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5 Mar 2016

Why Information Commissioner Visited Katsina-Ala, Idekpa Radio Benue Substations, Other Facilities

By James Ibechi
Thursday, March 3, Benue State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Chief Odeh Ageh, moved by the desire to boost Radio Benue to cover the entire state and its environs, accompanied by notable Directors in his ministry, embarked on on-the-spot-assessment tour of facilities of some agencies under the ministry.
The tour, among other things, is to enable the commissioner put necessary machinery in place, not just for budget defence, but ultimately to prepare for the 2016 budget implementation.
The commissioner had earlier hinted that there is a ministerial proposal as captured in the year budget to bring back Radio Benue Idekpa booster and Katsina Ala Sub-stations on air, after years of abandonment, perhaps by the immediate past administration of Gabriel Suswam.
The first leg of the journey on Thursday took him to Katsina Ala and Gboko LGAs of the state, where he toured a supposed Radio Benue Sub-station facility at Katsina Ala and the state public libraries there.
At the supposed location of the Katsina Sub-station, the commissioner could not believe his eyes at what he saw, as only an empty uncompleted bungalow, two masts: one for AM and the other for FM plus a vandalized and an empty generator house were what he beheld, as the only vestiges of the once functional state radio sub-station, that once served to transmit and disseminate information on the happenings in the state to the state population in the area, especially where the mother station of the radio in Makurdi cannot reach.
On inquiry as to what had happened to the station, it was learnt that the facility was vandalized during a political schism that enveloped Zone A in the past. It was completely vandalized, destroyed and even razed to the ground by alleged sponsored political thugs. Since then, it had been hard for the Zone A residents to get alternative radio to Ashi Wave, to inform them about the government programmes and developmental activities. Same goes for the state Zone C, where most of the residents are not adequately covered by radio Benue Makurdi. Most parts of the zone do not receive radio Benue. In its place, Joy Fm has taken over the air wave.
Both Ashi Wave and Joy Fm are privately owned by politicians who are opposed to the Change programmes and policies of the present government of the state, and had as such, cashed in on the comparative advantage to influence how votes were patterned in the just concluded Benue South rerun, through unchecked propaganda.
Another problem of the Katsina Ala sub-station of the state radio is that, land speculators and other members of the host community are already encroaching on the land where the radio and state libraries are located. This is in addition to the problem of lack of security for the facilities.
On observation of these challenges, the commissioner stressed the need for erection of parameter fences round the land. He has also hinted that he would liaise with the appropriate LG authorities and the police to ward off the land speculators and for the provision of security for the broadcast equipment that would be reinstalled at the Katsina Ala and Idekpa substations.
He has also directed Radio Benue engineers to submit a formal report of the observation made during the assessment tour of the facility as well as to recommend what is needed to be done to return the two substations back on air.
Considering the important role the two radio substations play in the dissemination of the right kind of information to the populace, the state government must act, as a matter of urgency, to provide the fund required to he ministry of information to get the radio Sub-stations back on air.
Adequate security for the facilities must also be provided to keep vandals of them in future.
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Item Reviewed: Why Information Commissioner Visited Katsina-Ala, Idekpa Radio Benue Substations, Other Facilities Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Link Naija