International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 321

Full Length Research Paper

Promoting migration communication in Nigeria: Re-strategizing campus radio for discourse inclusiveness

Patrick Edem Okon
  • Patrick Edem Okon
  • Department of Mass Communication, Faculty of Arts, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar
Okon Effiong Udoyo
  • Okon Effiong Udoyo
  • Department of Mass Communication, Faculty of Arts, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar
Patrick Ene Okon
  • Patrick Ene Okon
  • Department of Mass Communication, Faculty of Arts, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 29 August 2021
  •  Accepted: 15 October 2021
  •  Published: 18 November 2021


This paper focuses on campus radio’s contributions to strengthen the discourse on migration, to regulate irregular migration in Nigeria, and on the needed strategies by which these contributions could be achieved. This consideration is made within the conceptual framework of the coordinated management of meaning theory. Five campus radios were studied. Using oral interviews and documentary study, findings show that migrants themselves are rarely included in the discourse about their issues through campus radio. There are a number of other factors, both at the managerial and operational levels that continue to militate against an inclusive migration communication in the country. In this regard, the paper argues for the need to internally re-strategize campus radio in the country for improved discourse inclusiveness and empowerment capabilities. Drawing insights from existing policy documents, the paper also makes recommendations with regard to those strategies necessary for the attainment of inclusive migration communication in Nigeria.


Key words: Migration, migration communication, campus radio, voice, social action, cocreation of meaning, re-regulation, re-strategizing, discourse inclusiveness, Nigeria.


The problem of migration is multidimensional in Nigeria. The Boko Haram terrorists’ incidence in the North East has brought about a number of displacement camps in the Northern and Southern regions that cater for the needs of migrants affected by the event. Also, the multiple herdsmen-farmers clashes and banditry attacks recorded across a number of states in the North and the Middle Belt have produced their own scores of migration realities. Down in the South-Southern region of the country, incidences of cultism, floods and community clashes have produced their own waves of migrants who seek refuge either in other parts of the country or in their own states of origin, assisted or unassisted by national migration agencies and networks. Thus, a massive wave of internal migration has swept across Nigeria in recent times. There is also the Libya angle to the issue. This provides a transnational dimension to the problem of migration in Nigeria. In the last three years, over eight million migrant returnees have returned to Nigeria from Libya. Their release from detention camps in Libya and return to the country were negotiated by Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry in partnership with the International Organization of Migration (IOM), in response to the high wave of migrant outward flows since 2014. To cater to the immediate needs of the returnees, the Federal Government of Nigeria established in early January 2018 reception centers in Port Harcourt. While the first batch of 490 migrants arrived at Port Harcourt on January 6, 2018, subsequent batches were also accommodated in those camps. All the returnees were, however, expected to be transported back to their states of origin. In all cases, the official record showed that over 80 per cent of returnees were young people and indigenes of Edo and Delta States.


Interestingly, most of the returnees had gory tales to tell. Their stories were illustrations of a kind of painful dislocation and the emerging structures of modern violence and slavery on the African soil. A number of the returnees even expressed fears of facing newer forms of poverty and destitution on their return to their own country of origin that would be far worse than what they had experienced before embarking on the dangerous journey to Western Europe through Libya. As noted by Amanda Sakuma, “the cost of the journey, both human and monetary, match a step steep sum of desperation and demand” ( Unusually, too, their gory narratives and traumatizing experiences seem to have achieved very little in deterring potential irregular migrants from making the same mistake. Apparently, young adults and even midlife persons who desire better life abroad have not been sufficiently discouraged from embarking on other dangerous migration ventures across the Sahara. These enduring trends in the flow of migrants in and from Nigeria, in part, problematizes the role of campus radio in addressing the issue of regular and irregular migration, as well as the self-regulatory process needed to best manage and strengthen the campaign capability of this arm of community media against irregular migration. The key questions addressed in this paper therefore include: What role is campus radio playing to strengthen the discourse on migration and assist in curtailing regular and irregular migration? How should campus radio be re-strategized in terms of its internal programming and social engagement to encourage the achievement of its role in relation to migration regulation? The underlying assumptions here are: that by virtue of its intrinsic essence, campus radio in Nigeria can and should play a significant but multi-layered and differential role in respect of this issue; the management processes for campus radio operations in the country require careful re-examination to help this media outfit play its migration communication role more effectively.


In this regard, the objectives of this study are:


1. To highlight the current role of campus radio in Nigeria in relation to migration communication;

2. To streamline the programme types and social action initiatives by which campus radio makes contributions to migration regulation in Nigeria;

3. To indicate how campus radio’s role should be re-strategized to encourage a more positive contribution to migration communication and regulation in Nigeria;

4. To indicate the main actors in designing and redesigning of the migration communication role of campus radio in Nigeria.


