I want to thank the Honourable Odebunmi Olusegun, Chairman, House Committee on Information, National Orientation and Values; and the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, for being able to arrive today for the last day of our retreat. At yesterday’s opening ceremony, I highlighted the imperatives of this retreat. The last quarter of last year had been very difficult for the DSO process. Our stakeholders were locked in an unhealthy exchanges of bric brats that threatened the legitimacy of the process itself. There were accusations and counter-accusations which revealed a near breakdown of relationships. But we persisted with efforts to broker understanding amongst our stakeholders. And in that troubleshooting endeavor, we must thank the Honourable Minister for a persistent effort to assist us through the difficult times. Our persistence paid, and all the stakeholders were brought back together to work. Collectively, we achieved the launch of the DSO in Kwara and Kaduna states by the end of 2017.
The narrative around the DSO has positively evolved. We are now speaking about preparations for launches in Enugu and Osun states. Just as preparations have been spiked for the Delta and Gombe installations and subsequent launches. Two weeks ago, the Board of Management of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), met in Enugu, and we decided a tentative line up of the next set of states that we would be launching in 2018. And just before we arrived in Uyo, at the beginning of this week, we also heightened discussions about completing the digital mapping of our country. That process is vital for achieving the overall planning of the entire DSO mapping of Nigeria. There were many other issues that we examined in the preparations for this retreat.
Our sense of this week’s gathering is that we have a very good opportunity, to solve some of the problems associated with the DSO process, especially those relating to the streams of revenue that would accrue to the stakeholders. That has been central to a lot of the disputes. There were overlaps in the functions assigned to stakeholders as well, that we felt the positive ambience we have on our hands now, would assist us to deal with, once and for all. We have also proposed to the gathering the payment structures that we believe can be discussed, apropos the entire DSO value chain. I am glad to report to the Honourable Minister, that the discussions yesterday were frank and very businesslike! I think the stakeholders are desirous of finding solutions and are committed to the process. And all of us are aware that the window of opportunity that we have constantly narrows. If we miss it, we would jeopardize the process.
What do I mean by that? The relentless march of technology is changing the spaces of media and communication. As the cost of data continues to drop, it would become easier for media content to be consumed in a different manner, and largely it would from hand held devices. That would increasingly consign our processes into marginal communities. That danger is real! The second threat is the demographic reality of our country. Nigeria’s population today, is 193, 706, 391,according to WORLDOMETER, the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. It is a worldwide population tracking system. If you check the demographic breakdown of that population, the median age is 17.9 years! 50.2% of that population now lives in the urban areas of our country. And because it is mainly a population of young people, they are increasingly consuming media, including television content in a different way. That process will accelerate into the future. It is important for all our DSO stakeholders to understand these realities, to help us seize this window of opportunity, and hopefully turn threat to advantage, by moving in an accelerated manner, to solve all lingering problems. We should then improve on our collective engagements so that we can use 2018 as the year to accelerate the DSO coverage of our country.I honestly believe that we can achieve a lot, given the spirit of friendliness and cooperation that we now have on our hands.
Once again, I will like to thank the Honourable Minister for the commitment that you have consistent shown to helping us take the DSO forwards. Similarly, we must acknowledge the cooperation we always receive from the two chairmen of the National Assembly, that oversee our work: Senator Suleiman Adokwe of the Senate Committee on Information and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Honourable Odebunmi Olusegun. I welcome you all to the second day of our DSO Stakeholders’ retreat.