The three media houses owned by the Kwara State government have shut down operations over poor working condition.
The media houses included Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation (Radio Kwara), Kwara State Television Authority and Kwara State Printing and Publishing Corporation, publishers of The Herald titles.
While operations at two radio stations, AM and FM of Radio Kwara and Kwara Television had remained epileptic, two editions of The Herald Newspapers, which hitherto produced four times in a week had been skipped, leaving it with two.
Workers in the affected media houses today (Wednesday 5, 2018) down tooled in protest against poor condition of service, low morale and nonchalance of government.
Some of the workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, decried situation in the media establishments, saying government has not funded their operations as expected.
A staff of Radio Kwara specifically told our correspondent that both AM and FM stations on the state owned radio have been running halfhearted due to government apparent neglect.
Findings at The Herald Newspaper also revealed that its management had to reduce number of editions produced weekly on accounts of nonavailability of fund.
Meanwhile, staff of the Kwara State Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Kwara, earlier in the morning held a peaceful protest within the premises of the station over poor working condition and lack of necessary working equipment.
It was learnt that the workers also held the protest over the insinuations going round that government is planning to sell the broadcasting house at number two Police road, GRA, Ilorin which has been in existence for over four decades.
During the peaceful protest, the staff of the Kwara State Television Authority and Kwara State Printing and Publishing Corporation, the Publisher of the Herald newspapers joined their counterparts at Radio Kwara in solidarity to their plights.
The Staff carried different placards with the inscriptions ” We reject Sole Administrator “, A.M station must exist, Government must not sell Radio Kwara”, We need modern equipment at Radio Kwara”, Radio Kwara will remain shut until government addresses the challenges”.
It was learnt that the state government in its determination to reposition the three media houses appointed a sole administrator in 2015 for a period of three months and extended with another period of three months, but up till now the sole administrator which is alien to the rules and regulations guiding the media houses still exist which had caused set back to the media Houses.
Our correspondent learnt that government had injected millions of naira into the three media houses for the repositioning exercise, but nothing to show for it.
It was gathered that Radio Kwara which houses both the A.M and F.M stations have been shutting down for months, operating skeletal services due to lack of diesel to power the generating sets, while government is owing the station about three months running cost with last year’s outstanding running cost of about four months.
The workers expressed their grievances by calling on the government to immediately terminate the appointment of sole administrator which they alleged has been living large and benefiting from the repositioning exercise.
According to them, the lives of staff are at risk with the stations environment bushy, while reptiles have taken over the stations, adding that on Wednesday last week a snake was killed inside the live studio of the A.M studio.
One of the staff of the station that spoke with our correspondent on a condition of anonymity said ” The State Government is planning to evacuate the staff from the Broadcasting House to Budo Efo transmitting studio. This Budo Efo always affect the mental of those working their and cause deformity as a result of radiation of the old transmitter and the antenna . If you notice, some of the staff posted to Budo are childless and some cannot perform very well. It reduces the sperm count”.
” The last option given to us is to transfer all the staff to Budo Efo particularly to enable them sell the Radio Kwara AM Land. As we speak, the Land surrounding Radio Kwara TWO Midland FM has been sold. Since KWIRS, the revenue body has taken over our revenue, to buy diesel to power the station is a problem, that is why both AM and FM stations are running skeletal transmission always. This is responsible to the challenges facing the three media houses “, he said further.
Another staff said ” The Sole Administrator, Dr. Muyideen Akorede has destroyed the station through his shoddy repositioning since 2015. He has totally destroyed the three media houses, thereby denting the image of government especially at this critical period when 2019 election is close”
“Akodere always shortchange our GM by not releasing monthly running cost to our management to run the station since the state government has taken over our IGR. Virtually all Departments in Radio Kwara lack Working facilities and tools including the Newsroom. They have perfected plans to kill AM frequency and concentrate on Midland FM 99.0 at Apata Yukuba Ilorin. The same FM is also dying, the station is always off air, while the staff had been demoralized”, she said.
She added that ” there is always delay in payment of meager salaries of the workers”.
One of the staff identified as Ibrahim said ” The State government officials including Akorede are now patronizing private radio stations in the state paying huge amount to feature on their programmes living Radio Kwara dying. All the staff have been demoralized and discouraged”.
” We are staging this protest not because of us but because of future of Radio Kwara and Kwara State. Akorede in the name of repositioning the station received millions of naira and diverted it to his pocket. It is no longer news that Radio Kwara parades competent and qualified personnel and interesting Media Contents, but crippled with lack of equipment and funding “.
A Union leader said the three media houses had written to the Ministry of Information and Communication, the mother ministry, met with the Secretary to the State Government, Nigeria Labour Congress leadership in the state and other key stakeholders on the need to address the deplorable conditions of the media houses, but since the meeting held in early this year, nothing reasonable has been done.
At the Herald, the station that always published on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday had reduced its publication period to only Monday and Friday due to lack of funding, while the environment of the newspaper that used to be the best newspaper in the North Central is like mechanical workshop.
Meanwhile, government has sent its delegates to meet with the aggrieved workers of the three media houses. Among those sent include, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Labour Matters, Comrade Bisi Fakayode, the NLC Chairman, Comrade Yekin Agunbiade, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Alhaji Mohammed Isiaq Sabi and the directors of the ministry with the call on the striking workers to call off the industrial action.
But the striking workers remained adamant despite the call and appeal by the government delegates to call off the industrial action, demanding for the immediate sack of the sole administrator and the Governor to visit the stations to examine the dilapidated structure of the three media houses.