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A Season of Holding Talks at NBC – Okoh Aihe



A Season of Holding Talks at NBC – Okoh Aihe

In 1979, Prof. Ola Rotimi, playwright and wordsmith, a venerated idol of mine, who is resting in that fine place reserved only for the saints, wrote one of his plays, Holding Talks. The play falls into the genre of drama called theatre of the absurd, wherein a Barber and his Client are engaged in an endless conversation in search of nothing.

It is a long conversation over inanities. For instance, do you know Gabriel? The answer provokes a litany of harangue that really provides no answer. Or, your hand is shaking. It takes endless denial and submissions for the Barber to prove that his hand is not shaking.

A friend reminded me the other day that since 1979 when the Second Republic took off in this country, the nation has been engaged in ceaseless and meaningless talks; one after the other which the leadership knows, is not only a ruse, but at best intended to confuse the way forward.
The new boss at the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), has started his season of holding talks. I do not want to suggest in any way that what he is doing would be in the similitude of the situation described above, but to give a timely warning that time is counting for him and that he should engage in actions that will indemnify his name in the good books of history.

READ ALSO: NBC Suspends Channels TV’s ‘Politics Today’ For Interviewing IPOB Leader

Tagged Meetings with CEO and GMs of Broadcast Stations, the Talks have held in Kano, Enugu and Lagos, just last week, reserving Abuja for tomorrow, Thursday, August 26, 2021. This may not have been the road chosen by some other people if given the opportunity, as there would have been the need to marshal a proper direction and programme for the growth of the broadcast industry. But I can see some desperate measures for a man whose house is on fire and is scrambling to put it off.

I do not know Mallam Balarabe Shehu Ilelah but the template I see is akin to that of a good man saying, I come in peace. How do we work together to save the broadcast industry from dropping into the abyss where it is headed? For there is the need to accept that these are difficult times for broadcasting; except something urgent is done by somebody who comes with neutrality and less bias, there could be a spasm that will trouble the industry to no end.

I will attempt to do a summary of Illelah’s presentation at these meetings with the hope that it won’t be a parody of his position. It is as follows: Private Broadcasters are becoming the dominant players, quite in contrast with the situation in 1992 when the industry was deregulated; Broadcast Media not doing enough to educate Nigerians on happenings in the country; No time for Sensationalism, Public interest to occupy Centre of Broadcasting; Remember the Code, Remember the Broadcasting Act; Avoid Fake News; New Licenses for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Awarded; DSO Kano for Launch Soon; NBC to be Self-Funding in 2022, and a Plea for Broadcasters to meet their Financial Obligations to the Regulator, including 2.5 per cent on Turnover.

The message is good but it’s packaged in such a way that the truth does not prick the conscience of those destroying the sector. By 1992 private entrepreneurs were encouraged to invest in the broadcasting industry with the promise that Decree 38 of 1992, which has since become an Act of Parliament – CAP N11, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004, would provide a level playing field.
The field has really not been level ever since. Private Broadcasters have invested lots of money in the industry, acquiring state-of-the-art-technologies, while Government stations have remained as propaganda tools, unvested in, thus creating a kind of “they against us” situation. From my little understanding the success of the private stations, although most of them are just struggling to remain on air, irks the government so much that it seems there is always a search for opportunities to put private broadcasters on a leash.

It should trouble the new Director-General of the NBC that in the industry that he regulates, there are certain offices in the land, whether in States or at the Federal level, where some broadcasters must not step into. Programmes are packaged from these offices by a designated station for circulation to other broadcasters who, with grumblings, must air such programme as truth? There are things going wrong in the industry and the Illelah must try to resolve them frontally.

The new DG has a lot of hopes vested on the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the National Broadcasting Act CAP N11 Laws of the Federation, 2004. Ordinarily he should be on a safe terrain but I hate to disappoint him. The Acts gives too much power to the supervising Minister who, at any time, depending upon his mood, can actually trouble the industry a little bit just to give the operators some little jitters and remind them that the government is not too far away with a cane.

