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We Have A Part To Play To End Fake News In Nigeria – Angus

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Jamie Angus is the Director, BBC World Service Group. In this Interview with KINGSLEY OPURUM, he speaks on how BBC had a real push in countering fake news during Nigeria’s 2019 general election. He also talks about a newly launched weekly television programme called ‘Gist Nigeria,’ which is a co-production between BBC and Channels TV.

Can you talk about the TV programme BBC launched with Channels TV?

Gist Nigeria is our weekly programme. It is a co-production between BBC and Nigeria’s Channels Television. It was launched over six months ago, and the thirty-minute studio-based show focuses on the stories behind the news, with original storytelling and audience interaction via @GistNigeriaTV.

The show’s talented duo, Wale Fakile and Ajoke Lijadu-Ulohotse bring a new perspective to a younger audience.  One particular story which resonated with audiences in Nigeria, involved university graduate Kolade Johnson who was allegedly killed by a police officer attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Gist Nigeria provided deeper insight to the incident following up with more than a mere report. The story broke the silence that usually follows cases of extra-judicial killings in Nigeria and the attention to this story was debated across social media.

It gave the deceased family a platform to seek justice and members of the community came out to protest against the incident.

Gist Nigeria is a fresh current-affairs programme for young Nigerian viewers who want a new, unbiased outlook on their country and want to see how Nigeria compares with other parts of Africa and the rest of the world. Offering in-depth reporting, it focuses on how the stories affect its audience. Gist Nigeria also features stories covered by a selection of the BBC’s African services.

Broadcast from Channels Television’s new studios in Lagos, the programme is produced to the same high standards of journalism and production that audiences around the world expect from the BBC and Channels TV.

We have a number of language services including four different language services here in Nigeria; Hausa, Yoruba, Pidgin and Igbo. We also have English language service here in Nigeria.

We believe that we have a lot to bring to Channels TV and Channels TV has a lot to bring to us, and this is the first we’ve ever done this in Nigeria.

 

What’s the underling rationale behind your four different local language services in Nigeria?

The primary objective is for the world services to grow its audiences as much as possible, to reach as many people as we can with our independent and trusted news. And we know there are certain people here who cannot access the English language service so, for many years now like over 60 years; we have the Hausa language service here in Nigeria, which is a short-wave radio service and lastly, the digital service as well. But we thought by expanding the number of African languages we cover, we cannot only reach new audiences in Nigeria and across West Africa in the case of Pidgin but that we would enhance and better our understanding of Nigerian story by having more journalists on ground here so, we now employ over hundred people in Lagos, and also in Abuja.

We are really significant in employing Nigerian journalists, and that means all we want is better services for our audiences in Nigeria, but we can also tell Nigerian story to the world mainly in English and also in other languages with much great authority and in-depth understanding.

 

Did BBC play any significant part in covering Nigeria’s 2019 general elections?

First of all, we had a real push on countering fake news and disinformation because we know there’s a big fake news problem in Nigeria and an organisation like the BBC, which is trusted and respected, has really an important part to play in improving that. So, we did a lot on countering fake news during the election. Also, in terms of democratic accountability, we held 16 regional governor debates all in Nigerian local languages. We thought it was really important to help reinforce and empower Nigerian democracy but it is absolutely for Nigerians to decide who their leaders will be; BBC is impartial. Our role is to strengthen democracy in Nigeria.

 

Can you tell us about the BBC News Hausa Service short story writing competition?

The BBC News Hausa Service short story writing competition welcomes works of fiction from women writing Hausa and entries should be between 1000-1500 words.   A winner will be selected by an independent panel of judges who will also select two runners up and other works worthy of commendation.  Details of guidelines for the competition this year are available on the BBC Hausa website, bbchausa.com.

The short story writing competition was introduced in 2016 by BBC News Hausa as a way of encouraging women to tell and share their stories.

Last year’s edition was won by SafiyaJubril, a 29-year-old teacher. Her entry, The Girl Child, tells the story of Halima who, going by family tradition is expected to get married at 14 years old.  But she isn’t at 17, and she comes under severe family and societal pressure.

She settles for a man called Garba.  Not long after the marriage, Garba starts to abuse Halima physically and verbally. The marriage ends in divorce but her father would not take her back. Instead, he beats her and cajoles other family members not to take her in. Halima decides to take control of her life by renting a room and doing menial jobs in order to survive. However, the landlord soon learns she is single and decides to evict her.

The first edition was won by Sansanin ’Yan GudunHijira, a story narrating the plight of the victims of the Boko Haram crisis.

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