Spirit of Nigeria Radio is aimed at bridging the information gap between Nigeria and its citizens in the diaspora. It is also designed as a platform to celebrate Nigerians in the diaspora.
The station, which transmits from Lagos, is renowned for its hardcore Nigerian news and current affairs programmes spiced with strictly Nigerian Music.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the brain behind Spirit of Nigeria Radio, Toye Arulogun, speaks about the uniqueness of his station.
PT: What is the inspiration behind Spirit of Nigeria Radio and the choice of the name?
Arulogun: Spirit of Nigeria Radio was borne out of a strong desire to bridge the information gap between Nigeria and its citizens in the diaspora. The need for an authentic source of information was the prime motivation for the concept in this era of misinformation, disinformation, fake news, negative news, and the bad reputation of our dear country in most parts of the world. The Spirit of Nigeria Radio project is driven by a patriotic zeal that says to the world that there are more positives than negatives that deserve projection in and around brand Nigeria. We need to tell our own story by sending out our narratives and not defined by the narratives of the western or imperialist media. It is also designed as a platform to celebrate Nigerians in the diaspora.
PT: It’s a little over eight months since you launched the station. How has the response been?
Arulogun: In the sixty days of going live, Spirit of Nigeria Radio has been very well accepted by its core target of Nigerians between the ages of 25 and 65 who live and work in the diaspora. Nigerians in the diaspora believe in Spirit of Nigeria Radio as their own platform to connect with Nigeria and reach out to fellow countrymen and women in the diaspora. More importantly, they recognise and engage it as their own voice to proffer solutions to the challenges facing the nation, contribute to national development and share experiences on living and working in the diaspora. In addition to the sense of patriotism that the station exudes, the strictly Nigerian music policy attracts a high listenership because Nigerians in the diaspora connect with home through the music.
PT: I know it might be a little too early to ask but do you have any highpoints yet?
Arulogun: Certainly, there have been highpoints since we commenced broadcasting to Nigerians in the diaspora. We transmitted live the full content of the National Diaspora Day celebration by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission which was capped by an interview with its CEO. We have interviewed more Nigerians in Diaspora within our first sixty days than any radio station. This list is a long one and we are talking of Nigerians doing exceedingly well in the Diaspora across continents.
Our celebration of the 23rd memorial anniversary of the late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was a ten-hour delight that gave us one of the highest listenership figures across the globe.
Spirit of Nigeria Radio is the first media house to interview Victor Agunbiade, the Nigerian in the US Navy who received an exemplary accountability commendation for accounting for 45 million USD without a cent unaccounted for. After that interview, six media houses, three universities, and NIDCOMM reached out to him.
In the same vein, Ola Sanni, an award-winning realtor in Chicago has spoken to us. Also , Yomi Faparusi, the Nigerian contesting for a Senate seat in the state of Tennessee in the US, was unique as he reached out to Nigerians in the diaspora to support his bid and made a case for active participation of Nigerians in global politics. Quite a number of others are available in the audio archive section on our website.
Similarly, Tolu Akande – Sadipe , the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora, has shared her activities with us in a long conversation on Weekend Nigeria and the African Union approved our discourse with Esther Titilayo Akinlabi, Director Pan African University for Life and Health Sciences Institute on the 9th of September which was African Union Day. It is instructive that we had to do a formal letter which was approved before she could grant us an audience to discuss and promote the African Union.
Currently, Nigerian Diaspora organisations are reaching out to us for partnership and collaboration. Nigerian businesses in the Nigerian and African Food sector as well as the financial services sector, especially funds transfer platforms are beginning to engage us for promotional partnerships. For a young web-based radio station, these are some of our modest highpoints.
PT: Any peculiar challenges you would like to share with us?
Arulogun: The peculiar challenge right now is operating with the different time zones across the world. When it is morning in some corner of the world, elsewhere it is night. Therefore, we need to be sensitive about what we say and play music-wise during different days. Of course, we have solved this with a 24-hour rotation that caters to different needs at different times across continents. Technology also enables us to maneuver easily.
PT: According to your station profile, you aim to inform and inspire Nigerians in the diaspora. Why so? How about Nigerians living in Nigeria?
Arulogun: Every brand must carve its niche; a set of people it caters for. Spirit of Nigeria radio is designed for and targeted at Nigerians in the diaspora. Nigerians in Nigeria have access and can listen. However, they are not the core target of the SNR brand. Interestingly, the genesis of Spirit of Nigeria radio was the desire to establish a Nigeriancentric radio station in Atlanta given the huge population of Nigerians in the locale. However, a superior argument was that with an internet radio station, we would not only reach Nigerians in Atlanta but all over the world from anywhere in the world. And voila the birth of Spirit of Nigeria radio. Let me emphasise that there is a multitude of radio stations in Nigeria addressing the radio needs of Nigerians in Nigeria. Spirit of Nigeria Radio is a diaspora focussed media platform serving as the authentic source of Nigerian information. Like we say on air, we bring Nigerians in Diaspora Up To Speed.
