Friday, 17 June 2011

Jamilah Tangaza - Fellow, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

Position: Head, Hausa Service, BBC World Service
Date of Fellowship: Trinity Term
Sponsor: BBC World Service

Jamilah Tangaza is the Head of BBC’s Hausa Service – one of the language services of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC World Service. As Head of BBC Hausa, Jamilah Tangaza oversees the production and transmission of the Service’s daily output on radio, online and mobile phone. She runs two production teams – in London and in Nigeria; and manages BBC Hausa Staff which include Producers, Broadcast Journalists and In-the-field Reporters in Nigeria, Niger, Ghana and Cameroun.

Prior to becoming the Head of BBC Hausa, Jamilah worked as Acting Head of BBC Hausa between 2005 and 2006. She joined the BBC in 1992 as a Producer - planning, producing, and presenting news and current affairs programmes for the BBC Hausa Service. In 1994 she became a Senior Producer, overseeing production and supervising BBC Hausa staff and reporters in the West Africa region. From 2004 to 2005, Jamilah worked as the BBC’s Abuja Editor, responsible for planning and organising the BBC’s output from Nigeria.

Jamilah has also worked with various other BBC departments, presenting and producing a range of programmes including BBC World Service’s English flagship programme, Outlook, and the BBC’s English for Africa programmes, Focus on Africa and Network Africa.

Jamilah holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Bayero University Kano, Nigeria, and a Master of Science degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She attended the BBC’s Leadership Programme in collaboration with the Ashridge Business School, University of Hertfordshire. Jamilah was an attendee of the British Parliamentary Briefing in 2010, where she spoke on Radicalisation in Northern Nigeria exploring the nature and causes of radicalisation in Nigeria and how perceptions of these local conflicts influence the nature of radicalisation including that of the middle class in the United Kingdom.

Jamilah is a member of the United Kingdom’s Chattered Institute of Management. She is also the founder of Community Skills and Acquisition Initiative (COSAI) - a non-profit voluntary organization in Nigeria which mainly seeks to provide access to vital information particularly to low-income and rural communities in Nigeria.

Research Project:
In 2009 Jamilah Tangaza conceived the BBC Hausa Village road show (BBC Hausa A Karkara). The Village road show turned out to be the most ambitious in-the-field reporting the BBC Hausa Service had ever embarked on in its more than 50 years’ history. Almost twenty (20) journalists and production personnel travelled to twenty-two (22) villages in Northern Nigeria with the aim of engaging rural communities as well as giving them an opportunity to be part of a thriving and debating global media environment that’s changing rapidly in today’s digital technology world.

Whilst on that journey BBC Hausa offered a total of 1600 minutes of content via Radio and Online. We unexpectedly discovered too, that despite their low-literacy and low income levels some rural dwellers used mobile phones to access, store and share news and information on the BBC Hausa Village Road show.

This aspect of the findings, experience and implications of BBC Hausa A Karkara form the basis for my fellowship research at the Reuters Institute. The title of the research paper is “Challenges and Obstacles of Creating Mobile Content for Illiterate Audiences in Rural Africa: A Case Study of BBC Hausa Village Road Show”.

Internet picks
This is my “home” site in every sense of the word. It is my one stop shop for news in Hausa vernacular about Nigeria, Africa and the World! BBC Hausa is a rich, multimedia site and serves as a great resource for research and general information.
Some great papers here, with fascinating insights (both for practitioners and academics) in today’s rapidly changing, technology -driven media world.
Brilliant search tool which I have consistently used since the first days I stumbled into it!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Politicians Crying Wolf?

Yes….it’s that season again. Not of the football premierships. I am talking about the “political campaign premiership” in Nigeria. But then given the nature and quality of it I am not sure “premiership” is a suitable word.

I got the email below in my inbox…and by the way as Editor I get all sorts of messages:

“Crack agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission are expected to swoop down in Ilorin, Birnin Kebbi, Sokoto, Gombe and Dutse today to arrest top Finance and Local Government Ministry officials in a crackdown secretly ordered by the Presidency”.

…”five Northern governors who have been spared from the crackdown are expected to quickly capitulate and support Jonathan’s ambition, or else the EFCC will crack down on them too. They are Niger State governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, Adamawa’s Admiral Murtala Nyako, Katsina State’s Barrister Ibrahim Shema, Zamfara’s Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi and Kano’s governor Ibrahim Shekarau.”

I looked at it suspiciously and we go again! Everyone trying to spin and manoeuvre their way to power and money or hang on to it at all cost!

Politicians cry “wolf” because “wolf” it what they have turned the EFCC to since it came to existence some few years back. Today nobody flicks an eyebrow when alleged and offending corrupt public officers say the EFCC witch-hunts opponents.

But the big question is: does the EFCC do so?

Well, the anti-corruption body always shouts to high heavens, “no, no, no, we don’t do that.”