READ ALSO: Twitter: NBC Directs TV, Radio Stations To Deactivate Their Accounts

From my lay man’s point of view I will want to suggest that the Nigeria Broadcasted Code is a subsidiary legislation created by the NBC. However, the present Code launched on July 4, 2019, is so controversial that it has about fifteen cases in court challenging it. My candid advice, from one media practitioner to another, is for Illelah to generate the goodwill of inviting all parties in dispute for a roundtable discussion by way of reconciling disparate positions. That might just be one way to go because it is not very salutary to sweep debris over the truth.
Oh, just an ancillary remainder, NBC has little power over Social Media except some managed processes being pursued at the National Assembly are staggered into existence. Then they will be listed among the ammunitions being stock-piled against private broadcasting and free speech.

And one final point. While preparing for the DSO launch in Kano, it might just be a worthwhile exercise for Illelah to review the entire process so far and find ways to remedy the wrongs slowing down the implementation. My little hint is that one thing he may find out is that there are too many personal interests built into the DSO project. Little bubbles of conflict of interest that must have to be deflated, as they can be inimical and self-abort any process no matter how strong the superstructure is.
I wish him luck.


General News

9mobile Clears The Air On Its Director Being On UAE Terror List



9mobile Clears The Air On Its Director Being On UAE Terror List

9mobile says one Abdurrahman Ado Musa on the UAE list of terrorist financiers is not a director of the mobile telecommunications company.

The company, in a statement in Lagos, said ‘Abdulrrahman’ Ado ‘Musa’, named on the UAE list, was not the same as Abdulrahman Ado, its Executive Director of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs.

It said the resemblance in names was purely coincidental, adding that its director does not bear ‘Musa’.

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“Our Director, Abdulrahman Ado, is a respectable law-abiding Nigerian. He served the country diligently in public service for over three decades before transferring his services to the private sector.

“He served in various capacities and was Pioneer Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and Executive Commissioner, Licensing and Consumer Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission.

“As a law-abiding company that believes in the greatness of Nigeria, and the well-being of all its citizens, 9mobile would never accommodate any undesirable element within its management and staff,” it said.

9mobile urged the general public to kindly disregard the mistaken identity reported in the media.

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Facebook Launches ‘Smart Glass’ That Takes Photos



Facebook Launches 'Smart Glass' That Takes Photos

Social Media App ‘Facebook’ has launched its first ‘Smart Glass’ as a part of its attempt toward offering augmented-reality spectacles.

CEO/founder of Facebook made this known in a video as he believed that the glasses are going to be an important part of building the next computing platform

At the launch on Thursday, Facebook said the glasses line, called Ray-Ban Stories, would sell at a value starting from $299.

READ ALSO: Smart Schools Creation Already Initiated To Boost ICT – FG

It said the glasses, created in partnership with Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica (ESLX.PA), will allow wearers to listen to music, take calls or photos, make short videos, and share them across Facebook’s services using a companion app.

The social media giant, which reported revenue of about $86 billion in 2020, has been investing heavily in virtual and augmented reality.

It had developed hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and worked on wristband technologies to support augmented reality glasses.

Earlier, Facebook said it was testing a virtual reality (VR) remote work app where users of its Oculus Quest 2 headsets can hold meetings as avatar versions of themselves.

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Op Ed

A Plea For Understanding in Zamfara Tech Shutdown – Okoh Aihe



A Plea For Understanding in Zamfara Tech Shutdown – Okoh Aihe

I begin this material with a solicitation that you join me in prayers for a dear friend, Ahmed Abudulkadir who was kidnapped on Monday along with his daughter in Bakori, near Funtua in Katsina State. Ahmed is a nice fellow, a genuine go-happy gentleman who has no time for misery and regrets.

Ahmed has served his people without holding anything back. He was General Manager, Katsina State Television, before joining the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) where he retired as the Zonal Director in Maiduguri. The Maiduguri Zone also includes: Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi and Yobe. Before the Maiduguri posting, Ahmed was Head, Public Affairs of the Commission. It will be pertinent to observe here that with all the dangers in the Zone which includes the dreaded Sambisa forest, Ahmed traversed the whole of the area before retiring into farming in his native Katsina State.

