central (Kaduna); North-West (Sokoto); South-East (Enugu); North-East (Maiduguri); South-West (Ibadan), while Lagos and Abuja operate independently as the seat of business and the seat of Government respectively.

NTA News is a daily ritual for me now with NTA International Newscasters Regina Josiah-Dimlong – Bauchi, NTA Extra – Moji Makanjuola – Abuja, and Funke Oga – Lagos, among others at 1:00a.m. and 4:00 a.m., Nigerian local time. This is at 7:00p.m., and 10:00p.m., Eastern Standard Time in the United States of America. Things are changing for good in Nigeria. I am beginning to experience home sick.

 

Watching NTA programs would possibly change the perception of some people about Nigeria, based on the programs on NTA. Its programs are very entertaining and educative, while the news is very in-depth covering the whole of Nigeria.

Some of the NTA Programs, in addition to theNews, include, Sports, Current Affairs, Entertainment – Drama i.e. Featuring Soap Opera, Children’s Adventure, Cartoons, Specials, Comedy, Musicals, Series and Serial;Variety and light Entertainment – i.e. Talk Shows, Quiz and Debates; Public Enlightenment – i.e. Documentary, Discussions, Docu-Drama, and Travelogue; Family Support Services; Educational Support Service; Traditional and Cultural Ceremonies.

Others are: Traffic (Land), Traffic (Air); Fitness Drills; Business News; “Izozo”(Exposing the evils ofProstitution and child trafficking); “Another Opportunity”(Ex-Convicts new life); “Flying High”(educating Nigerians on the different aspects of our national life, history and culture as well as promoting an awareness of pride as a Nigerian);”Aiguo Basinmwin”(drama set in Benin city to highlights the conflicts between traditional beliefs and Christianity in the colonial era); “Grassroots’ TV”(Interaction between the government and rural areas);

“I Need to Know” (HIV/AIDS crusade); “NDDC News” (Niger Delta development programs), among others.

Some of the NTA programs that I have the opportunity to watch are, “African Pot”, a thirty minutes documentary exploring the food, culture and tourism; “Corruption Must Go” – featuring Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) crusade against corruption, promoting the virtues of honesty, probity and accountability in all spheres of the Nigerian life; “Custom Duty”, a 30 minute Programme focusing on Customs affairs, and Game Shows. One outstanding show that I like is the Youth Program on Entertainment, in a talk show format on various topics, being hosted by young talented Nigerian youths.

The International Newscasters are on top of their job, with very good eye contact for most of them, by reading their news on the screen.While their dress code matches the national culture not denoting any religious inclinations. Men newscasters are still struggling to match up with their women counterpart. Since NTA has gone international, the management should enforce a uniform code of dressing for the newscasters, male and female alike, and for those on the field to actually portray good Nigeria image and not any other culture that might have religious connotations. If such is allowed, other religious relics could dress according to the tenets of their belief.

With the newscasters any time there is a technical boo-boo especially when the video could not be displayed, or while waiting for the technicians to slot in the field-report and could not be done, the newscasters need to say something to their views. At least “we apologize for that technical problem”, or, “we are having some technical problems bringing you that piece of news”, or something like that. It could be embarrassing to see the newscaster waiting and waiting without saying a word. You can see the frustration on their faces while waiting for the technicians to slot in the recorded video, or field report.

Nigerians Abroad could find some good things about Nigeria. Some of the news could be stage-managed, that is, airing whatever the Government wants viewers to see, not reporting the ugly news about Nigeria. That is propaganda. Every Nation does that, especially for the news media that is fully controlled by the Government. Nothing is wrong with that. In its promotion of the image until the country gets to a matured level, or when it starts having the competition from another Network, like African International Television, Nigeria Television Authority is on track.

Overall, the launching of NTA International is a good tool for Nigeria to resurrect Nigeria image at home and abroad.

Almost at the time NTA International was launched, the Annual Abuja three-day Carnival kicked off with the colorful parade of Nigerian Culture in display. One of the purposes of the Abuja Carnival, according to El-Rufai, the FederalCapitalTerritory, FCT, Minister, is “to showcase Nigeria Culture, and attract tourists to the Country”.

Attracting tourists to Nigeria is another way of boosting Nigeria image. Nigerians have so much to show to the World for each of the twelve months in any given year. The modern developments like the Tinapa project in CrossRiversState are going to attract tourists and businesses from all walks of life. The Obudu Ranch in Calabar, Borgu Game Reserve, Osun Osogbo annual festival in Osun State, the Argungun Festival in Sokoto State, the Shao Awon mass wedding, Onimaka, Nimfu, Patigi Regatta, Owu falls, Imoleboja Rock Shelter, Ojokolo hills, Esie Stone Images, Juju Rocks, Mungo Park Cenotaph, Makama Mosque, Okuta Ilo-Irin, Mungo Park’s ship, Epa Festival, Iro Festival, Ogun Festival in Kwara State, and many others across the Country are some of the annual events that could attract tourists within and from other parts of the world to Nigeria, if ‘the price is right’.

