President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by the Vice President, Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo at the event, stated that the project was in line with Federal Government’s commitment to meet the 2015 global deadline for the digitisation of the broadcast industry and international best practices.
“We are today empowering the Voice of Nigeria to robustly project our international profile and make Nigeria heard more positively and more widely around the world,” adding that “the transmitting station we are commissioning today is, therefore, aimed at making VON better able to meet its vital obligation of telling our story from our perspective.”
The President noted that VON established in 1961, as an external arm of the then Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation was in recognition of the critical role the country was playing in freeing other African countries from the shackles of colonialism.
“It was understood early enough in our history that Nigeria needed an external voice to reach the world, as the leader of Africa, and to provide a platform for rallying African voices,” he stated.
President Jonathan, charged the management and staff of VON to as a matter of priority develop programmes that would make the Radio station the choice of listeners in and outside the shores of Nigeria.
“You have the duty of helping to inculcate in all Nigerians abiding faith and pride in Nigeria, and the knowledge that we all have a stake in ensuring that our stride towards sustained economic growth and development is not compromised by breaches of peace and security in any part of the country.”
Similarly, Dr. Jonathan assured that Government was committed to meeting its obligations to VON and other broadcast organisations.
“In keeping with my avowed policy of expanding the political space and driving the ideals of democratic process, this Administration is not interested in turning VON or any government broadcast organisation into an uncritical mouthpiece for our policies,” he emphasised.
In his remarks, the Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, called on President Jonathan to ensure the immediate completion of the second phase of the VON project. He also appealed for additional funds for the nation’s information sector for the smooth execution of government transformation agenda.
In his welcome address, the Director-General of VON, Abubakar Jijiwa, expressed optimism that the second phase of the project, when completed, would enable VON to embark on 24-hour broadcasting.
Alhaji Jijiwa solicited for Presidential intervention for the VON expansion projects which included the construction of two additional transmitters and antenna systems in line with global best practices and standards, construction of VON Abuja Broadcasting House as well as rehabilitation and upgrading of the ageing Ikorodu Transmitting Station.
Vice President Mohammed Sambo at the occasion performed the commissioning of the Transmitting Station and the Yaya Abubakar Rotatable Antenna.