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NBC Board Disagrees With Lai Mohammed, Rejects Amended NBC Code (Full Statement)

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The Board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has kicked against the amendments to the sixth edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

The Chairman of the Board, Ikra Bilbis, stated the position of the board on Thursday while addressing a news conference in Abuja.

“As a board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laureate, activists, legal practitioners, broadcasters, investors, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), content creators, copyright experts, and professional organisations.

“Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment,” said Bilbis who is a former Minister of State for Information.

He explained that the management of the commission did not undertake a proper consultation before making the amendments to the code.

The former minister decried that the amendments to the code were capable of destroying investments in the nation’s broadcast sector.

He stressed that the board was not in support of the reviewed code unveiled by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday last week.

Bilbis noted that some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had made observations to the minister at a meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during, and after the elections.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had also called for the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert a reoccurrence.

The NBC board chairman, however, stressed that the noble observation of the President was misunderstood by the minister.

“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.

”Another purported review has no board endorsement,” he stated.

 

Read the full text of Bilbis’ remarks at the briefing below:

THE POSITION OF THE BOARD OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (NBC) ON THE PURPORTED AMENDMENT TO THE 6TH EDITION OF THE NIGERIA BROADCASTING CODE (NB CODE).

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, I welcome you all to this important press briefing on a very touchy issue related to broadcasting in Nigeria.

You may all be aware of the recent negative developments concerning the purported amendment of the NB Code. The wellbeing of the broadcast media has direct relevance to the stability of our democracy. I, therefore, have the pleasure of presenting to you the position of the NBC Board on the issues.

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, Digiteam and the Academia.

The current edition (6th Edition) was presented to the public in 2019 at an elaborate ceremony in Kano which attracted a broad section of various stakeholders.

Following the 2019 national elections, some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) made observations to the Honourable Minister of Information at a FEC meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during and after the elections and the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert such future occurrence.

This noble observation of Mr President was unfortunately misunderstood by the Hon. Minister of Information. Instead of studying and following the Law, relevant rules and regulations, and direct the appropriate authorities as stipulated by the Law to act on, he erroneously embarked on the review alone.

From the history, traditions and the convention of the NBC, no Honourable 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.

The Honourable 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 Hon. 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 Honourable Minister’s version of the revised NB Code does not meet any known criteria of due process and inclusiveness of stakeholders.

The Director overseeing the office of the DG of the NBC has equally made insinuations that the Board endorsed the amendments culminating in its ‘public presentation’ on 26th March 2020 at the L’eola Hotel in Lagos. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The “public presentation” was actually attended by serving directors in the NBC, one former DG of the NBC, a member representing the Ministry of Information and only four (4) selected stakeholders.

When compared with over sixty (60) stakeholders that attended the 2019 presentation in Kano, there is a wide gap in industry representation. We have the list of the four hand-picked stakeholders at the Lagos “presentation”. The Board of the NBC was neither informed nor represented.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may all recall that by 26th march 2020, (the day of the “Public Presentation” in Lagos), the Federal Government had already announced a COVID-19 lockdown of Lagos, Ogun states and the FCT. It was therefore not a sincere effort to present such an important ‘review document’ which affects people’s investments and livelihoods under such situation.

The attendant public outcry over the purported review of some sensitive sections of the NB Code compelled the Board of the NBC to institute a process through which stakeholders could express their opinions and harmonise their feelings with what the Honourable Minister had unilaterally created.

The Board convened a meeting which included the Director overseeing the office of the DG in attendance. The unanimous decision was to issue a press release inviting inputs from various stakeholders. It became clear to the Board that even though the Director overseeing the DG’s office subscribed to the unanimous decision of the Board, he was inclined to sabotaging the press release for obvious reasons.

The Board, on its own, chose to be proactive by taking Five (5) National Newspaper announcements seeking inputs from relevant stakeholders in furtherance of the principle of equity, fairness and creating a level playing ground for all stakeholders.

