Remarks by HMIC, Alh. Lai Mohammed, at The Inauguration of The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Reform Implementation Committee in Abuja, 10/10/2019

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REMARKS BY THE HONORABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (NBC) REFORM IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, OCT. 9TH 2019

Good morning everyone, and welcome to this inauguration.

2. Please permit me to most sincerely thank the lady and gentlemen whom I have appointed to serve in the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Reform Implementation Committee. I am most delighted that you all made it here, despite the fairly-short notice. This is a testament to your patriotism, and I thank you all

3. Before I proceed to the reason we are here today, let me give you a quick background. Following deliberations at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of March 27th 2019, on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari directed me to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the Council

4. Consequently, I inaugurated a five-member committee on Wednesday, April 10th 2019 with the following terms of reference:

– Find out to what extent the NBC was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general elections.
– Recommend measures that could strengthen the NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.

5. The committee submitted its report on April 24th 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded the report to Mr. President, who has since approved them.

6. Highlights of the recommendations approved by Mr. President are as follows:
A) Independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
B) A review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect the following amendments;
– Upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency
– Wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station to attract suspension of license
– Upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
– Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTv and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria

C) Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC. At the moment, there are only about 200 Staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and television stations.
D) Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC
E) Enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their compromise in the line of duty

7. We are now at the implementation stage, hence I have appointed seven ‘wise’ men and woman to design the framework for the implementation. The members are

A) Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, Director of Monitoring of the NBC
B) Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, Acting Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON)
C) J.K. Ehicheoya, Esq, Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture
D) Hajia Binta Adamu Bello, Secretary, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON)
E) Mr. Ibrahim Jimoh, Director of Administration, FRCN
F) Hon. Agbo Kingsley Ndubuisi, Board Member, NBC
G) Mr. Joe Mutah, Chief Press Secretary, Federal Ministry of
Information and Culture

Prof. Idachaba will serve as the Chairman of the Committee, while Mr. Mutah will be the Secretary.

8. The terms of reference of the committee are as follows:

– To implement the recommendations of the committee on the NBC reforms as approved by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.
– To Immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC Act by the National Assembly
– To immediately assess and propose equipment, materials and training needed to make the NBC a modern and well-positioned regulator
– To liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the provision of the manpower needs of the Commission to enable it function optimally
– To work out the modalities for a competitive and reasonable salaries, wages and other welfare needs of the staff of the Commission
– To establish necessary protocols for the establishment or appointment of professionals or technocrats (non-partisan personality) to run the agency, and appointment into the board of the NBC
– To immediately establish and publicize a new sanctioning, fines and penalty regime that is in line with international best practice, promote professionalism and serve as a deterrent to erring practitioners against misconduct, especially hate speech, violence and spread of fake news
– To establish and publish a new regulation for the licensing of Web and Internet broadcasters/International broadcasters in Nigeria.
– And finally to end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of the broadcast industry

The Committee has six weeks to submit its report

9. I have no doubt that this Committee, which comprises highly-experienced professionals and administrators, will carry out a thorough job that will re-position the NBC as a effective and
efficient regulator

10. Once again, I thank you all for accepting to serve on this Committee, and I wish you successful deliberations