To provide the conceptual tool for the understanding of empirical data the study used Pearce and Cronen’s (1980) coordinated management of meaning theory. This theory recognizes the centrality of communication in human life; the interplay among communication, applicable rules of communication, and coordinated management of meaning; the need to understand social situations as products of hierarchy of organized meaning and coordinated social interactions among actors that have the potential to be unique; and the need for communicators to cast aside their pre-existing views of what it means to communicate (West and Turner, 2014). In essence, the coordinated management of meaning theory requires the understanding of: the co-creative nature of the communication process, how the ways messages take on meaning and are efficiently and effectively coordinated and managed; the content of the meaning people attempt to make together, and of the rules of the communication procedure itself. Pearce and Cronen (1980) believe strongly that such understanding could help transform, in constructive ways, the way we think about issues and relate to others. It is, therefore, these positive conceptual principles of the theory that would be drawn upon to shape this paper’s study on the relationship between campus radio and migration discourse and regulation in Nigeria.


UNESCO (2015) defines migration as “the process of leaving one’s home or usual place of residence to move to a new area”. Migration is of two kinds: internal and transnational. It is internal when the source and the destination areas are within one’s own country. This is otherwise known as inter-state or intra-state migration (Naik, 2016). Internal migration can be voluntary or involuntary, depending, of course, on the migration context and the availability of supportive systems (Pandey, 2016). It can be short-term when the migration is seasonal and regular and could last between one to six months; or long-term when it is irregular and involves residency that is more than six months (UNESCO, 2015). Transnational migration, on the other hand, can also be short-term or long-term depending on the context. Migration is international when the source and destination areas are in different countries. Cross-border migration can also be either inward or outward, depending on the direction of the flow, either ‘into’ or ‘out of’ the country of scrutiny. The focus of this paper, therefore, takes notice of the internal and international as well as short-term and long-term migration experiences of Nigerians.


Push factors


A number of factors have contributed to the movements of people across borders. The factors could be oriented as social, political, demographic, economic and environmental. These may include urbanization which accounts for a high percentage of rural-urban migration crisis globally, search for work, desire for better life abroad, reunion with a marriage partner, natural disasters like floods, political instability, escape from persecution or inadvertent displacement caused by terrorism, internal wars or conflicts, just to mention a few. These push and pull factors could function either singly or in a combination (UNESCO, 2015). While it is young adults, women and children that are worst affected in the migration saga, generally the dominant source areas are often those regions seriously impacted by the culture of socio-political disenfranchisement, unabated natural disasters, economic deprivation and prolonged social conflicts. The general position of scholars (Sethi, 2016; Faetanini, 2016) is that people from these areas are prone to migrate in large numbers in search of better life elsewhere. In Nigeria, for example, Edo and Delta States have been highlighted as the dominant source states (UNESCO, 2015). The classifications of the source and destination areas, in most cases, depend on the factor that triggers such movements and where migrants think relief and help could come.


Statistical information


Based on IOM’s (2018) statistical information, the world’s international migration population flows, as at 2015, stood at 244 million (up from the 232 million recorded in 2013). This is about 3% of the total world population stock. The year also recorded the highest in terms of the number of forced displacements globally – refugees, asylum seekers and internally-displaced persons across various regions. Viewed from the records held by the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Africa got 59.7% of the total global migration population flow in 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa recorded 62.6% of the total African percentile index and Nigeria alone had 15.2% of the Sub-Saharan African percentile index. Also, an estimate of 38 million is said to have been displaced by internal conflict and violence in Africa at the end of 2014, from such places as South Sudan, DR Congo and Nigeria (IOM Data Analysis Centre, 2015). The migration population flow stock for Nigeria in 2015 was 0.66% of the total estimated resident population of 179 million.


Inward migration stood at 1,199,115. The outward migration flow was 1,089,424. What this means is that 0.59% of all citizens of Nigeria migrated outside their country in 2015 (, 2018). Available information also shows that between 2011 and 2015, internal migration in Nigeria was generally higher in magnitude than transnational migration. These statistics are proofs to the fact that Nigeria’s migration flows in 2015 were exceptionally staggering. The data for 2016 to 2020 were not readily accessible as at the time of this study.




On a positive note, the massive flow of migrants into destination sources can add to the workforce and economic growth of the receiving states or countries (UNESCO, 2015). Migrants also contribute substantially to the overall human development, in terms of improved national incomes, health and education. In India, for example, migrants contribute to over 10% of her overall Gross Domestic Product (UNDP’s Report, 2009; cited in UNESCO, 2015). Wherever migrants travel to, they bring diversity of language and culture with them, making possible cultural and linguistic cross-fertilizations that are marked by a dynamic and inclusive multicultural national environment. Migrants do also bring back new skills and knowledge that could transform attitudes and cultural practices in their places of origin (UNESCO, 2015).

Yet, the positive contributions of migrants have hardly been recognized, appreciated and advocated. Many are even excluded from the social welfare development gains of their source and destination countries or regions.


