By Mercy Agok
The scene: A few weeks ago, Bello Lukman-hosted socio-political show on Unity 93.3 FM Jos—Unity train was suspended by the station’s management, for flouting editorial guidelines.
According to the station’s manager, Ahmed Nakande, Lukman, his co-host Pam Dung Kwis, as well as the heads of the marketing and programs department, Rabiu Abdullahi and Rabiu Sabou, who were responsible for monitoring the program, were found wanting for not complying with the policy.
The controversy: Nakande accused the aforementioned of giving free promotions and publicity to individuals and organizations, particularly the Plateau State Inland Revenue Service. However, Lukman argues that “shouts outs are part of media programs, and also, the inland revenue has been a friend of the house and major sponsors of the station, so I see nothing wrong with sending out a congratulatory shout-out to them.”
“Some organizations allow such complimentary gestures especially when the person or company involved is a customer or advertiser. Some other organizations frown at it and see it as giving free adverts to the beneficiaries and depriving the organization of income,” says Taye Obateru, a journalism lecturer at the University of Jos. “Where a presenter does it often, they may be suspected of underhand dealings with the beneficiaries, which is clearly unethical. Every news medium should have a code of ethics or practice to guide their workers on such issues to avoid abuse.”
However, some sources say that beyond the flouting of editorial guidelines, the suspension of the show which has led to the resignation of Lukman might be due to an alleged “toxic and hostile environment”. The popular Jos-based radio host was recently removed from his role as news editor without any prior notice or sanction.
Zoom in: Due to management change at the radio station, the staff is finding it difficult to adjust to new policies that have been enacted by the new manager, Ahmed Nakande, who is the son of Unity FM’s founder, Ibrahim Nakande which is affecting the running of the station. According to sources, the new manager has demanded that all staff members work towards generating funds for the station by bringing in advertisers and sponsors, rather than relying solely on the advertisement and marketing department. This decision has not been well-received by the staff, who accuse Ahmed of being high-handed. As a result of the tension, the station is said to have lost many of its advertisers, sponsors, and listeners.
In view of it misunderstanding with Bello Lukman, industry observers and fans of the station, are closely observing the situation, in the hope that the situation could be resolved before it’s too late.
For instance, sources say that he has required all members of staff should work towards generating funds for the station by bringing advertisers and sponsors. This is a sharp switch from the previous management when this was the responsibility of the advertising and marketing department.
Most of the members of staff are finding it difficult to meet this requirement.
With the shutdown of popular media organizations—including BuzzFeed—amidst the economic downturn, Ahmed’s new marketing approach seems understandable to some media market analysts. However, people close to the station fear that Unity FM might lose advertisers, sponsors, partners, and listeners due to this restructuring.