The new twist to the “EFCC-witch hunt” saga in today’s story adds a new dimension to the tale.

Could it a pre-emptive strike from those who smell the rat from the flooding corners of their States?

Politics in Nigeria is colourful, dramatic, sometimes to the sad and tragic proportions they often reach today. But politicians say we should not despair; that democracy is still at its “infant” stage and things will be better.

As the country prepares to go to the polls early next year…I pray with millions of my compatriots.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Crisis looms in drought-stricken Niger

The video by Al-Jazeera above is from their archives dated November 2008. But the situation in Niger today appears to be heading to a situation that may be worse than even the 2005 food shortage.

With poor rainfall, crop failure and exhausted food reserves across Niger and four months to go until the next harvest, there are mounting fears of a food crisis similar to the one of 2005 that affected thousands of children.

Africa's Sahel region is lurching towards a food crisis which the world has only weeks left to avert. Worsening conditions in the semi-arid belt which stretches across the southern Sahara - have seen malnutrition rates soar as families struggle to find enough food to eat.

It is now the start of the "lean season", the annual battle to survive from the end of one year's food stocks to the start of a new harvest. Baraka has brought her 13-month-old son, Abdul, to the health centre in Guidimouni. At 5.5 kg, he is acutely malnourished. He is also suffering from malaria. Abdul is one of the many children expected to need treatment for malnutrition in the coming months.

Even if more aid is pledged right now, the obstacles in getting succour to the most vulnerable and remote communities on the planet mean hundreds of thousands of children in Niger and Chad are already facing life-threatening hunger.

Aid workers say that any response now is already late because it takes some three months to get food to those that need it - by which time it will already be too later for some. But they say there is still time to reverse the situation before it becomes a more widespread disaster.

The presence of medical volunteers on the ground in Niger and a new government following the overthrow of a president who exacerbated the last crisis has meant that the local response has been far more pro-active than in 2005. But Niger is one of the world's poorest countries and outside resources are required to help it feed its starving.

Despite the fact that the United Nations and others now estimate a total 10 million people are at risk, the response from donors -- many of whom have already dug deep into their pockets this year for the Haiti earthquake - has been slow.

The UN already expects to treat 859,000 under-fives in the Sahel this season for severe malnutrition, the point at which a child faces an increased risk of disease or death.

(Source: BBC, UNICEF)

Friday, 7 May 2010

The President is Dead: Lessons to be Learnt

The President is dead! After a long and turbulent journey of ill health, Nigeria’s President Malam Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died on May 5, 2010. Until his death, Malam Umaru had not been seen in public since 23rd November 2009. That last day was when he flew to Saudi Arabia, where at that point, he was meant to perform the lesser Hajj as well as see his doctors.

However a few days after his arrival to Saudi, story leaked that Malam Umaru had been checked into a hospital. That was the beginning of Nigeria’s bewildering political expedition. The events that followed 23rd November were the most bizarre, confusing, shocking, disrespectful and pitiful in the contemporary history of Nigeria’s democracy.

Section 144 of the 1998 constitution stipulates that the President makes a written submission to the National Assembly informing them of his absence from duty. Before Malam Umaru left for Saudi no such letter was sent. That was the basis upon which all the intrigues and evil drama were scripted and played out. A constitutional crisis broke out.

Some called for Umaru to be impeached, others resisted. Some called for the Vice President to be automatically sworn in as substantive President, other kicked against it. The plot thickened with clandestine meetings held in the most unexpected places and destinations within and outside the country. The rumour mills frantically churned out unsubstantiated stories.

No one however is under any illusion that Nigeria is a complex country to rule. Neither is the notion of the non-shortage of talents disputed. So Nigeria does sometimes get to have visionary leaders.

Apparently Umaru was one of them. Some say his presidency held great potentials for the transformation of Nigeria but the success of his programmes and policies never came to fruition as he was continually hindered by ill health. Nonetheless Yaradua did make some measured gains. The main one being the Amnesty Programme of the Niger Delta which brought relative calm to the region that produces Nigeria’s cash.

In my interview with Nigeria’s new President Goodluck Jonathan (he was Acting President then) some 2 weeks ago in Washington DC, he admitted that the months that followed Umaru’s sick leave were the most challenging of his political career.

Goodluck Jonathan was not the only senior politician who owned up to the difficult and turbulent times Nigeria faced. The country’s then foreign minister Ojo Maduekwe told the BBC that Nigeria they might not have followed the right ways of tackling some of the issues that confronted the country. He too admitted that things were not going well for Nigeria.

Nigeria escaped being torn into shreds following a 1 minute BBC interview with ailing Umaru Yaradua. That interview effectively became the much needed “Section 144” of Nigeria’s constitution. Goodluck Jonathan became the Acting President. The action relatively doused political tension.

