I am very pleased to welcome you all to this gathering this morning. Gathered here are representatives of the NBC and the leaders of Pinnacle Communications Limited.
Since my assumption of office as the Director General of the NBC, I have made a concerted effort to meet different stakeholders of our industry as well as the publics of the NBC. Those consultations were a conscious part of a process of not only attuning myself with the varied perspectives within the industry, they were also to help me know better the processes, perspectives and personalities, that influence the environment within which our Commission carries out its functions as regulator of Nigerian broadcasting. So our gathering today, which brings us together with the leaders of Pinnacle Communications Limited, is therefore part of that process of orientation for me.
There is however a greater imperative for today’s meeting than many of the other meetings that I have held in the past two to three months. This is because there is a subsisting legal issue between Pinnacle Communications Limited and the National Broadcasting Commission. In truth, we did not have to reach the point where the relationship between us broke down to the point of one of the parties, would decide to go to the courts to seek legal redress. Pinnacle Communications Limited is a very strong leader in the Nigerian broadcasting industry. And over the years, our commission developed a very cordial and mutually-beneficial relationship with them. We collaborated in different areas of endeavor that further strengthened our relationship. When Pinnacle Communications Limited became the preferred bidders and winners of the Second National License as the Second signal distributors for the Nigerian Digital Switch Over (DSO), it looked like a consolidation of a process that was going to help us speed up the Nigerian digital switchover. Unfortunately, it was soon after that process, that the relationship between the two parties became strained leading to the institution of a legal action by Pinnacle Communications Limited.
The irony could not have been lost to all the parties involved in the Nigerian digital transition process, that the ONLY company that has strongly shown commitment to that process, by paying a huge sum of money to become the Second National Signal Distributor, is now the one that has gone to court. So while other stakeholders were brought into the process, and business went on, there was an elephant in the room, which everyone seemed to pretend was not consequential. And that was the legal action taken by Pinnacle Communications Limited. Yet, it was clear that for as long as it was not resolved, one way or the other, the DSO was going to remain tainted and mired in some form of controversy.
So finding a resolution to that problem was an important issue for me, from the moment that I was appointed Director General of the NBC. We held several meetings with representatives of Pinnacle Communications Limited on the sore points, that led to their seeking legal redress. And our Minister, Alhaji Lai Muhammed also played a major role in seeking a resolution of the impasse as well as giving the reassurances, that led us to a point where the two parties agreed that we needed to move on from distrust, to a re-affirmation of commitment to finding success, collectively, for the Nigerian DSO. This is the background to today’s meeting between the NBC and Pinnacle Communications Limited. I am happy to report that we have reached substantial agreement in the interest of Nigeria’s DSO. Pinnacle Communications Limited is fully back into the DSO process. Similarly, we have also taken a decision, going forwards, that Pinnacle Communications Limited, would serve as the signal distributors for the next phase of the DSO, for which we have tentatively chosen the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. That decision is a reflection of how far we have gone to remove distrust between the parties. It is also a vote of confidence in the ability of a Nigerian company, in this case, Pinnacle Communications Limited, to be part of a historic process, that of the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting in our country.
Finally, I want to assure all our stakeholders of the commitment of the National Broadcasting Commission, to continue to provide the level playing field for the resolution of problems that might arise in the process of the DSO. We are on the cusp of history and we are determined to complete the process to the satisfaction of the Nigerian people. It should be underscored, that President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to this process and his inspired leadership has been behind the drive to ensure that Nigeria does not miss the DSO deadline of June 2017.
I thank you all for your attention