By Anayo Ezugwu
THE Board of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has accused Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture of trying to destroy the broadcast industry with the amendment of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. it said the danger of allowing the unilateral amendment of the code to stand is that investors will lose confidence in the stability the broadcast ecosystem has enjoyed before the advent of the current minister of information.
In a statement signed by Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, chairman, NBC Board, said the action of the minister in unilaterally amending the code was illegal and against the Act that set-up NBC. He said the very controversial portions of the amended code were aimed at destroying hard work and enterprise. He said the intention of the minister is to take away people’s freedom and intellectual property.
“It aims at depriving hard-working entrepreneurs to empower new entrants who have not cut their teeth and it aims at stifling investment. That is the main reason why stakeholder inputs are being avoided. As a Board that supervises the affairs of the NBC, it is important that we state that we cannot fold our arms and watch the activities of the Honourable Minister which is directed at destroying the modest gains the Broadcast Industry has achieved since the setting up of the Commission and the deregulation of Broadcasting in Nigeria.
“While not disputing the fact that there are many challenges in the sector, the quest to find solutions cannot be totally assumed by one man. Approaches to solutions must be through wide consultations, discussions, persuasion and concession. Dictatorship tends to ruin businesses and prompt divestment. The Hon. Minister seems to have taken the option of working from an answer to the question instead of vice versa. We are in an era of democracy.
“The NBC was set up by law and there is an Act that guides its operations. The Honourable Minister, therefore, cannot usurp the powers of the Board as clearly stated in the Act. Any such action by the Honourable Minister is illegal. The Board of the NBC wishes to make it quite clear that as long as it is in place, the only NB Code that we recognise and which we shall work within the setting of operating policies and standards for the NBC is the 6th edition of the NB Code, which was launched in 2019 in Kano. Any other purported review has no Board endorsement and therefore cannot be utilised in regulating broadcasting in Nigeria.
“Our President and his team have worked so hard to galvanise local and foreign investment in Nigeria. Allowing obnoxious policies to take root in our Investment Culture will spell doom for creativity, enterprise, diversity and the general development of broadcasting in Nigeria. From the history, traditions and the convention of the NBC, no minister of Information has ever interfered in any NB Code review. After the 2019 presentation of the 6th code (which is the present one), the Hon. Minister has acted alone with just a handful of his loyalists, who have written a new NB Code that has created an uproar in the industry, threatening to destroy investments and lead to job losses,” he said.
Bilbis caused the minister of using President Muhammadu Buhari’s name to achieve his personal ambition of closing some broadcast stations in the country. “The minister has constantly dropped the name of President Muhammadu Buhari as having approved his own version of the code review. The NB Code is a regulatory framework put together jointly by stakeholders to guide their operations in the industry. It is therefore not a unilateral government instrument and is already covered by Law hence, not requiring any further Presidential approval.
“This might be the reason why till date the minister cannot show us a copy of the Presidential approval. President Buhari is a stickler for due process and he always insists on organisations doing the right thing. The minister’s version of the revised NB Code does not meet any known criteria of due process and inclusiveness of stakeholders. The National Broadcasting Commission is established by law and section 2(h) of the NBC Act empowers the Commission to establish and disseminate a Nigeria Broadcasting Code (NB Code) which sets standards for the quality and content of broadcast materials.
“Code review is undertaken every four years and involves the staff of the NBC, Former DG’s, retired Directors of the Commission and all other relevant stakeholders in broadcasting. These include Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Independent Broadcast Association of Nigeria (IBAN), Private Media outfits, Broadcasters, Notable media Intellectuals, Communication experts, Digital team and Academia.”
– Aug. 14, 2020 @ 12.39 GMT |