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How Gov.Kwankwaso ‘Forcefully’ Cornered Wazobia Radio



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Gov Rabiu Kwankwaso
Gov Rabiu Kwankwaso

By Citizen Reporter

The long-standing war between Kano state governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and a popular private radio station in the state, Cool FM Wazobia Radio, has finally ended with the former emerging victorious. The radio house is now about to become the new mouth-piece of his government as, upon his demand, one of his protégés has now been appointed to head the station.

Before now the radio station was perceived to be sympathetic to the opposition parties as it allowed their supporters to air their views, unlike other government-owned media outfits. Shortly after the appointment of his man, Kwankwaso was reported to have triumphantly said: “Na karya sandan! ” which means “I’ve broken the stick!”

“The stick” here refers to a program by the radio station titled Sandan Girma (i.e. Prestigious Walking Stick) which analyzed political and sundry issues of the day, often used by those who wanted to forward their complaints to the state government and those who criticized its policies and programs.

The government’s dislike for the radio station, because of what it regarded as undue criticisms, took a turn for the worse recently when the presenter of the program aired an episode a day or two before the murder by unknown gunmen of nine women and a man who were engaged in the dispensation of polio vaccines to children in the state.

The state government viewed the killing of the women on Friday, February 8, 2013, as having been incited by the program and ordered that the concerned reporter, presenter and head of programs be prosecuted at a Magistrate’s court. Actually, Governor Kwankwaso was said to have insisted that they be charged with ‘culpable homicide’ punishable with death.

In point of fact, the linkage of the offensive program with the polio issue was both circumstantial and political. As the story goes, in the course of their assignment on February 4, 2013 the polio workers visited the home of a man in Tarauni quarters, but he refused to allow his children to be vaccinated. The polio officials insisted on vaccinating the children and a heated argument ensued.

Consequently, the officials reported the matter to the District Head, a hot-headed and short-tempered old man. And as the man in question turned out to be a former aide to the immediate past governor of the state, considered by the government of the day as its foremost adversary, the matter instantly assumed political dimension.

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The District Head, a stalwart of the PDP before his appointment not too long ago, apparently thought this was an opportunity for him to curry favor with the government. He therefore organized a formidable ‘squadron’ on February 5, comprising of the local government’s Interim Management Officer and some party thugs with redcaps (symbol of Kwankwasiyya), to visit the home of the man and force him to submit.

The man, who under the previous government was the controversial Director-General of the state’s Films Censorship Board, unaware of what was in store for him was at that time meeting a reporter from Wazobia Radio. When the District Head’s team arrived they banged violently on the door and demanded that the children be brought out for the vaccination.

Angered by the effrontery, the man refused again and a new altercation began and the reporter on site began to record the proceedings. Before you could say “goruba” or “guiguya,” the District Head ordered that the reporter be beaten up and he even allegedly personally struck the boy with his “sandan girma” – prestigious walking stick!

This unprovoked ferocious attack on the reporter and seizure of his tape recorder, which was taken to the governor’s residence and all contents deleted, was what angered his superiors and prompted airing of the program that was equally ferocious on the District Head.

As the two journalists were being prosecuted (the head of programs was subsequently let off the hook), it was a big surprise in town when it was reported that the presenter had been suspended by the Lagos-based management of the radio station, said to be owned by some Lebanese.

In sympathy, the head of station, head of programs and a few other journalists also tendered their resignations, citing mounting pressures and interference by the state government. He said the management unfortunately caved in to the pressures because they were threatened that their Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) would be revoked if they did not take drastic action against the journalists. But the most unacceptable thing to them, he added, was the management’s acceptance of the proposal by government that its representative be appointed to censor the programs of the radio station.

What was even more surprising to the public was the immediate acceptance of the resignations of the two senior staff by the cowed management and its prompt replacement of the head of station with a nominee of the state governor who was his director of press.

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In effect, the men managing Wazobia Radio station have shown to the world that they are lily-livered and naive, who could not stand up for their employees in their most-trying moment, the type of labor employers that no one prays to work for. What they did not know is that Kwankwaso ( ga tsoro ga ban tsoro!) is himself cowardly. He did not mean it; if they had exerted a little resistance or shown that they could not be cowed by him, he would back up.

This kind of thing happened during his first term (1999-2003) when Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the current governor of the Central Bank, criticized his government for its reckless expenditure on the construction of the Kano liaison office in Abuja. The governor threatened his employers, as Sanusi was then the risk manager of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), that he would withdraw government’s accounts from the bank if they did not sack him.

The bank’s courageous management, obviously protector of its workers’ dignity better than that of Wazobia, did nothing of the sort and dared him to do his worse. It was then that Kwankwaso realized that he did not look before he leapt and that he was such a toothless bulldog. That is how employers should be seen to stand up for those who work for them.

Certainly, there is not an iota of doubt whatsoever that the culprit presenter and the head of programs are among the most hardworking journalists that have made the station what it is today. The said program, now shelved, was definitely one of the most sought-after by listeners in Kano who gathered around their radio sets every night to listen to it.

Now that the station has been handed over to the state government on a platter of gold, its lily-livered management may realize, perhaps when it is too late, that it has lost thousands of listeners to other stations as the people dislike listening to government bulletins, which are mostly propaganda and tissues of lies that are they are typically averse to.

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