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Communique issued at the 3rd Annual Lecture and 25th Anniversary Event of the NBC

  • November 21, 2017
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A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE 3RD ANNUAL LECTURE AND 25TH  ANNIVERSARY EVENT  OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION WITH HELD ON THE 24TH  OF AUGUST, 2017 AT THE CONGRESS HALL OF THE TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL ABUJA.

PREAMBLE

 

The 25th Anniversary and 3rd Annual lecture of the National Broadcasting Commission was held at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja on Thursday, August 24, 2017. In attendance were the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, Chief Executive Officers of government parastatals and agencies, Captains of the broadcasting industry, Heads of Broadcast Organizations, Stakeholders and Gentlemen of the Press.

The Honorable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his Opening Remarks noted that NBC has come a long way and that ‘the reward for hard work is more work’. He observed that the job of the Commission has become more daunting in the face of preponderance of hate, seditious and dangerous speeches on the airwave. He warned that such triggered the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and that Nigeria, a multi religious and multi ethnic country, cannot afford to swing that way. Enjoining the Commission to ensure strict adherence to the NBC ACT and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code in order to ensure erring stations are sanctioned appropriately. He also used the opportunity to enumerate the numerous achievements of the Buhari administration, one of which is the solid support for the Digitization programme.   

 

The Director General, in his welcome address, disclosed that broadcasting was deregulated 25 years ago to open up the sector to accommodate various interest groups and to encourage citizen participation. He noted that an open broadcasting sector requires a vibrant Professional Regulatory Agency. Encomiums on the past Director Generals and Pioneer staff of the Commission were offered for the foundation laid that has grown to lead Africa. He reiterated the commitment of the Commission to President Buhari’s assertion that Nigeria will leverage on Digitization. 

 

In reminiscence, the pioneer Director General, Dr. Aaze Tom Adaba and the immediate past Director General, Engr. Yomi Bolarinwa, who was also a pioneer staff, observed with nostalgia that some industry players thought NBC would not survive. However, due to hard work and dedication of the management and staff of the Commission, it has been 25 vibrant years of Broadcast Regulation. While Dr. Adaba paid glowing tributes to NTA, from where most of the pioneer staff were poached, Engr. Bolarinwa recalled the difficult story of the DSO journey, and recognized the efforts of Dr. Silas Yisa, another past DG, to set the DSO Agenda.

 

The Special Guest of Honour at the occasion, His eminence, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III CFR, MNI, the Sultan of Sokoto, observed that the NBC had a strong foundation which has guided and shaped its focus. He commended the Pioneer DG and his team for an excellent job and extolled the theme of the celebration, On Cosmopolitanism: Nigeria Ethnic Politics and Communication of Hate. Noting that democracy encourages divergent views and freedom of speech, he however, frowned at the enormity of hate on media platforms, calling on the political class to develop sense of value amongst the people. His eminence further noted that if people hunger for acceptance and relevance, hate will continue to brew. While expressing support for criminalizing hate speeches, he encouraged leaders to banish hatred by paving way for Love and Cooperation. He obliged the NBC to courageously rise to check the trend of hateful Live programme which he considers very volatile, advocating that violators be sanctioned severely.

 

Goodwill messages were also received from Senator Suleiman Adokwe, the Senate Committee Chairman on Information and the Chairman Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria BON, Mr. John Momoh of Channels Television (Represented). Senator Adokwe appraised NBC as the Pioneer Regulatory Institution in Africa. He seized the opportunity to congratulate the Sultan who incidentally, was born on the same date as the NBC anniversary – (August 24).

 

Momoh in his goodwill message unequivocally condemned the enormity of hate speeches recorded prelude to 2015 General Election. He charged broadcasting stations to be more responsible and professional, but cautioned, that NBC should not be seen as intimidating broadcasters and bridling freedom of speech. The BON chairman further stressed the need for media organizations to train their operatives in Conflict and Crisis Reporting in Broadcasting. He expressed concern over the unregulated Social Media which he felt was the main platform for the propagation of hate.  

 

Plenary Session

Plenary had Mrs. Ayo Obe, a Legal Practitioner and former President of the Civil Liberties Organization of Nigeria as Moderator.

Discussants were,

  1. Professor Ethan Mijah of Nigeria Defence Academy
  2. Mr. Ezenwa Nwangwu Chairman Partners for Electoral Reforms Abuja
  3. Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy.
  4. Prof. Muhammed Bashir Ali, Head of Department Mass Communications Kaduna State University.

The following were some of the issues raised;

  1. Communication of hate creates the image of division which compromises the unity and peace of Nigeria;
  2. Hate and dangerous speeches do not happen in vacuum, they are traceable to political evolutions of the country
  3. The issue of hate speech or negative/inciting comments arise most times from debating actions of government. Therefore government should be responsive to the plight of the citizenry.
  4. Hate speech thrives because of political gains

 

Recommendations:

The discussants and the contributors from plenary recommended the following;

  • Media enjoined to change the narrative of hate by accentuating the Positives in our diversity;
  • Government advised to reduce the inequality which breeds hate and guarantee justice
  • The State should be in the lead of the change mantra
  • Political parties should denounce hate speeches
  • Family units should strive to discourage hate words in the home
  • State to take civics seriously and promote spirit of peaceful coexistence
  • NBC and the intelligence agencies to work in synergy
  • Broadcasters encouraged to produce programmes that will inject Peace, Love of Neighbor, Justice and Unity in to the National Discourse
  • Broadcasting Industry should rid itself of quacks and to allow professionals to hold sway
  •  NBC charged to distinguish between hate speech and criticism arising from political differences or conflict of opinion in the face of constitutional freedom of speech.
  • Media admonished to illuminate the positives and eliminate or play down on negatives when there is conflict of opinion.
  • NBC to regulate the proliferation of Phone-in Programmes.
  • NBC to enforce sanctions on infractions of the ACT and the Nigeria Broadcasting Code
  • Government and Judiciary enjoined to play down on incidences of hate speech in the media, and be forthcoming with correct information that affects the people.
  • Media enjoined to change the discourse from Hate speech to Justice, Education, Development etc
  • Education of Journalists is Key to eliminating Hate Speech. Broadcast media was encouraged to employ professionals and weed out quacks.
  • NBC advised to have a synergy with Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA)  for effective regulation

Over 300 guests were present at the occasion.

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