PT: There is so much debate about diaspora voting. Last year, INEC said Nigeria wasn’t ripe for diaspora voting. What’s your station’s stance on this issue and have you addressed this on any of your shows?
Arulogun: Nigeria Diaspora Votes Matter is a campaign on Spirit of Nigeria Radio. We believe that the time is ripe and therefore championing a campaign for it. We are in touch with the House Committee Chairman on Diaspora, Tolu Akande – Sadipe, and has given the assurance that the bill will be presented to the house. A lot of Nigerians in the diaspora long to be part of the electoral process like fellow Diasporans who vote during elections in their countries. For the over 17 million Nigerians in the diaspora whose remittances amount to about 6% of our GDP, 80% of our budget, and function as the “social service” of our nation, they deserve the right to vote. Spirit of Nigeria Radio is pursuing this objective positively working with the relevant stakeholders and authorities. We can begin from presidential elections for example. Technology is available for deployment. The appropriate legislation is in the works. If some African countries are doing it right, why not the giant of Africa? It would be a disservice to Nigerians in diaspora if we continue to exclude them from voting in Nigerian elections. Our media platform is poised to support this noble objective.
PT: Your show ‘Diaspora Discourse’ seems to be quite popular. Tell us more about the show
Arulogun: Nigerians in the diaspora want a voice of their own. They want to share experiences, they want to contribute to nation-building. They have expertise worthy of contribution to national development. Being in a foreign land is restrictive. They now have a “voice” to their desires and aspirations through the SNR brand. Trust Nigerians, we love to talk. We are very expressive and have great ideas and competence. What we have done is to create a daily platform for conversations with Nigerians in the Diaspora. We have acquired a long list of interviewees who either have spoken to us or waiting to talk to us. It is their medium of connecting with home and others in the diaspora. Diaspora Discourse is a flagship programme that gives traction to the SNR Philosophy of positive Nigerian energy. On the programme, we celebrate Nigerians in the diaspora.
PT: Tell us about your other flagship shows
Arulogun: Other flagship programme blocks are New Day Nigeria, Nigeria Today which is basically hardcore news and current affairs programming in the SNR peculiar style of free, easy flowing delivery as Nigerians in diaspora do not want us to be too serious. Weekend Nigeria, Spirit of Nigeria Sunday, Real Talk with Lawler are the weekend treat delivered in a more relaxed mood. Real Talk with Lawler is by a South African-based Nigerian Lola Bade – Aluko and she focuses on how Nigerians and Africans in general cope with the challenges of living abroad. It also provides the opportunity for foreigners who are married to Nigerians to share their experiences. It is a very very popular programme.
Spirit of Nigeria plays strictly Nigerian Music and that is a major attraction for Nigerians in the diaspora as it creates the opportunity for nostalgia and reminiscences as well as keeping them up to speed with the current music. We have designed a daily theme for the music belt. Monday is for Female Nigerian Artistes, Tuesday is Highlife Music, Wednesday is Afrobeat, Thursday is Juju Music, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are Naija Party flavour. In essence, you have the opportunity to choose what and when you want to listen to Spirit of Nigeria Radio.
PT: Will you say your station has so far been able to bridge the authentic information gap between Nigeria and its citizens in the diaspora?
Arulogun: That is left to the audience to judge. It is a bit too early though. Our first quarter appraisal will reveal if we are living up to our promise of being the authentic source of Nigerian information to Nigerians in the diaspora. Suffice it to say that we are committed to bringing Nigerians in the diaspora up to speed.
PT: Please tell us more about the 60 Nigeria@60 Diaspora Icons?
Arulogun: One of the key objectives of Spirit of Nigeria Radio is to celebrate Nigerians in the diaspora who are shinning bright the Nigerian light, flying high the Nigerian flag, and “representing” the nation as worthy ambassadors. From day one, on the 1st of July 2020 therefore, we embarked on a search for 60 Nigerians, groups, teams, organisations or associations who exemplify the qualities described earlier through nominations by Nigerians at home and in the diaspora. It is our way of celebrating Nigeria’s Diaspora Icons as part of the 60th Independence anniversary celebrations of our great nation. Nominations have been pouring in and we certainly will get 60 Nigeria@60 Diaspora Icons that we can use to project brand Nigeria in shoring up the reputation deficit of our dear country. We are amazed at the quantity and quality of nominations which prove that brand Nigeria is not all about the negative narratives in the global media space. The project will change the narrative in telling the Nigerian story. We are convinced that it will serve as a veritable content base for projecting positively Nigeria at 60.
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