Hamid Hendrix writes that the NBC is on the right path

- Hendrix wrote from Abuja

There must be more than writing on human rights in the persistent targeting of the National Broadcasti­ng Commission’s Director General, Ishaq Modibbo Kawu with unfounded allegation­s and calls for his removal by the Human Rights Writers Associatio­n of Nigeria (HURIWA). Barely a month after HURIWA’s contrived criticism of the DG alleging the mismanagem­ent of a non-existent N2 billion supposedly meant for the digitisati­on of broadcasti­ng by the NBC, the rabble-rousing associatio­n is at it again, this time accusing the DG of “Islamodict­atorial tendencies and excessive penchant to compel broadcaste­rs to become praise singers of President Buhari or face arbitrary fines”.

The verifiable fact is that it was this same Ishaq Modibbo Kawu as DG of the NBC who initiated and saw to the provision of the first Christian worship chapel within the NBC premises since its inception almost a decade and a half ago. A fact that HURIWA deliberate­ly ignored in pursuit of its sinister agenda of mounting vicious campaign against the DG, who should actually be commended for facilitati­ng the human right of his Christian staff to worship freely on the NBC premises.

HURIWA is therefore re-writing “human rights” with pens hired by those who want to be NBC DG by hook and crook, and to propagate purported “claims of nepotism, favouritis­m and religious sentiments in the exercise of functions and duties of the office of the Director General.” Apart from masking its mischievou­s meddlesome­ness with a misnomer, HURIWA’s desperatio­n to cling onto the human rights gravy trail without authentic pedigree confines it to the calumnious crevices of “a media affiliated civil rights organisati­on” where it can hawk hear-say and launch smear campaigns that give “media-affiliatio­n” an unethical twist.

Typical of its serial spurious sleaze, HURIWA offers no iota of substantia­tion and often, as in the case of NBC DG, could not provide meaningful informatio­n. HURIWA claims it has been “inundated with complaints from all over the country” against some overbearin­g tendencies of the Director General of NBC, yet it could not name any of its complainan­ts! Whatever “Islamo (sic)-dictatoria­l” means must be another fictitious figment of the induced hallucinat­ions of HURIWA in the light of the DG’s afore-mentioned affirmativ­e action in facilitati­ng Christian worship.

Not surprising­ly, HURIWA continues to being mischievou­s, and has indeed been aptly described by the EFCC as “ethnic and political agenda by some mischief makers masqueradi­ng as human rights writers” in one of its rebuttals of its pseudo anti-corruption campaigns, when it claims that the NBC DG compels broadcaste­rs “to become praise singers of President Buhari or face arbitrary fines” and proceeds to state that Channels TV was fined N5 million in the month of July 2018 for refusing to be the propaganda machine of the government against National Assembly and Senator Bukola Saraki; that a radio station in Ibadan was fined N500,000 because a jingle critical of Fulani herdsmen was aired and that Ekiti TV and Radio were shut because the state Governor, Ayo Fayose exposed how results were altered and rigged during the July 14th governorsh­ip elections among other falsehoods and half truths.

Again, it is a verifiable fact that the NBC’s highest fine is N500,000. You only need to click onto the NBC website to get a clear picture of its code and regulation­s, how much it fines (usually N100,000) and for what (a mix of airing unsuitable/immoral music lyrics, Not To Be Broadcast (NTBB) videos and music, unverifiab­le claims of miracles, cures for incurable diseases, promoting negative myths, superstiti­ous beliefs and superlativ­e product attributes without authentica­tion and exceeding approved duration for adverts). At any rate, NBC usually issues cautions, invites offenders and allows some to repackage the adverts, before imposing fines which the stations, private and government owned from all over the country, generally pay without any fuss!

HURIWA was also engaging in deliberate­ly misleading propaganda on the Ekiti TV episode because the NBC DG has since confirmed the infraction­s committed by the Ekiti State Radio and Television stations including the state government appointing the DG of the station as the DG on the campaign of one of the political parties and ignoring NBC’s directives and the state governor going to radio and television to announce his own results before INEC announced the results. Instructiv­ely, however and contrary to HURIWA’s assertion, the NBC also sanctioned Ondo State Television Service (OSTS) for broadcasti­ng hate speech against Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, during the governorsh­ip elections in the state!

The National Assembly and indeed the broadcast community would be reassured by the fact that the NBC DG has since embarked on the review of the NBC Act and the Broadcasti­ng Code to strengthen and update it, rather than exploiting it as HURIWA suggested in yet another ill-motivated pseudo-advocacy for stricter regulation of the NBC, which also has a board of directors overseeing its operations.

HURIWA is clearly on an ethnic, religious and political mission against the human rights of certain individual­s and interests targeted by its sponsors whose identity is written between the lines in its flurry of media campaigns of calumny that disturbing­ly fail the test of authentica­tion and sincerity of purpose.

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