BBC and NU Partnership Evolves (May 18th 2014)

A high powered delegation from the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) has held a one-day productive partnership meeting with the Njala University (NU) Administration, at the University’s main campus, at Njala. The rationale for the meeting was to formalize the partnership agreement between the NU radio station and the BBC.

The leader of the delegation, Steve Martin, who is also the Business Development Manager for the BBC Southern and West Africa, said the BBC has a long standing partnership history with renowned universities across the world, and now the NU. He implored the NU Administration to make judicious use of the partnership.

In his introductory remarks, the Director of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) of Njala University, Thomas Songu, stated that Njala University Radio FM.92.5 is a teaching, learning and research radio station with the vision to educate and inform staff, students and the rural communities in Sierra Leone. The ICT Director reiterated that the radio station will promote rural community outreach programs, including but not limited to, health and sanitation; agriculture and food safety; technological innovations, gender and other social issues. The ICT Director reassured the audience that he would ensure that the editorial principles of the BBC are adhered to. The chairman of the ceremony, Dr Edwin J. Momoh described the partnership as a “right step in the right direction”, adding that the NU is very passionate and committed to strategic partnerships, especially with renowned institutions and organizations like the BBC, FAO, and UNDP, among others.

In his welcome statement, the Vice Chancellor and Principal of the NU, Professor Abu Sesay expressed delight for the partnership and pledged his administration’s tireless support to ensuring that the partnership with the BBC thrives. The Vice Chancellor and Principal stated that the day marked an epoch making event in the history of the NU. The Vice Chancellor and Principal Njala informed the gathering that the partnership with the BBC has added another international accolade to the already existing ones made under his tenure of office.

The Chairman of the Independent Media Commission, Rod Mac Johnson stated that the regulatory media body is grateful for the practical strides made by the NU Administration, especially with the advent of the NU Radio, and advised that the Radio be used for research and learning purposes.

Making a statement on the Media LANDSCAPE IN SIERRA LEONE, the Head of Governance, UNDP Edward Kamara, stated the Country’s past is marked by “political violence, an overly centralized government, and a decade civil war which devastated the country.” The war he went on, undermined an already fragile political, educational, economic and media infrastructure. The UNDP representative maintained that Sierra Leone has a proud tradition of indigenous independent media, being the first nation in Anglophone West Africa to publish newspapers. He reiterated that by the time the country gained her independence in 1961, radio had already replaced print media as the primary communication medium, adding that in the post-colonial era, the climate was initially supportive of freepress, although later governments sought to control the media by means of legislation, threat and coercion, a condition that deteriorated the media climate, thus leaving it in the hands of untrained media practitioners whilst the trained ones fled. He expressed delight citing that the staff at Njala University radio will deliver positively because they are qualified and experienced.

David Mwesigwa of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization mentioned that as part of ways to help the NU, the FAO donated a vehicle and a motor bike to ease the enormous constraints faced by the University. He assured all of his organization’s continued support to the NU Radio, and admonished all that the donated items be used sensibly.

In his closing courtesies, the Public Relations Officer of the NU, Dr Victor Massaquoi, stressed the importance of the radio, citing that the NU Radio would be used as a prolific nexus between the University and the Community.

Some of the highlights of the meeting were: the official launch of the BBC satellite link, a two-minutes interview by the BBC Focus on Africa Senior Producer, Paul Bakibinga on the NU Radio, FM 92.5.