The rise of private radio, freedom to Kwara people, By Lajide Sulaimon

“…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter… ” – Thomas Jefferson.

I must say a very big Kudos and Bravo to the new breed of Private Radio stations in Kwara state. Before time, in Kwara, it was a totally gagged press, where journalists can’t express themselves freely because of fear of the unknown. Most of the atrocities committed by those unscrupulous people in power and the so-called leader were so censored and pinned that the common Kwarans were totally kept in the dark. No thanks to the already bought out state media organisations.

Now, the reverse is the case, as many private Fm stations sprang up to give voice and lend credence to a more vibrant, responsive and responsible press. Within a space of 4 years about 4 private radio stations – Sobi FM, Al Barka Fm, OFM, Igbomina Fm, further augmented the efforts of the already established private stations like Royal Fm(2011), Okin Fm(2011) and Raypower(now defunct in the state).

It is not far-fetched, during the politicking and electioneering period in Kwara State, these private stations made it possible for the opposition voices to be vividly heard. The hitherto clandestine system of government and irrational governance as entrenched by the sitting government was subsequently open and accessible to the common masses. Campaigns,rallies and publicity of these oppositions were unequivocally aired by these new stations. These were possible due to many available options; as On Air campaigns and propaganda are quite cheap per thousand.

The popular Ó tò gè slogan of the opposition APC was outrightly made popular through these radio stations. Jingles, theme songs, campaign compositions of politicians were adequately captured by the radio stations. In fact, they made the Ó tò ge mantra acceptable and singable to market women, Civil servants, artisans and youths cut across Ilorin (the state capital), and other parts of the state.

The victory of free press attained in Kwara State, I must submit, firmly supported the struggle for political liberty from the noose of the draconian out gone dynasty. It should however be noted and documented in history that these private radio stations contributed a lot to this historic feat.

Sulaimon writes in from Ilorin

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