Most surprising was the rejoinder issued by the Director overseeing the office of the DG stating that the notice published by the Board seeking stakeholders input does not have the ‘official endorsement of the Commission’. Sections 5(4), 5(2) 1(d), (g) and (h) and sections 3 of the NBC Act state categorically the powers and composition of the Commission and under whose purview the management of Commission falls.

There are very serious and disturbing amendments which have been unilaterally carried out by the Hon. Minister. This has attracted very critical comments with threats of litigation from concerned organisations and individuals.

As a Board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laurette, Activists, Legal Practitioners, Broadcasters, Investors, BON, Content Creators, Copyright experts and professional organisations. Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment.

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.

The danger of allowing the unilateral amendment of the NB Code to stand is that investors in the industry will loose confidence in the stability the broadcast ecosystem has enjoyed till date before the advent of the current Minister of Information.

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.

I leave you with the words of the famous American President Abraham Lincoln who said:

‘’You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, which they could and should do for themselves’’.

The very controversial portions of the purported amended code certainly aim at destroying hard work and enterprise. It aims at taking 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 been avoided.

I shall take a few questions and allow some of my colleagues and Industry experts to handle details in some areas.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

Ikra Aliyu Bilbis

Chairman, NBC Board

13/08/2020

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CGI Babandede Bows Out With Glorious Light, Global Acclaim

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The 11th Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Muhammad Babandede, MFR, was pulled out from Service Monday in grand style, razzmatazz and pageantry, after a transparent and diligent service to his country – Nigeria.

The occasion took place at the NIS Parade Ground, Sauka, Abuja, and was graced by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was Special Guest of Honour; Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, MON, mni; Service Chiefs, Inspector-General of Police, IGP Alkali Usman Baba and other heads of sister security agencies. Also at the occasion were top traditional rulers, Captains of industry, community leaders, youth groups, women groups and members of the diplomatic corps.

Speaking during the ceremony, the Minister of Interior, Aregbesola, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, paid glowing tributes to CGI Babandede for rebranding and repositioning the Nigeria Immigration Service as a top class migration management agency globally.

Continuing, Ogbeni Aregbesola, enjoined Babandede’s successor and NIS management to effectively harness and utilize the ultra-modern technological infrastructure established by Babandede for continued policing and surveillance of Nigeria’s borders, adding that the innovation is world-class and must be properly maintained at all times.

The Minister of Interior poured encomiums on the out-going CGI, applauded the gigantic transformational milestones and legacies left behind by the outgoing CGI

In the same vein, the Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar Badaru lauded the sterling leadership qualities of CGI Babandede, patriotism and monumental achievements of the outgoing CGI, noting that he is a shining ambassador of Jigawa State, whose footprints are written on the sands of time in building a harmonious relationship with sister agencies; was unparalleled and must be exploited to the fullest for enhanced productivity and service delivery.
He enjoined other chief executive officers to borrow a leaf from the mercurial service record of CGI Babandede who has made Jigawa State proud.

Meanwhile, other stakeholders are also unanimous that CGI Babandede will continue to be a reference point, in the annals of efficient service delivery, transparency and patriotism in Nigeria, alluding that he has changed the narrative and paradigm shift of the NIS in compliance with best international practices.

Also, a prominent civil society group, Guild of Civil Societies and Media Executives for Equity, Justice & Transparency (GOCMEJ), was full of praises for CGI Babandede for redefining service delivery, accountability, transparency and patriotism in Nigeria’s public service. The organization, which is an amalgamation of over 350 CSOs, NGOs and media executives, recommended the outgoing CGI for higher national office, stating that his invaluable service record must not be sacrificed on the altar of officialdom. Emphasizing that CGI Babandede is brimming with resourcefulness, youthful energy and zeal for service to humanity and his fatherland.

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NDDC: GPMI Hails Sen. Akpabio , Says Detractors Should Leave Him Alone

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The Global Peace Movement International UK has described the Niger Delta Minister, Sen. Godswill Akpabio as a man who claimed fifteen story building without a steer case.

