Gaddafi Abubakar, Radio in Northern Nigeria: A History of Propaganda, 1944-1979

In Northern Nigeria, radio was primarily introduced to meet the propaganda and cultural needs of a colonial regime. The region has the lowest literacy rate, yet, has the highest radio listenership in the country. In Nigeria like elsewhere, different governments have different policies and ideological directions. Therefore, the nature of the propaganda put in place in radio varied from government to government. In the colonial period, radio was used to propagate British colonial policies and its cultural needs. When Nigeria achieved its independence from the British in 1960, the focus of radio in the region was turned to the protection of the “Sacred North”, its culture and worldview. During the Nigeria’s Civil War, 1967-1970, all the radio stations in the country except for those that were in the rebel controlled Eastern Region fully supported the war effort of the Federal Government. They countered the intense propaganda produced by the Biafran propaganda machinery and forcefully supported the government’s handling of the war.  With the Civil War over in 1970, the Federal Military Government launched its 3Rs (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation) Programme. The main objective of this effort was to achieve national integration, and to realize this, large portion of the population must be reached. This can only be possible through the radio. Since then, radio has become the main mobilizing tool in Northern Nigeria. It is used in times of peace and in times of war. It has recorded many successes for its patrons from drumming support during the Biafran war to literacy and family planning campaigns. It is against this background that this study holds out to answer the following question:

  •     Why was radio introduced in Northern Nigeria by the British Colonial Government?
  •     Did radio serve its purpose of establishment during the colonial period?
  •     In what ways radio was used to suppress the Nationalists struggle and how did they dealt with it to promote their cause during the Independence struggle in Northern Nigeria?
  •     How the first independent Northern Regional Government did employed radio to further its agenda?
  •     To what extent radio was used as a propaganda tool in the north during the Nigeria’s Civil War?
  •     What was the role of radio in the effort of national integration after the civil war?
  •     What was the role of radio on the issue of peace and security after 1979?

The research will place emphasis on the investigation of primary sources. Interviews will be conducted in addressing some of the research problems. There are also a lot of recorded radio interviews, music and programs in the libraries of the major radio stations in the North that will be explored in this research. These media files will provide firsthand material for analysis.

Researcher supervising: 
External supervisors: 
Dr Stefano Bellucci, Leiden University
Project status: 
Ongoing
Countries, location: