By Jibrin Baba Ndace
In the hushed corridors of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), a narrative of change and renewed hope unfolded under the warm embrace of the October sun when I was appointed Director-General/CEO of the media agency by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, on October 20, 2023, marking the beginning of a transformative journey within the Nigerian international broadcasting corporation.
The handover ceremony from my predecessor, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, was more than a ceremonial passing of the baton. Stepping into leadership on October 23, 2023, the canvas of change began to take shape during my attendance at AFRICAST 2023 in Lagos. It was during this visit that I paid a visit to the Broadcasting House in Ikoyi and the Ikorodu Transmitting Station which served as poignant reminders of untapped potential, urging a commitment to revitalization.
Returning to the heart of VON, the Corporate Headquarters in Abuja, told its own story—a tale woven with threads of promise and challenge. The deplorable state of infrastructure in Lagos reverberated through the echoing hallways of Abuja, creating a stark reality that demanded immediate attention and a resolute commitment to transformation.
Even in the the situation at the Lugbe Transmitting Station in Abuja, a glimmer of innovation emerged through its commendable solar power facility. VON, it was evident, held promise, but it needed a guiding hand to restore its vigor.
Yet, beyond the tangible structures and facilities, the true heartbeat of VON lay within its people. A pervasive low staff morale lingered in both Abuja and Lagos, fueled by unmet claims and promotion arrears. This challenge became the rallying cry for immediate attention and a strategic vision for a brighter future.
Organically, imperatives emerged—a blueprint for transformation. Boosting staff morale became a mission entwined with improved welfare initiatives, regular promotions, and a cultural shift that celebrated excellence. The synergy among the Board of Management staff emerged as the adhesive binding the threads of transformation.
Active participation at the 42nd UNESCO General Conference in Paris and the World Radio Conference in Dubai were not mere formalities but windows into global possibilities. These experiences became platforms to showcase VON’s commitment to international standards and collaborations, laying the groundwork for a globally relevant institution.
The inaugural Board of Management meeting on December 19, 2023, was not just about discussions; it was the laying of a foundation for collaborative strategies that would steer VON towards its objectives.
Engaging with the Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, defending budgets before both Senate and House Committees, and a courtesy call on the Hon. Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, transcended bureaucratic rituals. They became the building blocks of partnerships, forging alliances that would secure support and understanding.
Engagements with public and private agencies—Thunderbird, Image Merchants Promotions Limited, SMEDAN, GOTNI, NIPR, NUJ Chairman in Minna, and representatives from Dangote Group, Jaiz Bank —were not just courtesy visits. They were conversations that opened doors, created bridges, and fostered connections vital for VON’s relevance in the broader societal landscape.
The series of courtesy calls, including those to Media Trust, National Orientation Agency, News Agency of Nigeria, Nigerian Diaspora Commission, and Nigeria Television Authority, along with high-profile military leaders, showcased a commitment to repositioning the brand and giving it the spotlight it deserves.
Within the first 100 days, I declared that all NYSC and interns at VON must undergo an orientation program, fostering a sense of belonging throughout their stay. Additionally, strategic partnerships with the Guards Polo Club and the CEOS network Africa were initiated, redirecting attention to the external broadcasting station of Nigeria.
And amidst all this, the stories from the heart of VON—the views of its staff—resonated with optimism. The focus on revitalizing the dormant terrestrial broadcast, addressing equipment deterioration, and seeking government intervention for the Lugbe Transmitting Station showcased a leadership dedicated to overcoming challenges and ensuring VON’s prominence.
As we reflect on these initial 100 days, the narrative echoes a journey underway, a story of resilience and transformation. Challenges have metamorphosed into pillars of change, and strategic initiatives are carving a path toward a future where VON stands not only as a fulfiller of mandates but as a beacon of excellence in the global media landscape. The journey continues, and as the sun sets on these first 100 days, it rises on a new dawn for the Voice of Nigeria.
Mallam Jibrin Baba Ndace is the Director General/CEO of Voice of Nigeria – VON, The Official International Broadcasting Station of Nigeria.