However like every other social process and event, migration also has its own undesirable consequences. In most cases, migrants have been seen as a burden and devalued as political actors. Where migrations are transnational, migrants more than any other group, are often at the receiving end of extremely harsh, inhuman and unjust treatments by local administrators. They could also fall prey to human trafficking agents and networks. Faetanini (2016) admits that where migration movements are from rural communities to the cities within domestic setups, disablement in traditional rural lifestyle, depletion in rural work force, brain drain and unexpected pressures on existing social infrastructures in the cities with attendant demands on policy change to address policy gaps could be some of the natural effects.


Within this context, migrants could also suffer from a wide range of labor exploitations, marginalization and administrative abuses. Women and children, in particular, are most vulnerable to sexual harassment/abuses, with a concomitant danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (Faetanini, 2016; Schraven, 2016). These specifics underline the different areas of vulnerability that migrants face as they move to new locations. In this regard, every individual, government and media establishment, whether alternative or mainstream, should take migration challenges seriously. History has shown that handling these issues only politically has never yielded satisfactory results (Cost, 2018; Goldberg, 2018). Addressing them holistically through the reinvigoration and faithful implementations of existing policies, conventions, laws and treaties might, perhaps, be the best way to go. While Chaudhury and Ghosh (2021) support a humanitarian approach to the issue of migration over and above concerns for cross-border security, this paper argues that strengthening the migration advocacy bodies and initiatives, through research, policy re-strategizing, re-regulation, effective media management, funding, and media programme initiatives could assist in addressing the multiplicity of challenges faced by migrants.


Campus radio, otherwise known as ‘educational radio’, is a subset of ‘community media’ or ‘citizenship media’ (Okon, 2017; Rodriguez, 2001). Within scholarship, campus radio is generally categorized under the ‘alternative media’ industry (Atton and Hamilton, 2008) and recognized as a non-profit-making enterprise. This media outfit, generally, operates outside the spaces of the mainstream media of governments, commercial establishments and elite organizations to serve specific community interests. They constitute a media format meant for universities, tertiary, health and social institutions’ training and communication empowerment (cf. Fuchs and Sandoval, 2015). The format constitutes a genre of the small-scale media of which the rules of information management are informal, horizontal, rights-based and transformative (Atton and Hamilton, 2008). Its very nature, existence, and practice objectives, therefore, bear political implications for the questions of communication power, media democratization, media ownership/entrepreneurship, participatory media programming and the political organization of the media by local communities and groups (Couldry, 2003; Hackett and Carroll, 2006). Atton and Hamilton (2008) also outline the three structural and organizational areas where the power of campus radio, as an alternative media outfit, could be recognized, measured and applied. These are heterogeneity of ‘voice’, through the adoption of diversity of programming strategies; ‘experimentation’, in terms of aesthetic styles; and ‘social relations’ strategies, in terms of organization and management.


Campus radio, migrants and voice


Providing migrants with ‘voice’ has, therefore, become one of the dominant political issues in the debates about the relationship between campus radio and migration.


UNESCO, for example, views the provision of voice as “a rights-based approach to highlighting migrants’ issues” (2015, Chapter 3). The international organization ties the significance of voice to the question of freedom of speech and expression, respect for people’s dignity and agency in terms of people’s ability to act and seek justice on the basis of credible information. Poverty of voice, UNESCO observes, is a crime and could be a strong barrier against change agency. However, the importance of ‘voice’ as a value, as admitted by Couldry (2015), rests on those conditions that ensure access to technology and the participation of audiences in the production, reception and management of their media outfits. As a process, ‘voice’ focuses on the human narrative action and the coordinated informal approaches to the framing of stories and meanings (cf. Pearce and Cronen, 1980). More specifically, voice takes notice of the embedded social and linguistic norms of interpretation in relation to alternative media messages (Couldry, 2015). In view of this scholarly evidence, it is clear that one of the central tenets of campus radio anywhere in the world is to create a ‘voice’ for the marginalized. In particular, the small media outfit is also expected to offer access and space for migrants and migrant issues. The adoption of this principle by all campus radio establishments particularly in Nigeria, it is argued, would provide the agenda for affirmative action towards and a necessary path to social inclusion and/or inclusive media discourses.


Five campus radio stations were chosen for ‘multiple case study’ (Dezin and Lincoln, 2011). They are DELSU FM 103.7 (Delta State University, Abraka), UNIQUE FM 88.5 (University of Port Harcourt), UNIBEN FM 100.1 (University of Benin), LASU FM 97.5 (Lagos State University), and BUK FM 98.9 (Bayero University Kano). The samples were purposively selected to enable the authors to address the concerns of this research and for cross-case analysis. Their selection was guided, not only by their geographic locations in those areas considered as ‘Red States’ in irregular migration flow in Nigeria, but more importantly by their orientation towards the youths - a social category that has been seriously implicated in the increasing rise of internal and outward irregular migration in the country. LASU FM 97.5, in particular, is located along the Lagos axis that provides links to the Cotonou border – a passage way from Nigeria into other West African States.


The ‘case study’ design was adopted so that the authors could generate data for an in-depth understanding of the complex relationship between the chosen campus radios and migration communication, as well as to build robust ‘conclusions’ about the chosen research objectives. In this regard, the ‘techniques’ adopted for the generation of empirical data within the context of the case study were ‘oral interview’ and ‘documentary study’. Thus, telephone conversations were held in April 2019 with six representatives of the campus radio stations. They were Dr. Emmanuel Ufeophu of DELSU FM; Mr. Samuel Kpenu of UNIQUE FM; and Dr. David Ekhareafo of UNIBEN FM. Others were Prof. Rotimi Olatunji of LASU FM, Dr. Haruna Ismai’l and Mr. Salisu Rabi’u, both of BUK FM. These were mostly people on the managerial level. Each interview ran for about twenty minutes. An interview guide that captured the objectives of the study was developed and used. Respondents’ answers were electronically recorded and later transcribed for use.


Additionally, five different research and practice-based policy documents were critically examined. These were the Nigeria Broadcasting Code (2016), UNESCO’s (2015) document on effective community media management for migration purposes, IOM’s (2017) policy paper on migration communication, IGCM’s (2014) paper on the role of the media in shaping public attitudes towards migrants, and UNESCO’s (2017) policy document on the sustainability of community media. While oral interviews enabled the authors to engage meaningfully with the managers and producers (as insiders) of the five selected radio stations, documentary study enabled the authors to understand official practice directives and their possible applications to the Nigerian context. Findings from the two research instruments were approached theoretically guided by concepts drawn from the objectives of the study; not statistically.


For data analysis, the ‘explanation building’ model of general analytical strategy (GAS) which is suitable for qualitative study was used (Yin, 2009). GAS allowed the authors to spell out conceptual priorities in response to available empirical data and in line with the research objectives, as well as to group, compare and interpret data. The approach and the methods were, therefore, chosen because they were ‘actors’, ‘process’ and ‘context’ sensitive (Denzin and Lincoln, 2011). Also, the credibility of the adopted case study approach rested on its descriptive, illustrative and critical interpretative frameworks (Okon, 2014).


Current role of campus radios in migration communication


Irregular migration and the internal displacement of persons during conflicts were structurally complex and dynamic phenomena in Nigeria. Respondents, therefore, tied the key role of campus radios to that of mediation; that is, the communication of meanings through the process of representation of a wide range of ‘voices’ within the national community, through balanced news stories and debates, and the creation of awareness through diverse radio genres on issues about migration and internally-displaced persons. Respondents further observed that campus radios, just like any other media form, were also expected to engage in a mediatization process for social and cultural change. This form of ‘media logic’ envisaged that campus radios’ outputs and the way they were framed would, in the long run, influence the thinking, judgment, and actions of the political ‘others’ towards the migrants and other social groups whose views and opinions they represented. Additionally, respondents noted that campus radios in Nigeria had been well positioned through official licensing, regulations and trainings for inclusive communication initiatives. As facilitators of discourses on public issues, campus radios were seen as one of the strategic tools in the management of the increasing diversity in human persons and cultures in the country and the promotion of inclusion (NBC Code, 2016). Some of the issues highlighted by respondents that militated against the effective performance of their role in inclusive migration communication, however, included their low-power broadcasting equipment, poor staffing and funding, as well as authorization for the airing of some programme types by the university authorities. The closed circuit or carrier current systems being employed have limited audience reach and were not allowed links with internet radio feeds which reach might be difficult to control (Figure 1). 



DELSU FM (103.7), for example, received its full operational license in July, 2015. Before then, it had been operating with a provisional license. The station broadcasted from 6am to 6pm and for seven days in a week. Its coverage radius was 20 km. The radio station’s management was aware that Edo State produces the biggest number of migrants from the country; but they were never aware that Delta State was considered as one of the ’Red States’ in terms of illegal migration flow. For the management, external migration was not a big challenge to Deltans; but internal migration, resulting from natural disasters and inter-communal conflicts and the efficient management of the displaced persons, was a big topic. Ufuophu, the radio station’s manager, admitted that majority of the radio station’s engagement in migration communication was centred on those internal migration challenges that the community was facing. Only a few programming addressed external migration issues.


UNIQUE FM (88.5) in Port Harcourt was licensed in 2007. It operated between 7am and 12 midnight; seven days a week. Its coverage radius was between 60 and 65 km. The station did not have full-time staff members, except one technical staff. Its operations were undertaken mostly by students. Kpenu, the station manager, was himself a Ph.D student in the university. Kpenu acknowledged that the radio station was very much aware of the migration challenges in the country and the fact that some camps were established by the Federal Government in Port Harcourt to cater for the needs of returnee migrants from Libya. He observed that Rivers State had multiple internal conflicts that forced people to relocate from their communities to the city or even to outside the state.


