Niran Malaolu: From Gallow To Glory… Portrait of an Enigmatic Super AchieverHe waded through life in difficulty, but with prayers, commitment, perseverance, and belief in God, he trudges on in life until things turned around for his own good.
Niran Malaolu, Chief Executive Officer, Rockycity FM, Abeokuta, Ogun State is a man of destiny, who was visited with the vicissitudes of life before fortune smiled on him.
After weathering several teething problems, ranging from political to economic, Rockcity FM Radio is today a success story after seven years of establishment.
But Malaolu, journalist and human rights activist, its chief promoter said the beginning was not only rough, but tough.
But he was undaunted by the challenges which he said served as invigorating tonic that spurred him in his determination to establish the pioneer private radio station in the state.
Malaolu, former commissioner for Information and Strategy, in Ogun State, under the erstwhile Otunba Gbenga Daniel-led administration reflects on the journey so far and expressed gratitude to God who saw him through the start up.
How has it been, seven years after your radio station pioneered private broadcasting in Ogun State?
To God be the glory. Well so far so good, we started December 22, 2008. It was not very easy because of the political environment we were operating then. You are aware of what happened, we were bullied, we were harassed, we were disturbed, at a point and they brought in caterpillars to destroy the buildings from which we were operating. But we give glory to God Almighty, because not that it is the journey that prevails decency, public ethics and decision is there to deal with. We are a public licensed radio station, we believe in bringing decency to the conduct of public affairs, to report truly, without any fear of evil. That was what we were doing and some people didn’t like it, there was nothing we were going to do about that. We are not reporting to any man or institution, we are reporting to the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the people of Ogun State, they have a right to know and that is what we did, we are doing and will continue to do at all times.
At what point did you decide to establish this radio, bearing in mind that there were two other radio stations in the state capital?.
I have always been in love with radio, I have been in love with the media. The only thing I can do if not doing journalism is probably teaching or farming. So people asked me, why radio? Why not newspaper? That people know me as a newspaper person. Fine, I studied Mass-communication, with radio, print and television.
So for me, the first thing I did was to conduct a research which revealed that the people here prefer to listen to radio to television or newspaper. That is why if a newspaper brings about 500 copies to this place, it will return 400 copies or so unsold. You and I know that. So I said okay if it is something audio that they are going to attend to, what sort of radio station they will want to listen to. So from the survey, we were able to pin-point that out. After everything, we put things together and used it for our programming and as soon as we began, we became the darling station of everybody. Since they know that they are going to hear the truth, good music and right information and we are not compromising on that even uptill now.
Yes, the radio station was the darling of the people, but does it still retain its popularity among the listening populace?
We are still the voice of the people!. Our philosophy has never changed and it will never changed towards the people, which is to deliver the best news at the appropriate time and people have been tuning in to listen to the station and we have programmes that allow the people to talk. In this station, we don’t talk, but rather, we allow the people to do the talking and make the world listen to the voice of the people.
So, this is the only reason that allow people to express themselves, socially, politically and say what they want to say, so far there are no abuses, in decency and infringement of peoples fundmental human rights while expressing opinions. People are the real owner of democracy; they have the right to it and there is nobody that is going to stop them, once what they are saying does not impugn on the freedom of others, nobody will, say it doesn’t belong to them. As a matter of policy, we don’t censor calls, we don’t care whose ox is gored. We believe in Nigeria and that is what we are doing and people love it. We have upgraded our equipment so that people can now listen to us better even across the western Nigeria.
I am usually delighted to hear people calling from far and near just to partake in what is going on air particularly our programme in the morning, the Day Break Show. I used to know someone who lived in Badagry, we went to China and he said he wanted to know what is going on and he used to go online and listen to us. He once told me that if he doesn’t listen to Rock-city in a day, it is like he is dead. It is becoming more of a habit. It is not about ourselves, but about the people. I have lived in the US and UK, I have taught in both countries and am still baffled about what they have in media in their place.
