The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) officially opened its Lagos bureau office yesterday.
The move follows the recent launch of the BBC’s local-language services in Yoruba and Igbo. The Lagos bureau will be home to these plus its other language service, BBC Pidgin.
The opening of the Lagos office makes this the biggest expansion of the BBC World Service since its first language service, Hausa, was established 60 years ago. According to the corporation, the Lagos bureau will be the headquarters of its West African service.
Speaking at the launch, Jamie Angus, director of the BBC World Service Group, said: “It is wonderful to be here to open this bureau, which will be the headquarters for our operations across West Africa. It will be a beacon for journalism and as such I am delighted to announce our mentorship and internship scheme for up-and-coming journalists.
“Meanwhile, our Hausa service continues to deliver with an audience of over 36 million. We have vision to ensure the World Service generates accurate, impartial and independent news to all countries. We spot the stories, see the patterns and make sense of your world. Our mission is to remain your most trusted source of news in the years to come.”
Furthermore, he said the mentorship and internship programme is part of the BBC’s contribution to the growth of media practice and professionalism in Nigeria, and helps aid the fight against fake news.
Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, BBC’s head of West Africa, said: “It’s a great honour to be part of this expansion, and I’m so proud to be leading the teams in Nigeria.
“We will be big on original journalism that impacts the lives of Nigerians at home and abroad. We are expanding our editorial offer to cover politics, culture, business, health and investigations, among others. We will focus more on young people and women, ensuring we cover Nigeria and the whole of West Africa like never before. We’ll remain true to our ideals and values of objectivity, truth and impartiality.”
With over 200 people working at the bureau, the BBC West African headquarters has two radio stations and a TV station, with state-of-the-art equipment.
Chimezie UcheAgbo, broadcast journalist at BBC Igbo, explained to Content Nigeria why the three local-language services – Yoruba, Igbo and Pidgin – are launching 60 years after BBC Hausa.
“Getting a licence for a foreign terrestrial radio or TV station is a bit difficult. BBC Hausa is on the AM radio frequency; it doesn’t have a Nigerian frequency,” said UcheAgbo.
“However, the BBC is collaborating with TV stations like Channels TV to get its TV content out there. We work with partner stations, so we produce content and give to them to broadcast. Some of these stations include Odenigbo FM, Bliss FM and ASPS.”
The BBC is partnering with Channels Television to launch Connect Africa, a new weekly half-hour programme, later this year. Connect Africa is a current affairs series that will focus on the stories behind the news and the public reactions.
The BBC also plans to launch more TV programmes in Africa in English, Hausa, French and Swahili. According to the corporation, some of the TV teams will join the Lagos bureau to create content.
The guests at the event included John Momoh, Garba Shehu, Wole Soyinka, Okey Bakkasi, Don Jazzy, Tosyn Bucknor, Bolanle Olukanni, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, Steve Babaeko, Frank Donga and Julius Agwu.