UNIBEN FM (100.1), in turn, was licensed for operations in 2012. It operated between 8am and 4pm, from Monday to Friday. It had eleven permanent staff members. Its coverage reached out to the whole of Benin City. Ekhareafo, its manager, acknowledged the fact that both internal displacement and illegal external migration was a big challenge for Edo State. Both tended to be on a high rise in recent years. He identified and explained the two migration trends as it affected Benin City thus: Firstly, in the wake of the Boko Haram insurgency, about 3,000 people migrated from Adamawa State (North East Nigeria) to refugee camps in Benin. These camps were run by pentecostal pastors. Secondly, young men and women in Edo who believed that better life lay outside the shores of Nigeria and had seen the fortunes of their colleagues and friends who travelled out, tended to migrate out of the country for quick financial returns.


LASU FM (97.5) was more than five years in operation. It had no fulltime staff. It had only student volunteers and people coming for internship programme from outside the university. It operated between 8am and 5pm and only for six days in a week (except Sunday). Olatunji, its manager, observed that the outward migration issue was not a crisis situation for the Lagos State University environment nor was it even applicable to the whole of Lagos State because of its metropolitan nature. Rather, inward movement of persons from other countries into Lagos was the big challenge, which most often poses security challenge for the State government. In view of this situation, the radio station’s role was to provide the authorities with the necessary communication support to best manage the situation.


BUK FM (98.9), managed by Ismai’l and Rabi’u on behalf of the authorities of the Bayero University, Kano, was licensed in February, 2009. It operated daily between 9am and 5pm. Its coverage radius was between 60 and 65km and reached 27 of the 36 Local Government Areas in Kano State. Students’ voluntary participation in operation was high. The only non-student participants were the station manager and the technical staff. Kano State was one of those Northern states that had been impacted in the past by the Boko Haram saga. Though external irregular migration from the state had been minimal, a lot of migrants from the North East States (Borno, Adamawa, etc.) had populated different parts of Kano. Ismai’l, however, noted that “both internal and external migration was not an open issue in Kano. It was mostly a private affair”. It was this lack of ‘publicness’ on the matter, he admitted, that constituted a challenge to how the radio station should respond to the internal migration phenomenon within the state. The other challenge, the interviewee noted, was the fact that the radio station itself was very much isolated from the city centre. As a result, students’ coverage of migration issues was low.


Evidently, a large number of campus radio stations in Nigeria had been empowered through licensing and regulations to operate and broadcast to diverse audiences. Their specific communication role had also been defined by NBC. Each of these stations now have daily broadcasting routines, giving ‘voice’ to the different social groups within the host university and its surrounding. The one assertion that Delta State was never known to be a ‘hub’ in illegal migration flow was, however, indicative of either a deliberate personal disconnect with public debates on migration or a constraint brought about by inadequate information flow on migration in Delta State.


That notwithstanding, the NBC Code (2016) on broadcasting in Nigeria envisaged that the role of these educational radio stations on illegal migration coverage and discourses would not be so strictly different from that of the traditional mainstream media outlets. The only difference lay in the kind of communication technologies they could employ, the range of coverage and the specific target audiences they were allowed, the kind of programme contents they were permitted to float, as well as the level of engagements with their target audience.


The findings from selected samples have, therefore, proven that, despite some recorded setbacks, campus radios in Nigeria are indeed playing a significant and differential role in migration communication. The barriers that militate against their optimal performance, however, require immediate re-examination and redress to heighten their efficiency and effectiveness.


Programming and social actions towards migration regulation


Respondents highlighted two types of programming in relation to campus radios: instructional programming meant for the training of students as professional broadcasters; and community-based campus radio programming, often produced and anchored by volunteers who are not training to become media professionals. Section 9.11 of the NBC Code (2016) was also very specific that campus radios in Nigeria were for apprenticeship and educational contents creation and distribution. These were to serve as their principal broadcast objectives. The policy document, however, did also give room for minimal broader community programming and social engagements. Evidently, all the radio stations studied had worked to respond to these mandates. On a positive note, field investigation showed that most of these radio stations did provide news coverage on migration issues, discussion and phone-in programmes, as well as aired jingles and local music which contents sometimes did reflect perspectives on people’s migration experiences. Most of these programmes were, however, short-term; and news was often culled from other news sources.


DELSU FM (103.7), for example, had little long-term programming specifically targeting migration issues. “What had been in place in DELSU FM were news reports on migration returnees and magazine programmes that combined discussion and phone-ins to get feedback from the audience on migration issues” (Ufuophu, 2019). The magazine programme, targeting students and those domiciled in surrounding environments, was aired only twice in a two-weekly period to seek out their views on the dangerous journey of young Nigerians to Libya and on the expected role of government in stemming the tide of illegal migration in the country. The station, according to the interviewee, had never given ‘voice’ to any of the migrant returnees themselves to narrate their experiences to the community, outline their expectations of their governments, and even warn would-be illegal migrants against embarking on such dangerous journeys. Additionally, the radio station had never undertaken any form of open-air social action since its inception, except a colloquium on migration challenges organised a few years ago and attended by only about 400 students.


