Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The BBC and Nigeria

I had this letter from the Head of Global News at the Beeb today (I'd complained about lack of coverage of the change in Nigeria):

Dear Dr Weate

Thank you very much for your E Mail to Helen Boaden of 24 November, which has been passed through to me. I completely agree with you that Nigeria is going through a very interesting stage of development politically and economically at the moment. It is also a very important market for the BBC World Service with over 21 million weekly listeners in Hausa and English.

I am not quite sure which part of the BBC’s coverage your complaint refers to. Our dedicated English output for Africa, particularly Network Africa, Focus on Africa and Africa, Have Your Say cover Nigeria in detail every week. Just to give you a few examples of our coverage on Focus on Africa over the last week – we have reported on Governor Alamieyeseigha’s expulsion from the PDP, the controversial carnival in Abuja and the court finding against the former Head of the Nigerian Police. We have interviewed the Bayelsa Governor himself about his return to Nigeria, the Chairman of the Judicial Committee of the Nigerian House of Representatives and Nuhu Ribadu, Head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. We have also talked to Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and Charles Soludo, Governor of the Central Bank recently on debt forgiveness and the recapitalisation of banks. Africa Have Your Say was presented from Abuja last week.

The Hausa Service of course pays even more detailed attention to Nigeria including economic stories and has covered the privatisation of Nepa and the recapitalisation of Nigerian banks in detail. Last week for example they focussed on the Bank of the North with the outgoing Managing Director insisting they would meet the Central Bank’s deadline to recapitalise.

The Africa/Middle East Region has strong reporting teams in both Lagos and Abuja working to Jamilah Tangaza who is responsible for output in both English and Hausa. Jamilah and her team are in the process of moving to a larger office in Abuja which will enable us to do more live production from Nigeria as well as be co-sited with the BBC World Service Trust which is working on a number of projects focussing on media for development.

As for the wider BBC, a search on the BBC news website on the word Nigeria produces over 200 stories which were filed recently and we have plans for both our Newshour team and our Religious Programmes to go to Nigeria in the next few months to record programmes.

However there is no doubt that our coverage has suffered as we have been without a Lagos correspondent for several months this year. The situation will improve when Alex Last starts early in the New Year with a brief to get stories from Nigeria covered across all BBC news outlets. We are also due to open a new West Africa reporter post in Accra shortly in order to improve our coverage of West Africa as a whole, including of course Nigeria. Nigeria remains one of the minority of countries in the world where the BBC maintains a permanent bureau and this will remain the case.

Once these two key posts are in place, I am confident that our coverage of Nigeria will improve across the whole of our news coverage. If you would like to visit our Abuja office I know our Editor Jamilah Tangaza would be delighted to talk to you about our coverage in more depth.

Kind regards

Richard Sambrook
Director, Global News Division


Anonymous,  5:08 am  

3 cheers for Jeremy! Nice work!

Wouldn't it be fantastic if we had a CNN/Al Jazeera type of 24 hour satellite channel that focused on Africa reporting in a very objective manner and highlighting the positve stories that never get heard in the Western media...

Nkem 1:47 am  

The key phrase is "to get stories from Nigeria covered across all BBC news outlets". I thought it was a bit odd that Helen Boaden sent the email to Richard Sambrook, because Nigeria stories are covered on the World Service, Focus, Network and the like. It's in the UK that the coverage is non-existent. Hope Alex Last's starting changes things.

Anonymous,  1:12 am  

i'm an expat student journalist living in nigeria and am wondering where the bbc's abuja bureau is located/contact information for jamilah tangaza. can't seem to find much online. if you know of anything, pls let me know.
[email protected]

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