You don’t have an opinion, it is the people. When you say this government and that that has gone by, we are still where we are, it is the perception of those ones. They think we are against them, but we are not against them, we are only telling them the truth. It is our duty to tell them the truth whether they like it or not. The real definition for news is that news is that thing someone wants to kill all the rest is advertisement.
How did you raise the initial capital to finance the establishment of the Rockcity FM?
I borrowed money from the bank because I didn’t have enough capital then. I was earning N135,000 per month, I think this can be attributed to the trust the banks have in me.
It is the thinking of many people that your radio fought the then PDP’s administration in the state to a standstill in order to pave way for the new government. Is this radio not a pro-APC?
Not at all. This is an independent radio station. The APC people are even complaining, so if it is pro-APC, they won’t be complaining. What we do is what we do. We are neither APC, PDP nor any other. We are for the people and not for any political party or government in power or outside power.
What is your reaction to the failure of some media owners, including electronic who could not pay their staff salaries?
That can never happen in our radio. Let me tell you something, here, we put our money where our mouth is. We believe that welfare of the staff is very important. So, we ensure that salary of our staff are paid as at when due and we do a lot of training. We bring in people from every part of the country to train them. For us, it is not just a business, it is a calling. Character like I used to say is a submission of what a man does when no one is looking. So, how can we not pay who are working for us and expect them to do well on their duty posts?. That is hypocrisy, we don’t do that. However, as it seems, I don’t want to believe that a serious organization who has failed to pay its workers. For us here, we ensure that our workers are paid and then, we know what we are doing.
As at know, you will see in other organizations, let’s look at newspaper for an instance, the social media are eating up into the audiences of the newspapers, so because of that, newspapers will not be selling or they will not be selling as much as they do and that will affect income and salary. I have seen something like that happened in places like the US or UK and it is that the newspapers themselves have now gone into the social media, but to get money back on social media is very difficult, because the money goes to those who provide the internet, not to the newspapers, but what is been sent popularly is the academia in the US or UK is that they have a new earning model. You see, we cannot afford to lose the media, because if we do that, democracy is gone. We need a good media to ensure the continuous progress of democratic practice, if you don’t have it, then the country is gone.
Media, I will say in Nigeria has a lot of shortcomings, in the sense that the 36 states of the federation, with the FCT and the federal government make budget, but nobody actually look at those budget to see if those budget are balanced or not and that is where government responsibility is. We the media are not doing that, all we do is he said, I said, there are no thorough investigations. Yes, we set agenda, but many times we do follow up issues and stories.
How do you access the media, vis-à-vis the coverage of the last general elections?
The Nigerian press have the tradition of been very active when it comes to some certain socio-political and economic events and this time around it didn’t fail. We performed very well, but in guiding the process and ensuring it delivers quality services, we are not doing enough. Government make budgets, it is a statement of income and expenditure, what they are going to do, who questions it? For whatever reason which is best known to you and me, the National Assembly does not do check on budgement execution. It is the duty of the press to take every line of the budget one by one and report to the respective government at all levels. One of the problems we have here is that the local governments are not working, that is why we think democracy is not working. How many roads are tarred by the local governments in Nigeria every year? I can tell you none, that is what is really going on and that is the problem. It is the job of the media to hold them accountable to the people.
The non-performance of local government administration in Nigeria has been blamed on the alleged interference of state government through the operation of Joint Allocation Account. What is your opinion about this?.
The third tier of government is an elective governance just as executive, so it should be autonomous in decision making. It should be able to go to court when its leadership disagrees with the state government on issues. Although in Nigeria, they are scared of doing this, but someone has to bear the cards.
They don’t want to do it and they go to church and mosque and we want God to answer our prayers? Who does this?. I think what is most important is character. If you fail your people as a local government chairman, because you are afraid, but you are not afraid to collect their money, put it is in your pocket and spend it, then something is wrong.
If the local government works, then Nigeria will be a better place and of course, people will not even remember the name of the President, this is because they will say oh okay, he is the President, I don’t know. Like they say in America, all what the people care about is their mayor, they care about their reps in the local council. This is because they don’t have anything to do with their governor or president, but specifically, with their Mayor. Because he provides them with road, light and other social amenities needed by them.
Source: The Sun