UNIQUE FM’s engagement with migration programming was similar. It was also limited in a way. The interviewee tied this constraint to the reduced radius coverage imposed by NBC. He revealed, however, that UNIQUE FM had carried several news items on the displacement consequences of the incessant inter-communal clashes in Rivers State. The campus radio station had also organized discussion programmes many times to address some sociocultural and economic issues. One of such programmes was Let’s Talk, aired for one hour, between 8:30 and 9:30am every day, except weekends. The last inter-communal conflict in Ikwere was featured in one of such discussion programmes. UNIQUE FM also ran daily jingles on social conflict and peace issues. This was in addition to a slogan, “Remember, Peace Is the Key to a Better Society. Let’s Embrace Peace”, that was aired every day before each daily news broadcast.


In terms of social actions, meant to conscientize students on illegal migration, the station had done very little. The only event was a public rally held in 2016, which was organized by linguistic students to raise consciousness about the need for young adults to seek alternative means of wealth creation within the country. The radio provided extensive news coverage of that rally. As a matter of policy, the station reviewed its programme every 13 weeks. This review process required the introduction of new programme formats. Migration regulatory advocacy, the interviewee noted, would be given greater emphasis in subsequent reviews. But the biggest challenges the radio station was facing in introducing new formats were in the areas of human capacity and funding.


UNIBEN FM, in turn, responded to irregular migration challenge mostly through news coverage. News stories, the interviewee noted, were aired at various times on the returnee migrants from Libya, on the plights of the victims, and on the community’s response to the whole issue which rubbed off badly on the image of Edo State. Discussion programmes on the subject were also used to broaden the radio station’s contribution. But the victims of the illegal migration, the interviewee noted, were never themselves engaged by the station to share their experiences. Additionally, a magazine programme titled Fact File was aired by the radio station every day. Some of the issues raised in the programme touched on the bad image young illegal migrants brought to Edo State.


Whether inward or outward, just like other campus radio stations, LASU FM responded to irregular migration through news coverage. Olatunji revealed, however, that the radio station had been invited to a workshop that was organized in Benin City (Edo State) by Deutsche Welle, a German radio station, in mid-October 2018 on the upsurge of illegal migration flow into Germany. LASU FM provided news coverage on the event. Outside news coverage, the interviewee noted that the university community itself, from time to time, did invite guests to speak to the students on air about entrepreneurship. The radio station provided news coverage on such events, to further educate the broader community. Outside these, the interviewee admitted, “no other specific long-term programming or public campaigns had been organized by the campus radio on irregular migration challenges or human trafficking cartels in Lagos State” (Olatunji, 2019). The radio station, however, intended to develop programmes on internal migration and the plight of displaced persons in collaboration with the university’s Centre for Refugee Studies.


As a result of the isolation of the radio station from the city centre, BUK FM’s coverage on migration issues was low. News coverage on other socio-political and economic phenomena was, however, high. Students were allowed to develop news only on internally-displaced persons in Kano State. Most of these stories, the interviewee admitted, were culled from newspapers and other mainstream news media. In particular, Boko Haram-induced internal migration challenges, Ismai’l admitted, have been reported on air by students only a few times. Musical programmes that also addressed issues of conflicts and their painful consequences had, however, been featured some times. The selected musical scores were strictly local in content and their entertainment value was hyped by students’ creativity. Loka Tin Nishaepi, for example, allowed audience to select their musical preferences for airing. Ismai’l noted, however, that the radio station did not have any plan for a long-term migration programming. For him, human capacity constituted one big obstacle the radio station was facing in initiating any long-term programming. While most of the campus radio stations studied have engaged their volunteers in a wide range of production and social action initiatives (news, discussion and magazine programmes, music, jingles, open enlightenment campaigns, etc., Figure 2), some disturbing aspects that emerged from oral interviews included the short-term nature of their programmes, limited direct engagements with the returnee migrants to give voice to their stories, and limited human capacity and funding to improve and sustain programme productions. Others were negative stereotyping of irregular migrants and internally-displaced persons on the basis of their ethnic origin, social status, or religion; and the regulatory interventions by university authorities to stop the circulation of certain programme types that were considered to contradict some of the core values of the universities. Equally significant were constraints relating to NBC’s imposed mandates particularly on message contents, technologies that could be used and the coverage range permitted; as well as slowness in the authorization processes of host universities for speedy reviews of programmes and action initiatives (Figure 1).


Regardless of these few achievements and challenges, findings for this objective have proved that campus radios’ programming and social action initiatives were diverse. Some gaps identified, for example, the non-inclusion of the voices of returnee migrants in programming, stereotyping of migrants, and the delays in reviews of initiatives, however, still require serious and urgent attention. The national regulators and university authorities, it is argued, still need to address the power of campus radios and the negative sentiments they could produce in any public conversations about migrants.



