By Abraham Olatokunbo
United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has explained the reason for it collaboration with the Italian Agency for Development Corporation and Agate Multimedia Concepts to create a radio drama series “Wakabout.”
Wakabout Series, which has been airing on six radio stations across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. including Bronze 101.5 FM, Benin City, Edo state, every Tuesday at 1:40pm, Caritas 98.7 FM, Enugu at 5:30 pm every Friday, Dala 88.5 FM, Kano at 7:30 am every Saturday, Albarka 99.7FM, Bauchi at 8:30 am every Saturday, SMA 104.7 (Lagos and Ijebu Ode) at 9:15 every Saturday and Armed Forces Radio 107.7, Abuja, is to dissuade Nigerians from irregular migration.
A press release by the National Information Officer of United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Dr. Oluseyi Soremekun titled: “Curbing The Menace of Irregular Migration: UNESCO, Italian Agency Reach Out Through WAKABOUT Radio Drama Series”, that the drama series has become important to draw the message home that irregular migration is exploitative and can be best described as modern day slavery.
The statement read that migration as a phenomenon takes places for various reasons but it becomes a cause for worry when it takes place in an irregular manner, and this is what has become endemic in our modern-day society.
Irregular migration lis prompted by desperation and possibly done through illegitimate means, many Nigerians and citizens from other developing countries of the world, in the quest for greener pastures, defy all legal ways to ensure they migrate to countries where they believe they can have new and improved lease of lives, particularly to Europe.
The statement said findings have shown that members of human trafficking syndicates lure people, sometimes, relatives and close acquaintances who have some trust in them to pull them out of harrowing living conditions only for the greener pasture seekers to know, on arrival at their destinations, that they have been deceived.
They therefore end up in slavery and cheap labour.
In this process, thousands of women have been lured into sexual exploitation within Italy, Spain and the Netherlands while others have been subjected to involuntary domestic servitude.
The statement regretted that even with the massive and somewhat strategic efforts been made by the conventional media at reporting the cases of the large number Nigerians in this situation in various countries abroad who are yearning to return home, which involves the narration of personal dehumanizing experiences of rescued victims, the phenomenon has been on the increase still.
This increase, many have attributed to the harsh economic situation and the biting living conditions of Nigerians in their homeland; coupled with the unfounded belief that better living conditions are guaranteed outside the shores of Nigeria.
It thus, however, becomes imperative for creation of avenues for information sharing and informed debate on the issue.
This is what informed the initiative of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) with the support of the Italian Agency for Development Corporation to reach out to the public, particularly the low class who are the most vulnerable.
It is in employing viable and most effective means of getting the public enlightened and informed that a radio drama series tagged WAKABOUT was birthed.
The issue is far beyond what could be perceived or assumed on the peripheral; there are several underlying issues that catalyse cases of migration and in properly addressing the issue, via whatever medium, the fundamental causes have to be properly understood.
The collaboration of UNESCO and the Italian Agency for Development Corporation thus formed a synergy with Agate Multimedia Concepts, a media and Theatre Production Company, adopting the medium of radio drama to speak to Nigerians particularly on the dangers of irregular migration.
The step started with a 2- day workshop with professional actors on diverse issues relating to migration and how their craft, which is drama, can be effectively used in communicating and effecting an enduring change from the status quo.
Facilitated by consultants who are migration and drama for development experts respectively, the workshop equipped the actors with adequate knowledge on migration and how drama can be used as an eye-opener to prospective victims of irregular migration.
The contents developed, in the form of radio drama scripts, were aimed at empowering people with the right information, raise awareness, create discussions on migration issues, job opportunities for youths, returnees, risks associated with irregular migration and other related matters to have positive effects on achievement, self-confidence and motivation in various studies.
“We always believe that migrating illegally is a norm, so we are made to know that migration does not have to be illegal.
The radio drama is focused on explaining the economic and social conditions necessitating the desperate desire to migrate, sensitise the public on the gimmicks of human traffickers in luring unsuspecting victims, unveil the dangers of traveling abroad in search of better life based on beliefs that foreign countries are havens, sensitise the public on the dangers of illegal trans-border migration and reveal the harrowing condition of Nigerians being subjected to slavery and other dehumanising conditions abroad” Said Taiwo Ibikunle, the Director of Agate Multimedia Concepts and Director of the radio drama project.
The 13-week radio content/drama, were produced with some of the themes that trigger irregular migration and the resultant effects.
Speaking on the reason for the choice of radio as the medium of dissemination, the popular Nollywood actor also known as John the Genius said “… not all homes have television.
We discovered that radio is everywhere and easy to penetrate larger audience even more than the screen; that is why we picked that medium; and we decided to make the drama in Pidgin English so as not to have a language barrier.
A very large percentage of Nigerians understand and can communicate in pidigin English.”
“The broadcast is factored in a way that listeners can air their opinions on the various subjects bothering on migration ads treated by each of the episodes as the last drama lasts for 1o minutes and the last 10 minutes of the 20 minutes scheduled for broadcast is for analysis of the treated subject and phone-in.
This has helped to know how crucial the issue of migration is in our society and the impact this drama is having in terms of informing and enlightening the public vis-à-vis the subject of migration.
In fact, the management of Armed Forces radio 107.7 FM, Abuja had to, on its own, increase the broadcast time to 30 minutes to enable the listeners of the station air their views more, as the calls and reactions of the station’s listeners became overwhelming.
The management of SMA 104.7 FM, Lagos, after the broadcast of the first episode, began to broadcast the drama on its network, linking with its station in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State to on the request of its listeners”, explained the Director of the drama.