It's now just over a year that our
weekly radio programme Talk Your Own - Make Naija Better (Make Nigeria
Better) has been on air. And 12 months on from our first episode, the
difference our programme has made is thrilling to see.
Our aim for the programme is an
ambitious one: provide a platform for Nigeria’s 160m+ population to get
involved in how their country is run.
Not only do we use radio to reach
people – broadcasting on more than 110 stations in 36 states – but we’re also using
the social networks that are becoming increasingly popular in Nigeria.
Since we've been on air, people have
used our Facebook page (now with over 8,000 likes), Twitter (over 2,000 followers), or texted in to
the show with stories they want us to cover or comments on issues of the day.
Speaking truth to power
Most encouragingly, audiences have
come to identify Talk Your Own as an effective avenue to their leaders.
The show has enabled public to put
questions to federal ministers, legislators, state commissioners, heads of government
agencies, and the heads of private sector organisations.
Recording radio show Talk Your Own in Nigeria.
One such example was when we brought
together a man from Lokoja in Kogi state (pictured above) with four top state
officials. His house had been flooded up to the roof and his garden and
vegetable plot completely swept away. He challenged them – asking how they were
helping people like him and how they are preparing for next year’s floods.
Another was when the Nigerian Minister
of Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe came on the show to answer questions
submitted by text, Facebook and Twitter from the many Nigerians who can't get safe
drinking water from their taps at home.
During questions from the audience, the
minister said that approximately 65% of Nigerians have access to clean water –
a claim that was challenged by listeners’ stories. So strong was the response
that we plan to follow up on the issue this year and test her claim.
Our listeners are also learning useful
ways of getting their voices heard to improve their own lives.
Chinonso Eziugwu from Abuja got in
contact with us so we could tell his story. After passing his O’Level examination
seven years ago, he had still not received an original certificate to prove his
qualification – a certificate that should have been sent out within two
"I made every kind of effort to get it
but I couldn't," he said. "Without it, [people could say] I forged my result. I
didn’t know what I could do. I was just tired."
We had already decided to do a
programme about how people could write petitions and we quickly realised that
we could feature Chinonso's story.
Petitioning government: recording interviews for Talk Your Own at a venue signing a petition against a bill.
We recorded Chinonso as he learned more
about the uses of petitions, which, in Nigeria, are formal statements written
by both individuals and groups to an official or group of people to register a
grievance. After learning how to write them, he successfully sent off a
petition to the Public Complaints Commission about his case.
Three months later, he came back on
the show – and he had good news: "By the grace of God and thanks to Talk
Your Own," he said, "I got a call that I should come and pick up my result.
I remember thinking, 'Ah, am I dreaming?' But now I have my certificate."
Such stories of our show’s impact
cheers the whole team – here’s to a lot more in the coming year!