Ahmed is a good man. Go to his Facebook posts and you will be overwhelmed with the love of one man for his family. Those who took him should look at the face of one gentleman that has given his best to his people and country and, please, release him to continue with his simple life. Let those who know how to pray, pray that God should come through for Ahmed and bring him and his daughter home safely.

Without a doubt things are spinning out of control in the country, demanding of all of us to encourage and support government in its actions to deal a lasting blow on the enemies of the land before the situation festers beyond redemption.

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The nation is not at war but some people are going through war daily. They say there is peace and some unsavory developments are exaggerated; the peace is as good as a man and the young daughter being kidnapped and that man, who is a father, is unable to play the role of a father and defend his family. Villages are attacked for hours and nearly obliterated but help does not come. The attackers choose very soft targets where they can engage in looting and in the dance of death unhindered and people are wondering what is going on in the land. Something has to give. And that came last week.

For the first time government took a decision to shut down telecommunications operations in Zamfara State to enable the gallant Nigerian forces intensify their operations in that part of the country, and the document which is top secret found its way to the public space and it has been trending ever since. I have asked myself severally, how did this happen? Who released this document without even contemplating the implications?

“The second paragraph of the letter dated September 3, 2021, reads: “The prevailing security situation in Zamfara State, has necessitated an immediate shutdown of all telecommunications services in the State from today September 03, 2021. This is to enable relevant security agencies carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the State,” the letter said.

I have looked at this material I couldn’t find anywhere it is marked ‘Top Secret.’ How could somebody make that type of puerile mistake where lives are concerned?

Be that as it may, I have also tried to assess the behavior of whoever leaked the letter, there is no justification whatsoever. I admit that this government may have engaged in some actions that were unwarranted and really irritating sometimes, making the citizenry to hold some of its actions in suspect, but that should not make anybody in the country to underestimate the danger staring us in the face.

I have been reliably informed that the letter was not intended for the public because of the security implications but the public got it, and I am suggesting that the public also get the more sobering message, which is to the effect that the situation in the land is no more a handshake between friends. It has never been. The hold has gone beyond the elbow and only this government enjoys the reason why it cannot declare these bandits terrorists.

Some guy spoke to me on Monday morning and painted a grim picture of what is happening in some of these States where the war on terror has been raging. The source explained that for whatever reason the bandits have taken arms against the nation, the acquiescing conspiracy of the locals, among them informants,  is even more dangerous and damaging. Among the locals are the agents who the bandits pay heavily; they include suppliers of food, diesel, fuel, and other necessities. My source lamented that it is worse when the security forces believe they are fighting for the people only for a tiny few among these people to betray their commitment and sacrifice with results that can be very discouraging, damaging and even deadly.

“They have informants all over the place and they are paying those people heavily. The people are doing it as a means of livelihood without knowing the dangers their actions constitute to the nation,” the source said.

READ ALSO: Bandits Invade Zamfara School For Fresh Mass Abduction Of Students

From all indications, what is being done is so technical that the ordinary folks were not supposed to be in the loop. There is a way the neighbouring States are affected causing some parts of Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna and Niger to suffer some collateral damage by propinquity. The technicality or those involved in the chain of implementation of the government’s directive shouldn’t be our concern but the results. I remain miffed by the fact that a communication was even released to this effect, which nearly jeopardized the entire process. My source is however encouraged by the results coming to them from the field of operations.

Here is my appeal. The situation in the land is so dire and so potentially explosive that we need, as a people, to escalate our thinking process and be able to squeeze reason out of irrationality. In the war against terror, government needs help and Nigerians should give it even at a cost.

For instance, the people of Zamfara are under a very terrible situation at the moment. That is a grave cut. The security forces are ready to pay with their lives by paying the ultimate price. How do we ever pay them back? The operators and their contractors with total service shutdown have taken their own cut. The rest of us should be ready to take a cut and support government’s actions towards bringing this nightmare to an end. This tech disruption in Zamfara is only but a phase that will soon pass.


Final take. Please remember Ahmed and his little daughter in your orison.

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