I will like to welcome the distinguished cast of the leaders, present amongst us today. It is this remarkable group who created the traditions that have defined the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). It is the remarkable labour that you expended over the years that formed our Commission. If we see a bit clearer from the standpoint of present thought and labour, it is because we are standing on the shoulders of the giants that you are. Thank you very much for honoring our invitation to be part of our gathering in this city, Kaduna. This is one of the three cities that I call home; the others are Abuja and my hometown, Ilorin. Your presence amongst us, allows us to tap into your knowledge of what the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has been and could be. Similarly, I want to welcome the members of staff of the Commission that have come from our zonal and state offices from across our vast but very lovely country, as well as those from the Headquarters, Abuja.
I will be completing the third month in office as Director-General of the NBC, by the end of this month; but, I am happy to report that in that short period, we have organized our monitoring conference, the last part of which will conclude in Ilorin, next week. At the end of last month, we were in Lagos for our broadcast summit and here we are gathered, to review the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. The process of review commenced before I came on board as DG, and a lot of preparatory work went into the draft document that we are gathered to review. It is testimony to the organizational work, which our Directorate of Broadcast Policy & Research has carried out, that we have the document in the format that we can critically review. As we all know, this critical phase of the review would be a platform for a broader level of review that will bring in other stakeholders into the process that hopefully, would lead us to have a Nigeria Broadcasting Code, that would be fit for purpose. That would be the result of a painstaking effort that this gathering is midwifing. What is most significant about our gathering this year, is the fact that we have broadened the base of participation in the review process. I fervently believed and argued for this broad base of participation, which has brought into the loop of work, officers from the level of Assistant Directors, because I felt that a more inclusive process, would give us a better document. I also felt that we needed to build the capacity and experience of this cadre of workers, because in the long run, they would be the people that will carry forwards, the traditions and institutional memory of the Commission into the future. I am delighted that our Board of Management agreed with me and approved the suggestion. I will like to let you know that I will come back to you, dear colleagues, to argue for the broadening of the stakeholder base to the review too, in order to take in the most representative and most critical segments of Nigerian civil society. The Nigeria Broadcasting Code should reflect the very best elements of Nigeria’s democratic aspirations and should become a document that is for and of the Nigerian people.
We are gathered to review the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, at a most critical, but exciting phase in Nigeria’s broadcasting history. We are less than a year away from the completion of the transition from analogue to a digital broadcasting nirvana. The world of broadcasting is definitively evolving from what we have always known, to a new era, with its peculiar challenges: the exciting possibilities as well as the frightening ghost that might accompany the transition. As regulators of Nigerian broadcasting, we are therefore at the forefront of the changes that digitization will bring forth, while also being caught up in the vortex of forces that the transition we are helping to bring about, might unleash. This is why the Nigeria Broadcasting Code has become even more essential as an instrument of regulatory work. It is the central instrument that helps us to keep the industry on the straight and narrow path of the highest professional and ethical standards. I hope the work that we are gathered to do at this retreat in the next few days, will help us concentrate minds about the challenges of the next phase of broadcasting’s evolution. We must have a Code that anticipates the challenges of the new era. Happily, in my view, we have brought to work with us individuals whose professional lives have very much been walked on the path of not only helping to create the Code, but helping to enforce its words.
It is my hope that in the next few days, we would bring out of the furnace of robust intellectual engagement, a Nigeria Broadcasting Code that will be in tune with the challenges of this phase of broadcasting development in the 21st Century. As part of my own widow’s mite, I had also requested that the UK’s Broadcasting Code be circulated to assist the work we have gathered to do at this retreat. I believe that we can tap into best international practices to help deepen the quality of our document too. I want to add that one of my hopes into the near future, is the conclusion of a collaborative relationship with other broadcast regulatory institutions around the world, to be able to share experience. When I went to London a few weeks ago, I began tentative exploratory talks in that direction. We live in an increasingly interdependent world, and the digital broadcasting experience, is one that all countries would invariably share. We can therefore make faster progress by learning from those who have made the transition earlier. We cannot afford the luxury but futile endeavor to re-invent the wheel!
So distinguished ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues, let us take this process seriously, in order to come out with a document that will help regulate broadcasting in our country to the best professional, ethical as well as patriotic standards. That is the remit we have to fulfill as Nigeria’s broadcast regulatory institution. I am convinced that we have the capacity to deliver on our mandate.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Kaduna and this retreat to review the 5th Edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, which would hopefully, midwife the 6th edition of our Code. Thank you very much for your attention