Journalism and journalists faced the greatest challenge in the country's recent history as information was outrightly denied, dubiously fabricated, maliciously manipulated and un-ingeniously managed. Special Media Advisers and PR Guru's misled Nigerians. The worst of the culprits were said to be those charged with the responsibility of managing President Umaru ‘Yaradua’s publicity.

All publicity surrounding President Umaru backfired as they were most unprofessionally handled. In the end the whole issue turned into a PR disaster, indeed a catastrophe. The victim was of course the bed-ridden, helpless man – the President.

But on Wednesday 5th May, He whom in whose hands Umaru’s life was, brought to a final end the suffering of the helpless President. Immediately after it happened, text messages flew across the world: The President is dead!

Veteran politician, former Lagos governor, AKA Baba Kekere, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, is quoted as having said that “the death of Yar’Adua is sad and I hope it will teach all of us a good lesson. He is a good man but unfortunately his political associates used his illness to play on the intelligence of Nigerians”.

Umaru’s remains was laid to rest in his own town, Kastina. The last 6 months must not be swept under the carpet. Some people should not only hold down their heads in absolute shame, but they must be disgusted with themselves for their outrages and unforgiving immature behavior.

I personally see everything surrounding late President Umaru’s illness and death as a personal tragedy. Personal tragedy for him in the sense that a “good, quiet, humble, unassuming” fellow had been turned into a political pawn by some mean, selfish individuals. At one point Umaru had even become a “hate-figure”.

Clearly, any decent human being will be engaged in deep reflection over all the unfortunate incidents that happened from 23rd November 2009 to 6th May 2010. Lessons must be learnt.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

PDP: Dog Eat Dog Politics

Tragedy appears to be set to befall Nigeria’s ruling party, PDP. Vanguard, a local newspaper describes what is happening to PDP as “the story of a party perpetually steeped in crises and how the presidential aspiration of not a few is fuelling the present shambolism in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP”.

It goes on to make rather unsettling predictions on the party: the unfolding scenario in the polity especially in the family of this self acclaimed largest party in Africa is turning out to be a case of dog eat dog. The PDP Umbrella is once again threatened by the possibility of being shredded.

Last week, crisis in the party deepened following the suspension from the PDP of members of a splinter group, the Peoples Democratic Party Reform Forum, spearheaded by former Senate Presidents, Ken Nnamani, Adolphus Wabara, ex-Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili.

The PDP Reform Forum says it aims to return the party to its founding ideals; re-engineer the party to make it more people-oriented (Peoples Democracy); be more creative in the generation of party funds; streamlining existing parallel structures in PDP states. But the million dollar question is, if these objectives will rid the party of internal monopoly and bullying why should ears of the Reform members be pulled?

Well, the answer is not that simple. The issue goes back to that same “case of dog eat dog”. If you are Nigerian you may understand it… But simply put it is a dirty power tussle characterized by shocking intrigues with no public interest at the heart of the jostlers.

As 2011 polls near, the questionable biggest party in Africa is heading for the rocks. Voters will decide if enough is enough and tear to shreds the alleged wet blanket the PDP has thrown over Nigeria since the country’s return to democratic rule in 1998.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Much A Do About Nothing?

Nigeria's Senate today approved 38 nominees for Acting President Goodluck Jonathan's new cabinet. The list does not include portfolios. That means re-appointed ministers may not necessarily return to their old jobs.

The Nigerian cabinet has more than 40 members, including ministers, ministers of state (junior ministers) and ministers in the presidency. A further list is expected to be sent for Senate approval to complete Jonathan's new team.

Jonathan dissolved the 42-member Cabinet on March 17, about a month after the National Assembly empowered him to become acting president in Yar'Adua's absence. It was seen as an effort to purge top officials loyal to Yar'Adua, though some were included in the new cabinet.

Unlike some thought, the Senate did not drop even a "fly" from the list that was sent to them. Initially there were rumours that some ministers would be dropped given the roles they played in the Yaradua/Goodluck push-and-shove political saga that had engulfed Nigeria since November last year.

Fiery ex-information minister Dora Akunyili was one of the couple that was said to face axing by the senior law makers. One Senator from North West Nigeria argued that she was “certainly not returning as minister.”

Another was ex-planning minister and an ex-Senator Sanusi Daggash, but whom his distinguished colleagues felt he had betrayed and disrespected them by slashing their budget when he was minister. The story was that they would teach him a lesson for what he did.

All the 38 FEC Club members were given the green! The approval did not come to some as a surprise though. After a loud hiss, one Abuja based "siddon-looker" told me, "rubbish, who told you they were going to drop any one on the list?" I asked him why. He replied, "Jamilah, I am shocked. You should know Nigeria better than that!"

I didn't exactly understand what he was insinuating, but what came across very strongly was the lack of excitement and disappointment over the whole ministerial appointment issue. From the look of things, it is an anti-climax to this man.

I hope it won't be for Nigerians.