The group also said Senator Godswill Akpabio is a proven performer. Since he became the Minister of Niger Delta, he has been working diligently to develop the region. It is on record that massive work is going on in the region in different sectors.

In a press statement signed by the media officer, Augustine Aminu (KSM) on behalf the President General of Global Peace Movement International UK, Dr. Mike Uyi who currently lost his sister, Pastor Rose Uyi.

He said, prior to the minister’s assumption of office at the Niger Delta Affairs ministry, activities at the ministry were in dire need for reformation. Therefore, it took the frugality in his resource management and political determination to turn around the entire gamut of the Niger Delta community for the better within his short stay in office.

According to Uyi, the mandate of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs is to formulate and execute plans, programmes, and other initiatives as well as coordinate the intervention activities of agencies, communities, donors, and other relevant stakeholders involved in the development of the region. Akpabio has promised never to deviate from the mandate.

“NDDC was meant to address the development challenges in the Niger Delta region but the commission has only enriched a few people in the past leaving the mission and vision not actualized. Faceless contractors have pocketed funds for projects and were never executed”.

“Akpabio is tested and trusted. As commissioner, senator and governor, he performed excellently. Unarguably, Akpabio is among the ministers that would perform very well in this administration and should be allowed to concentrate on transforming NDDC. GPMI believes that he will do greater things if given a higher national assignments”.

Under the supervision of Senator Akpabio, a forensic audit was carried out to unravel corruption and bad corporate governance in the commission.

“The Minister as we know him has been a detribalised and generous individual. His personal aides and workers hail from different states in the Niger Delta region and the country. Besides, the minister is known for presenting opportunities to people based only on their competencies”.

“He has carried all stakeholders in the Niger Delta along and that is why the region has remained peaceful since his emergence as a minister”.

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Less Than 3 Percent Of Kaduna Residents Have Health Insurance – KADCHMA

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Less than 3 percent of people out of about 9 million are covered by medical insurance under the Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Agency (KADCHMA) it has been revealed.

The revelation was made during a stakeholders meeting organized by the Kaduna Maternal Accountability Mechanism (KADMAM) with Partnership to Engage and Learn (PERL-EC) and Lafiya Programme.

Speaking on the matter, the representative of KADCHMA and Director of Operations, Dr Juliana Bungon said that apart from the state government employees only about 2000 individuals from the informal sector are registered with the scheme.

She added that  getting the informal sector to participate in the scheme had been difficult because they are not organized as the organized informal sector who are part and parcel of the trade unions.

She however added that the state government is making arrangement with farmers in the rural area to batter harvested food items with relevant agency so that they can be captured in the scheme.

” we are also going to vigorously involve cooperatives, desk officers in local governments as well as embark on massive sensitization with media to drive home the matter, ” she said.

Speaking earlier,  Mal Mustapha Juma’are  said that people must be part and parcel of the scheme so that the issue of out of pocket expenditure which hitherto had been a stumbling block to Nigerians resident in Kaduna state can be minimized.

Mal Juma’are who frowned at the paltry percentage of residents who have embraced the scheme called on participants to help in galvanizing the populace so that they can embrace it and make it their own.

Also speaking, the Co-Chair of Open Government Partnership (OGP) Hadiza Umar said that action in the area of sensitizing and enrolling the people of Kaduna state is necessary in order to curb or reduce the number of people dying daily from treatable diseases.

She said that Kaduna State will remain open in all its activities as she urged participants and stakeholders to share the information especially in the informal sector.

Mr Abel Adejor, on behalf of PERL-EC and Lafiya programme said that the aim of the meeting is for associations and organizations that are in the informal sector to be properly mobilized with adequate information for them to key into the scheme.

He further said that the civil societies and Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) will continue to give support to program for it to succeed in the state.

The meeting was made possible by the KADMAM in collaboration with KADCHMA and support from PERL-EC and Lafiya programme in partnership with UKAID.

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