By Emmanuel Bello.
For more than two decades, both the television and radio stations in Taraba state had operated with antiquated equipment. The television station was almost a museum of sorts with obsolete gadgets reminding one of the 70s and the 80s. And although kudos has to be given to previous administrations for starting and sustaining these stations, there is no gainsaying the fact that it took Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku to usher these stations into the twenty-first century of good picture quality, wider reach and better programmings. In a way, the station has added to the colour and class to the state in the eyes of the viewers. Now Tarabans can better appreciate the dazzles of the tourism potentials, while they get better informed.
All thanks to Ishaku working assiduously with media powerhouse Chief Lucky Omoluwa Pinnacle company. Even the surroundings of the television station is now a thing of beauty. Picture quality has improved in an unbelievable way, while the entire station has moved away from the past in an unimaginable way. To quote a practitioner in the industry, it is as if “CNN has taken over the local station because of the high-quality product.”
In contrast with what used to obtain, the television station is arguably in the league of the big stations around the country. As Omoluwa said, the goal is to make Taraba television one of the first five best stations in the country. He said, “the revolution in that sector in Taraba state is keeping with the best tradition of media globally. We are doing similar work in some states, but Taraba takes the biscuit as it is one of our best outputs.”
Pinnacle’s interest in Taraba state goes way back when it first got contracts to do the same job. Work abruptly stopped but has resumed now with a vigour.
This reporter has been involved in the efforts to actualize this dream. As commissioner of information in the government of Governor Danbaba Suntai, the hopes for digitisation was high. This was because of the deadline then. Suntai had committed himself to its actualisation before his crash. However, the following regimes had stepped in. Under Alhaji Sani Danladi Abubakar, Pinnacle bidded and was once again offered the job.
Today, the work Pinnacle is doing is a vindication of Governor Ishaku who promptly agreed to work with the company. Ishaku, a media-friendly governor, has never hidden his desire to radicalise the sector. During the campaigns, he personally paid visits to Mallum – where the television station is sited and almost wept. Apart from the seedy environment, the staff appear demotivated. An old Peugeot car stood on the side as the symbol of antiquity – a bold reminder that the place is an archaeological site. On one visit, the governor vowed that the station would feature prominently in his first few weeks in office. He kept his words. In another instant, at the mile six address of the state’s radio station, the governor decried the absence of a viable FM station in the state. Again, he promised to revamp the sector.
But television was the first beneficiary of this policy thrust. Today, digitisation is almost completed there. Adi Bala, a director with the station, was ecstatic as he showed me around the new station. According to him, work is now easy and more fun given the fact they have lived with what can best be described as carcases of equipment all these years.
Viewers are also thrilled. For the first time, Taraba residents now watch local television from midday to midnight. Back in the day, they would be lucky if they had six hours of viewing time. Power that used to be a major issue has been solved with improved electricity. Although power is generally down nationally, Governor Ishaku has been able to pull off a hat trick which has seen power improved drastically in the state.
The radio station is the next frontier as the commissioner of information, Anthony Danburam told me in a recent chat. According to him, Pinnacle has moved to site in Wukari for expansion work so that the entire state can watch the television. He also noted that radio is about to get a boost as the same company is set to sign up a contract in that regard. While that is awaited, he said, the governor has done some fantastic work already at the radio station ensuring that there are more hours. The FM is also alive and working, even as the station at mile six, has been fenced for better security.
But beyond the radio and television station, the governor has also set well equipped ICT section manned by Mrs Grace A. James at the Government House. An appointment of a Special Assistant on New Media, Nelson Len, shows too that Governor Ishaku is abreast with the new direction in media progression. Chief Omoluwa, the brain behind most of these, smiled as he told me that the best is yet to come. He said, “with all sense of humility, I can assure you that the best is yet to come. When we are done, other states may have to copy what Governor Darius Ishaku is doing in this sector in Taraba. We congratulate him and the state on this.”