USA Backs Nigeria’s Arewa24TV With A $6M Funding To Fight Boko Haram
Arewa23TV was incepted last year by Equal Access International, which is a U.S government contractor based in San Francisco. The U.S. State Department has given financial support amounting to $6 million to support the launch of the station. Arewa24TB is a 24-hour satellite TV channel established within Boko Haram strongholds in Northern Nigeria. The station’s mission is to fight terrorism in that region by countering the religious extremism in the radical group.
Equal Access International has similar programs backed by the U.S. State Department in Pakistan and Yemen. Arewa24TV is expected to produce local-original content like comedies and broadcast them targeting the youth and children with the intention of teaching them against Boko Haram recruitment and extremist views.
The project’s major challenge is that the majority of the families living in the target area don’t have access to TV or electricity for that matter. The community also lacks other public services like infrastructure, education and security. Thus, the team behind Arewa24TV is also considering using mobile phones to reach out to the community members despite the fact that cellphone towers are also being targeted by the Boko Haram insurgents.
It is believed that Boko Haram is also recruiting from Nigeria’s neighbouring countries. Communities living in Nigeria’s borders don’t speak the Hausa language, which is the language Arewa24TV is using to reach out to their target community living in Northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has also taken to social media platforms such as YouTube to reach out to its sympathisers to recruit more people into its cause. So just how effective Arewa24TV will be in counteracting Boko Haram’s radicalisation campaign is in doubt. Simply because Boko Haram are also employing various ways to reach out, and their campaign for radicalization and recruitment is not limited to the community members living in Northern Nigeria, it is reaching out to Nigeria’s neighbouring countries as well as the international community via the internet.
However, Arewa24TV is not be the first U.S. media to operate in Northern Nigeria, Voice of America (VOA) has been on air in that region offering programs in Hausa language for some time now. But Arewa24 will not just be about news; it is going to give training to the womenfolk, and involve the youth in the production of videos to counteract terrorism and religious extremism.