Re-strategizing to encourage an inclusive discourse on migration


While empirical data clearly showed that most of the campus radios were faced with many challenges that invariably impacted negatively on their ability to regularly engage in an inclusive migration communication, evidence from the policy documents studied also showed that these challenges could be overcome for improved inclusive migration communication. Such improvement could be achieved partly through the adoption of certain management and operational strategies that were tied around specific subject areas associated with campus radio’s operations. This adoption process would require some form of re-strategizing and/or re-regulation. These re-strategization subject areas included policy, programming, role plays, training, research, collaboration, and sustainability. These areas do not, however, operate as standalones; they connect with and impact on one another (Figure 3).



Operational policies


According to UNESCO’s (2015) policy document, self-regulation was key to a successful re-strategizing exercise by any community media establishment. This was closely tied with the guiding philosophies of any organization. It was what controlled capacity development processes, the operational behaviour of community media and attendant social expectations. The enduring limitations in human capacity and funding of campus radios’ response scope, for example, apart from problematizing the level and quality of ‘voice’ these establishments could or were willing to offer, also raised serious policy questions that needed to be quickly addressed by the host universities through self-regulation, so as to strengthen their campus radios to engage more meaningfully with victims of migration phenomena in the co-creation of social meaning (cf. Pearce and Cornen, 1980). Through self-regulation, campus radios could also find legal ways of by passing the limitations imposed on them by national regulators in relation to their coverage reach and broadcast technologies, such as a meaningful deployment of social media and the web to reach broader audiences.




Regular news coverage and discussion programming could strengthen the frameworks for the co-creation of meanings and the framing of hierarchy of organized meanings through personal narratives and collective debates (cf. Pearce and Cornen, 1980). The use of eye-witnesses in news reports and discussions could be an effective way of engaging in coordinated meaning-making processes and ultimately, in the regulation of migration challenges. The exclusion of irregular migrants and displaced persons as eyewitness from programmes meant to address their issues was unprofessional. Besides, it could affect the way the lager community thought about these persons or decided on issues affecting them. Several studies (Danilora, 2014; IOM, 2017; Hoewe and Peacock, 2020) had shown that there was a correlation between media coverage and attitudes towards migrants, especially where extensive news coverage stereotyped them on the basis of their ethnic origin and social status or added to the success of existing dominant rhetoric and the rise of anti-migrant sentiment. The managements and producers of campus radios in the country should restrain themselves from speaking only to experts and ignoring the ‘voice’ of the victims when building their radio programmes. Every member of the host communities – victims and non-victims – should be seen as entitled by right to partner with the host universities in programming and in a language that made sense to them. Again, the selection of the most appropriate programming format for migration communication should also be considered. Though news and magazine programming are highly significant, study (Jegede et al., 2015) had shown the need to adopt programme formats that appealed most to young adults. Students generally were attached to entertainment programmes. Infusing these with migration themes could be a very useful way of capturing their listening attention.


Role plays


Producing role-plays either in the form of audio dramas or docu-dramas to highlight scenarios and some of the gaps (policy, administrative and infrastructural) in the care of migrants could go a long way to regulate the process, at least at the local community level. Outcomes of role-plays could also be used as inputs for public campaigns to create awareness and for creating programme ideas, for news coverage, for music creation, and for analysing the importance of safe migration. Sadly, oral interview evidence showed that this was not happening among campus radio stations in the country. None of the interviewees had highlighted role plays as an essential component of their programming and social operations.




Training should be seen as a three-aspect process that involves the training of campus radio operational personnel on migration-related productions, the training of returnee migrants to participate in practical production processes, and the provision of counselling services on radio to assist victims of illegal migration. Each could take on either formal or informal outlook, depending on the desirable objectives.


In October 2020, the UNESCO regional office in Abuja trained campus radio operators to provide skills for quality studio content production and accurate information circulation to the public. This project, which took place in Lagos, was aimed at supporting the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 and was, ultimately, targeted at protecting the fundamental right of Nigerians to accessing quality information on migration issues. This kind of training for operational personnel could be duplicated by host universities to strengthen quality studio productions by their campus radio stations. Such training projects should, in particular, take notice of the professional standards enshrined in the NBC Code, as well as the equality and diversity training expectations of the broader media industry (IOM, 2017). The involvement of migrants in journalism had also been given emphasis in the IOM’s (2017) policy paper. This requirement went beyond the mere involvement of returnee migrants and displaced persons as eyewitnesses in migration narratives. It entailed their being absorbed into the team of volunteers in the radio stations. Since joblessness was one reason young adults embark on the dangerous trips to foreign countries, the employment of returnee migrants, apart from helping the small media industry fill up its research and human capacity need gaps, could also help to solve, even modestly, the employment challenges these young adults face.




Research in the locations of campus radios could connect practice with the outside reality (Naik, 2016). This could assist the radio station in some ways: to understand the reasons for migration, establish migrant statistics and determine the kind of measure needed to resettle migrants or to address their concerns, etc. Empirical research that linked the economic and the social with migration could also inform both policy and media operation strategies. Besides, quality research could also help resolve the problem of inadequate information flow on migration that a few of the campus radio stations, such as DELSU FM, experienced.




