Getting Nigeria talking
Head of Factual, BBC Media Action Nigeria
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.
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.
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 years.
"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!