Regardless how much efforts were placed by the Government to revive or promote good governance or Nigeria image, Nigerians have some roles to play in its promotion. Talking to a very highly ranking Nigerian Government Official in Abuja, about the Abuja Carnival, the response was that “Obasanjo would not deviate from his idolatry practices like he did in 1979. He brought masquerades from all over Nigeria and he says he is promoting Nigerian Culture”. I was shocked that a high ranking, well ‘educated’ Nigerian Government official would liken the promotion of Nigerian Culture to idol worshipping. If someone like that thinks that way, imagine what other Nigerians would think about Nigerian Culture. Definitely such person would not allow his children to speak any other language at home aside from English.

The officials view was quite different from the view of another Government official, who is a Pentecostal Pastor in Saraki’s administration in KwaraState, Pastor Moses Awojobi. He is the Kwara State Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, who led a 500-man contingent from Kwara to 2006 Abuja Carnival. The Pastor is of the opinion that the “Egungun” (Masquerades) festivals and some other like “Ibegun Jagun”, are purely for entertainment.

According to the Pastor, “It is not a religion; Egungun festival entertains and unites the people whenever the festival is on ….Egungun is not idolatry as people think. … When Moses was coming from Mount Sinai, after communing with God as, he descended the mount, the people who had been waiting for him could see that his eyes were beaming with light, reflecting lighting to the extent that they could not look at his face. So, what happened, he had to cover his face with cloth lining to reduce the intensity of the light, people celebrated him in the belief that having gone to talk with God they also can receive God’s favour through him, that act was what is being practised till today, which is called Egungun.” Ride on Pastor.

Little did some Nigerians realize that tourism brings enormous revenue to the people and the Government? People would travel from far places to watch the Carnival. The costume makers would make money out of it; the visitors would stay in the Hotels, eat, drink, and spend their money on some souvenirs to take home. Some countries across the world make huge revenue from tourism. Nigeria should not be left out from this cash cow adventure.

Nigeria is made up of different ethnic groups numbering over 500. In Atlanta, Georgia, USA, various ethnic groups from around the world settled in the City which constitutes its strength, because they chose to work together. Everyone is trooping to Atlanta to live, but in its ethnic diversity, Atlanta is strong and a progressive City.

Nigerian States should be encouraged to develop tourism in their respective States, cultivated around their nature and the culture within the State to generate additional revenue for their States. It would enable the States to embark on some projects without waiting for the Federal Government allocations. Roads, health, education, water and some other needed facilities would be readily available for the people, down to the Local Governments. Individuals would benefit immensely from tourist attractions. It could end some mental slavery in some quarters.

In line with the above would be Nigerians at home and most especially abroad, either in Europe, United States of America, Asia, or Africa, to promote good image of Nigeria. They have tremendous roles to play in upgrading Nigeria image. Nigerians should not be discouraged with the alleged statement credited to the Information Minister, Mr. Frank Nweke Jr., about the roles of Nigerians Abroad to be “inconsequential,” and their ignorance of what is happening in Nigeria. I doubt if the Information Minister would say something like that.

Nigerians Abroad, believe it or not, have played, and still playing, and will continue to play significant roles in the Nigerian economy, and its sustenance. The fact that Nigerians Abroad give audience to the Government officials whenever they visit and show them some good things around that could benefit Nigeria, is very significant. Even if Nigerian leaders do not use Nigerians Abroad, at least, it opened ways for them to some other ventures to assist them in their governance. Nigerians Abroad contribute immensely on the media, the internet, newsprint, or video interactive.

Topping that is the significant of regular remittances, in tune of millions annually to Nigeria for their family members. It would be a shame for any ‘smooth operator’ under the auspices of the Government to even think or make any statement close to saying that Nigerians Abroad role is “inconsequential”. That is not smart way of promoting Nigeria image abroad.

Are Nigerians promoting Nigeria image for Nigerians at home? I don’t think so. Nigerians promote Nigeria image to someone outside the country, especially to other nationalities where Nigerians reside. I doubt if there is any country in the world where we do not have Nigerians playing some significant roles in the development of the communities where they reside.

Nigerians Abroad should stand up against the ‘Bad Eggs’, or ‘Black Sheep’ in their respective Communities, to complete the good image crusade. I believe the launching of NTA International, the Abuja Carnival, with good governance in the country, is on track; while making use of some credible Nigerians Abroad, at a cheaper rate rather than using the ’empty cans’ for their own selfish ends. Nigerians are very hospitable, friendly, and loving people.

I understand that you can subscribe to NTA through your Local Cable Companies, in USA especially. You can also watch the most current news on your computer by logging to http://www.nigeria.gov.ng/ntanews.aspx, or http://www.ntanetwork.com.

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