The purpose of campus radios’ engagements with civil society is to seek support and build a common front in terms of social action initiatives that could help improve the life and intellectual capacity of potential or returnee migrants. Campus radios’ level of connection with these allies has, historically, been known to account for their successes or failures. Re-strategizing suggests the need to actively broaden, deepen and sustain such connections. For irregular migration to be reasonably controlled the government should play its own role and the citizens, the mainstream media, the communities and other civil society organizations should also be committed to their own responsibilities. Again, with the licensing of a few grassroots community radios, these stations could be empowered to function alongside the educational ones so that the tempo of awareness creation on migrants and migration issues could be higher. For instance, in communities where herders-farmers clashes are prevalent, resulting in internal displacement of persons, existing campus radios in those communities could work with the relevant NGOs, security agencies, opinion leaders, and relevant government departments to enlighten and empower the people to prevent future clashes and for peace building. UNIQUE FM in Port Harcourt, for example, affirmed their commitment in this direction.




Apart from being empowered to engage in their mediation and/or mediatization role, the positioning of campus radio for sustainability in relation to their different operational initiatives was of concern to respondents. For example, evidence from oral interviews across the selected five campus radios shows that most migration-related programmes and broadcasting have been mostly on short-term basis. These stations give coverage to migration stories and debates only at the peak periods. The ability of the stations to produce and air migration programmes or engage in social action initiatives on long-term arrangements were considered practically impossible on the basis of three factors: human capacity challenges, poor funding, and slow authorization by the managements of host universities for speedy reviews of action initiatives.


The question of sustainability for success through long-term planning should no longer be seen by campus radio practitioners as negotiable. UNESCO’s (Centre for Law and Democracy, 2017) sustainability policy on community media provides a series of steps and values in the areas of policy, independence, funding, support, participation, and accountability that campus radio operators can continue to draw upon as a guide on long-term planning for migration-related activities. This paper recommends a careful adoption/adaptation of the relevant sections of that policy paper. The empirical data obtained from documentary study for this objective have, therefore, shown clearly that the challenges constraining campus radios’ improved migration communication are not finite. They could still be overcome when the managements and operators of these channels, among others, adopt/adapt the recommended interlocking strategies listed above to further empower their small media outfits.


The key actors in migration communication role of campus radios


Oral interviews and documentary study reveal that key actors in the designing and redesigning of campus radio’s migration communication strategies are diverse and their roles varied. They include:


1. The national government through their media regulators;

2. The host university community and university managements;

3. The wider community where the university and, invariably, the campus radio is located;

4. Students and interns;

5. The managers and technical staff members of the radio station;

6. The teaching and non-teaching staff members of the universities;

7. Other allies and collaborators.


Though their roles in the radio stations were not deeply explained by respondents, documentary study, however, shows that their continuous involvements in the life of the radio stations have further redefined not only the diversity consideration of campus radios in the country, but also the level of consultations available to the industry. Section 9.14 of the NBC Code (2016), for example, stresses the need for a broader consultation of these diverse actors in the management of any campus broadcast station in the country.


In varying ways and through the different manner of their engagements with the radio stations, these actors can influence the quality, packaging and outward flow of information circulated from these radio stations on migration. They can also impact on the stations’ social action initiatives. Thus, if any level of improvement must be recorded on how inclusive migration communication was to be done in the country, findings show that this chain of actors should be considered, consulted and their positive contributions drawn upon.


This paper set out to investigate the relationship between campus radios and migration regulation in Nigeria. The study was placed within the broader context of small media management and entrepreneurship. In line with the established objectives of this study, the paper concludes, firstly, that irregular migration and displacement of persons resulting from internal conflicts and natural disasters is a big challenge to Nigeria; and that the current role of campus radios in relation to inclusive migration communication is limited, constrained by a number of managerial and operational factors such as imposed official regulatory mandate, unavailability of requisite human capacity and necessary funding. Secondly, most of the contributions of campus radios come only by way of news coverage, jingles, music, discussion and magazine programming. Even open rallies and seminars that could help create awareness and deepen knowledge on migration issues are sparingly organized by the educational radio establishments. The noticeable deficits in themselves invite the need for programme reviews, re-regulation and re-strategizing. This paper, thus, argues for the need to re-strategize campus radios’ operations for effectiveness and greater positive impact in relation to an inclusive migration communication. UNESCO’s guideline on migration communication through different formats of community media and IOM’s policy paper as well as UNESCO’s sustainability document are presented as exceedingly helpful in this regard. Campus radios operators in Nigeria and elsewhere would do well to adopt or adapt the recommended strategies.


Additionally, the main actors on campus radios’ communication and social action processes on migration also need to be broadened beyond students to include the migrants themselves, opinion leaders, experts in the field and others. All categories of actors should be seen as important to the success of this media sector in representing the ‘voice’ of migrants in Nigeria.


The authors wish to note that the procedural direction and empirical findings of this study were purely qualitative and within the research context of a case study. Future statistical researches might be necessary to complement the theoretical drive of this paper. 


The authors have not declared any conflict of interest.


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