Let me start by congratulating the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for what I will term a double celebration today. This is because the Commission’s 2017 Annual Lecture coincides with the 25th anniversary of its establishment. There is no doubt that the
regulatory agency has come a long way from its modest beginnings to what it is today, through the hard work of its successive chief executives and indeed the entire staff.
2. It is said that the reward for success is more work. That means the NBC cannot rest on its oars in carrying out its task of regulating and controlling the broadcasting industry in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the challenges facing the NBC have never been more daunting,
considering the increasing propensity of some radio and television stations across the country to turn over their platforms to the purveyors of hate speech. It is the responsibility of the NBC to put these broadcast stations in check before they set the country on fire.
3. As many here will recall, a radio station called RTLMC (Radio-Television Libres des Milles Collines) played a significant role in inciting the violence that triggered the genocide in Rwanda, in which at least 800,000 people died over 100 days in 1994. Such is the power of the broadcast industry that no nation can afford to leave it in the hands of irresponsible, unpatriotic, hate-spewing persons.
4. As I said at the extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council on Information in Jos, Plateau State, which was called to address the issue of hate speech, disinformation and fake news, on July 21st 2017, in Nigeria today, the hate being spewed on some radio and television stations is so alarming. If you tune into many radio stations, for example, you will be shocked by the things being said, the careless incitement to violence and the level of insensitivity to the multi-religious, multi-ethnic nature of our country. Unfortunately,
even the hosts of such radio programmes do little or nothing to stop such incitements. Oftentimes, they are willing collaborators of hate speech campaigners. This must not be allowed to continue because it is detrimental to the unity and well-being of our country.
5. When we sounded the alarm about the growth of hate speech last year, many said we were crying wolf. Today, the issue is attracting the attention it deserves and this Administration has sounded a note of warning to all purveyors of hate. In the words of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and I quote: ”And I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that none will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence, especially because when we make these kind of pronouncements and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property, we are no longer in control.”
6. In fact, apart from trying hard to incite violence, the purveyors of hate speech are also deliberately giving the impression that this Administration has not achieved anything since assuming office in May 2015. This is false. No amount of hatred will obliterate the solid achievements of the Buhari Administration, under a most difficult situation.
7. Despite operating with just 45% of the funds available to the immediate past Administration, due largely to the fall in oil prices in our mono-product economy and the failure to save for the rainy day, this government has achieved so much more in so short a time. To put things in perspective, a country that has consistently produced more oil than Nigeria, despite having about one sixth of the Nigerian population, is today embroiled in the worst economic crisis in its history. There is shortage of food, medicine and everything, and there is hyper-inflation.
8. With Nigeria being affected by the same downturn in oil prices, coupled with years of monumental mismanagement of the country’s economy and the mindless and maddening looting of its treasury by rapacious public officials, why is Nigeria not in similar crisis as the country in question? My answer is simple: Because Nigeria has a President like Muhammadu Buhari!
9. The Buhari Administration has brought transparency to governance, thus laying a solid foundation for the country’s economic recovery and growth. The Treasury Single Account (TSA), which this Administration is implementing tenaciously, ensures that the government is able to monitor its revenue and spending; the modified tax system is improving tax collection; the agriculture sector is producing food in excess of what obtained one year ago, and the annual harvest is expected to triple this year, plus the government spent 1.3 trillion Naira on Capital projects in the 2016 budget, the highest in the country’s history, and this will increase year-on-year.
10. Does anyone remember the scandalous fuel subsidies that failed to deliver fuel to filling stations? What about the fertilizer subsidies that never guaranteed the availability of fertilizer to farmers? Today, fuel queues are gone with the phantom fuel subsidies.
Also, thanks to the resuscitation of 11 of the country’s moribund fertilizer blending plants, fertilizer is now available to farmers nationwide. In fact, 6 million bags of fertilizers have been delivered at 30% below the market price, 50,000 jobs created and the 50 billion Naira saved with the stopping of fertilizer subsidy, all because of the revival of those blending plants. Six more are expected to come on stream soon.
11. The government is not done. Despite the paucity of funds, the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes are being implemented. the N-Power Volunteers Corps created 200,000 jobs in the first batch and 300,000 more will follow shortly; the Homegrown School Feeding is spreading from state to state, providing nutritious food
for school children and employing thousands of cooks; the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) is providing N5,000 monthly to one million vulnerable and poorest Nigerians; while the Micro-credit scheme will provide over a million Nigerians with small loans at very low rates through the Bank of Industry.
12. There are more solid achievements, including the sustainable funding of the Oil and Gas Industry Joint Ventures.
A plan approved by the Federal Executive Council is set to increase the net Federal Government revenue per annum by about $2 billion, lead to an increase in national production from the current 2.2 million barrels per day to 2.5 mbpd by 2019 and double the net payments to the Federation Account, from about $7 billion to over $14 billion by 2020.
13. Despite the cowardly bombing of soft targets, the Boko Haram insurgency is not in resurgence. Our gallant troops are ensuring that. The Fight Against Corruption is unrelenting, as alleged looters are forfeiting the proceeds of their ill-gotten wealth and the corrupt are unable to sleep easy. The government is also delivering on critical infrastructure like roads and railways. Contractors are back to work on roads across the six geo-political zones, helping to recover lost jobs and put some money back in circulation, as part of a government strategy to build out of this recession.
14. Returning to the economic front, figures just released by the National Bureau of Statistics have revealed a growth of 95 per cent in capital importation/Foreign Direct Investment in the second Quarter of 2017, over the First Quarter. Also, Year on Year increased by 43.6 per cent over the Q2 figure in 2016. This is cheering news.
15. Your Eminence, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, no amount of hatred being orchestrated by the naysayers will prevent honest and patriotic Nigerians from seeing the strides being made by this Administration at a difficult time in the history of our nation. What is required is the support of all Nigerians to enable their country to assume its rightful place in the comity of nations and make life more bearable for our citizens. Hate speech, disinformation, fake news, fanning of the embers of disunity and undermining the peace and security of the nation in the name of politics must stop.
16. As the NBC celebrates what is a milestone – a quarter of a century – in its existence, I urge the Commission to redouble its efforts in discharging its mandate. The NBC must ensure a strict adherence to the Broadcasting Code, and errant stations must be sanctioned accordingly to serve as a deterrent. The nation looks up to the NBC to restore sanity to the broadcast industry. The Commission cannot afford to do any less at this critical time. It cannot afford to fail the nation.
17. I thank you all for your kind attention