The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, Honourable Odebunmi Olusegun;
The deputy Chairman of the Committee, Honourable Fred A. Obua;
Honourable Members of the Committee;
Chairman of the Board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Alhaji Ikra Aliyu Bilbis, who is unavoidably absent this morning, but is represented by the Kogunan Sokoto, former DG of the NBC, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako;
Members of the Board of the NBC, Honourable Salihu Bamdele Aluko and Dr. Yusha’u Ahmed;
Members of the Management of the National Broadcasting Commission.
Members of staff who have put together the logistics for this retreat, from our Directorate of Human Resources & Administration; staff of the Public Affairs Department;
It is my pleasure to welcome this Distinguished cast, to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, and the lovely ambience of the Golden Tulip Hotel, for the opening of this NBC Management Retreat, with the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values. The idea of this gathering came soon after the inauguration of the National Assembly, last year; but it took concrete form, during the budget defense processes, towards the end of 2019. We had developed mutually-beneficial relationships with the Chairman, Honourable Odebunmi Olusegun, over the previous period in the 8th National Assembly. When the new, 9th National Assembly opened, we took a decision to consolidate our relationship with the Committee. But we also noticed that most of the old Members had been replaced with new Members. Yet, there was the imperative to assist them to understand the nature of the work that we do, at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as the regulatory body for broadcasting in Nigeria.
There are so many reasons why we needed to engage with the Committee. You have oversight responsibility over the work that we do. But how can you effectively do that, if you do not have a sufficient understanding of the complications that underline our work? What about the ecosystem of broadcasting in Nigeria? As of October 2019, we had a total of 726 radio and television stations; they breakdown as 445 radio stations and 281 television stations. Note that I said, that those were the figures by October 2019. New stations come on literally, every month. and as we speak, we are processing a long list of new commercial radio stations; DTT television outfits; community radio stations; campus broadcasters as well as public institutions’ radio stations. Next week, I will visit the new National Traffic Radio station at the premises of the Federal Road Safety Corps. The interest in Nigeria for broadcasting is growing everyday, and our duty at the NBC includes processing the applications for these; monitoring and regulating same, as well as generally ensuring that “broadcasting shall influence society positively, setting the agenda for the social, cultural, economic, political and technological development of (the) nation, for the public good”, according to the GENERAL PRINCIPLES of the NIGERIA BROADCASTING CODE, the 6th edition, of which we launched on the 4th of July, in 2019.
We literally police the Nigerian broadcasting environment on a 24-hour basis, to ensure that the Nigerian broadcaster, keeps to the letters of the law, and on a quarterly basis, we release a compendium of stations that we had warned, fined or sanctioned, one way or the other, during that period. We engage with our licensees on a permanent basis; investigate all manner of issues in relation to the broadcasting ecosystem and we also carry out researches on behalf of the industry. One of the major agendas of our industry today, is the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting. It is a major international commitment, that our country is undertaking, in consonance with the directives of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). As you might be aware, we have carried out the Digital Switch over (DSO), in six locations around the country. We want to accelerate the process of completion of the project around the country, but we face the challenge of financing. So as part of our retreat over these two days, we would present to you, an elaborate project report on the DSO, so you can understand why the NBC and all broadcasting stakeholders in the country, need the support of the National Assembly, and especially your Committee, for us to secure the funding to be able to complete the DSO.
So over the next two days, every Directorate of the NBC would present a picture of the work that it does to this retreat. You would be able to ask questions; seek clarifications and at the end of the retreat, we would have given you a reasoned tour through the entrails of the work that we do at the NBC. Our hope is that you would leave for the National Assembly, and your Committee work, better informed about the National Broadcasting Commission. We also want this to be the beginning of a better engagement with your Committee, so that when we come to defend our budgets, or you come for your oversight work, there would be a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of the work we do for the social, cultural, economic and political health of Nigeria, as the regulatory institution for Nigerian broadcasting. On a final note, let me tell you the story of our choice of this venue as location for this retreat. We had initially proposed to host you at the Ibom Resort in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. We had been there for many of our events in the past. Well, our amiable Chairman, Honourable Odebunmi Olusegun, had a different idea; he wanted us to substitute Afang and Ekpankukwo, with Amala and Ewedu. So we obliged him, and chose this lovely location in Ibadan, for this retreat. The wisdom here is that there is no part of this beautiful country, that is not home for all Nigerian patriots. You’re most welcome to Ibadan, the city of the FIRST television service on the African continent!!! Let’s make the next two days very worthy in the building and strengthening of the relationship between the NBC and the National Assembly in general, and the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, in particular.
Thank you very much for your attention!