By Daniel Aladesehin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In what appears like a full slap in the face, the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu has for the umpteenth time demonstrated his nonchalance to the growth of Nigeria’s first state-owned television station which ordinarily should be his baby. This is despite repeated calls on him to give due attention to Lagos Television (LTV) which is his government’s only TV station.
His latest action of launching a so-called world-class film and television institute by the privately owned Ebony Life TV shows that indeed, the governor gives no hoot about the struggling Lagos Television LTV right there under his nose in Agidingbi.
According to report, the Academy which the governor enthusiastically launched, offers state-of-the-art lecture rooms, projection and sound facilities, as well as practical studio workshop spaces and post-production facilities fitted with latest technology to ensure cohorts have a conducive learning environment and advance their skillset.
If Mr Sanwo-olu is to take a cue from his predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, he would have directed this same attention to LTV with the objective of giving a new lease of life to what was to be the pride of the state.
When the recently transited Alhaji Lateef Jakande mooted the idea of launching a TV station for the state, his mission was to create a brand that could be rallied as the primary source of audiovisual information and entertainment for the people of Lagos.
Besides being the mouthpiece of the government, LTV has over the years serenaded the Lagos community with bespoke contents, which many Lagos youngsters back then, including Sanwo-olu grew up with. Interesting programmes which particularly appealed to the grassroots and the middle class of the metropolis, were the order of the day on LTV back then. This, of course is possibly due to the fact that, competition was nearly non-existent as of then.
As of today however, that station is in a sorry state, particularly when measured with the ever-expanding competitive industry. No thanks to mismanagement in recent past and till today, wrongful composition of the workforce and the dilapidated state of the entire facility and equipment.
In his days as the chief executive of the state, Ambode made conscious efforts to reposition the station for the competitive Lagos market, albeit his advisors on such repositioning were not TV broadcast experts. Only jobbers who though, are journalists in their own right but never experts at TV business. You can’t blame the former governor, he was just an accountant and a TV viewer.
Ambode’s efforts which poached the likes of the multi-talented Oba Adeoye from Television Continental (TVC) and got the stations some new equipment plus a CNN training in United Kingdom (UK) for the staff, could not yield expected results before leaving office, due to the reasons highlighted above, and more. Some of the ex-governor’s immediate cabinet even cashed in on Ambode’s enthusiasm to reform LTV, to smuggle in some of their friends, without the governor’s knowledge or approval.
The rest, like they say, is history.
Expectedly therefore, one looked forward to a continuity of that effort by his successor, Babajide Sanwo-olu, but so far, it has been all disappointing, as far as Lagos Television was concerned.
Since his assumption of office as the state chief executive, Sanwo-olu has not deemed it fit, not even once to grace the station with an appearance on any of its programmes. Yet he junkets other private competitors across the state with ease at every given opportunity.
The state of the equipment at Lagos Television is another point of worry for those who understand the business of TV. Ordinarily this should also be a thing of worry to the governor but since he never visits the facility, there’s no way for him to know how outdated the equipment have been.
In the area of appointment, Mr. Governor needs to ensure that the right people are appointed to man strategic positions at the station. He needs to investigate the circumstances under which some of those who recently resigned, took their decisions. He should ask questions across the Industry but be wary about another set of jobbers who may want to feast on his resolve.
According to inside information, some of the directors who just left the station possess the prerequisite skills and expertise to fix it, but were stifled by needless bureaucracy and a workforce built on mere man-knows-man. The civil service structure as it is, is at variance with modern TV practice. Hence, there is a need for a review of that structure in the case of the TV station.
Rather than lavishing the state resources on the private TV enterprise (the Ebony Academy) in the guise of boosting creativity, Mr. Governor must roll up his sleeves and get serious with Lagos Television. He could have as well initiated such a programme on the platform of the public broadcaster (i.e LTV) with the objective of using such an initiative as Launchpad for the rebuilding process of LTV.
There is no time best for this process to start than now, as he is halfway into the completion of his 4-year tenure as governor. There is no assurance he will remain so, for another 4-years.
Aladesehin, a broadcaster writes from Ikorodu Lagos.