Alhaji Lateef Bolarinwa, Chairman of the Kwara State All Progressives Congress (APC) faction loyal to Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, has emerged Chairman of the Board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). His appointment was announced on Wednesday in a statement conveying President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the reconstitution of the NBC Board, following the expiration of the tenure of the former board.
Bolarinwa, a former member of the House of Representatives representing Lagos Mainland, was the Caretaker Committee Chairman, but was removed following the disagreement between Governor Abdulrazak Abdulrahaman of Kwara State and Mohammed over the control of party in the state.
During the state congress of the party, Mohammed’s faction held its parallel congress where Bolarinwa emerged Chairman.
However, the party’s Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) recognized declined to recognize the congress held by Mohammed’s faction, but that of the one headed by the governor.
Other members appointed to represent various interests as prescribed by the NBC Act include Mr. Wada Asab Ibrahim, Mr. Iheanyichukwu Azubike Dike, Mrs. Adesola Oyinloye Ndu and Mr. Olaniyan Olatunji Badmus.
Also on the board are Mr. Bashir Ibrahim, Mr. Obiora Ilo, Mr, Ahmad Sajo, Engr. Bayo Erikitola, who is representing the State Security Service; a representative of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture as well as the Director-General of the Commission. The board has a three-year tenure.
The previous NBC Board and the Minister fell out two years ago over the 6th National Broadcasting Code (NB Code), which the Minister presented on 26 March, 2020 at the L’eola Hotel in Lagos.
. At a press conference in Abuja, the former Board declared the code presented by the Minister as illegal and unfit to be used for the regulation of broadcasting in the country. It explained that the code had been publicly presented in 2019 in Kano and alleged that the Minister had, afterwards, unilaterally carried out a review without input of other stakeholders.
At the press conference, Alhaji Ika Aliyu Bilbis, then Chairman of the Board, and his colleagues stated that 55 institutions and stakeholders, including the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Independent Broadcast Association of Nigeria (IBAN), private media outfits, broadcasters, notable media Intellectuals, communication experts and Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, separately wrote to the Board to express their rejection of the code.
‘’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 with in 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 lose 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’’, the NBC board said.
The Board noted that a review of the code is undertaken every four years and involves NBC staff, former DGs, retired NBC Directors and other relevant industry stakeholders.
’These, according to the Board, 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.
‘’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 Honourable Minister has acted alone with just a handful of his loyalists who have written a new NB Code that has created 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’’, the Board explained.
It further stated that the Minister’s version was at variance with every known criterion 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.’’
The board further noted that the version of the Code presented by the Minister contains disturbing provisions that had attracted critical comments with threats of litigation from organisations and individuals.
The board explained that those amendments were inserted to destroy the hard work of others and appropriate their intellectual property by new entrants into the industry.