Nanji Nandang Venley is a journalist, fact-checker, and radio host show for Silent Voices, an educative show on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Nigeria. Venley has over three years of experience hosting informative and educative shows with a passion for broadcasting the truth and creating societal awareness aimed at fostering social justice. As a vibrant communicator with the ability to captivate listeners whilst advocating for the rights of women and children, she has been able to create a support system for SGBV survivors through her talk show.
How did you get started as a journalist? Or what inspired you to become a journalist?
Growing up I realised how journalism could shape people’s opinions and I wanted to write stories that would change lives. After I graduated from university I decided to volunteer with a radio station in my city (Plateau state, Nigeria). And this decision paved new opportunities for me to create an impact.
What are your career aspirations?
My sole ambition is to be able to make a difference in society and in the world at large, as I take on the challenge of giving a voice to the marginalised and vulnerable people in society. My desire is to provide them with a safe space and support system that will enable healthy recovery.
What skills are the most critical to succeeding in this career? What type of person do you need to be?
I believe that success comes by putting others first because life is not about what we can gain from people but how much we invest in them. Therefore, to build a successful career in journalism, one must make a conscious effort in learning the skills involved in telling factual and impactful stories. Be passion-driven so your work can speak volumes, notwithstanding the obstacles that may hinder your progress.
Your radio show, Silent Voices, focuses on gender-based violence in Nigeria? When did you start this show and why focus on GBV?
I started Silent Voices with Nanji in October 2020, when Nigeria recorded a high rate of violence against women and children. It was the sad story of a 9-year-old boy who was violated by a neighbour that birthed Silent Voices. In my quest to help him find justice, I realised that I could use radio to amplify the silent cries of vulnerable women and children that society turns a deaf ear to.
My station manager approved my proposal to begin Silent Voices, and at the same time, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) — a non-governmental organisation committed to protecting women and children from violence — agreed to run pro-bono for survivors. My passion grew beyond telling the stories of these survivors to prosecuting perpetrators.
With this support from FIDA, Silent Voices has not only prosecuted some perpetrators but has successfully raised awareness regarding violence against women and children. I can’t appreciate my audience enough for the trust, support, and encouragement. It is fulfilling to know that you can be trusted with the problems of others.
What are some of the challenges you experienced with launching your radio show?
Justice is not easy in this region. The biggest challenge in this fight is that oftentimes survivors opt-out on the way to justice due to the burden of utility bills. I can’t blame them because these survivors are expected to foot the medical bills and litigation fees. So when survivors opt to withdraw a case because of this issue I’m also helpless. The justice system is very slow. There are times a case may linger for years and it discourages the survivor. How do you expect a 7-year-old survivor to go through a court case? It will definitely affect them psychologically because they are continually reminded of such an ugly experience.
Another contributing factor to injustice is that some parents are either coerced or enticed into collecting bribes from the perpetrators to withdraw a case, causing them to want to settle outside of the court. This is what poverty and ignorance can cause.
What have been some of the experiences of being a journalist in Nigeria?
The experience has been great for me and I appreciate JAY FM for giving me this amazing platform to achieve my goal. My gender has not hindered my colleagues from entrusting me with responsibilities. I have not experienced any form of discrimination, but rather both men and women have invested their time and resources to see Silent Voices grow.
What are some of the highlights of your career?
By the grace of God, I have been able to create a support system for survivors. I have successfully run a campaign to sensitise children and teenagers on sexual abuse.
What does success mean to you?
Hard work unlocks closed doors. So in order to succeed one must invest in their work.
What advice would you give to upcoming journalists?
My advice is this: do not go for the benefit a job can offer but rather choose the stories that are able to transform a community.
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