A firm, Cable Channels Nigeria Limited (CCNL) has denied allegation that it collected N20 billion from the Federal Government for the procurement and distribution of FreeTv decoders to Nigerian homes for Digital Switch Over (DSO).
CCNL, a consortium of re-broadcast companies and promoters of FreeTv in Nigeria told reporters during a briefing in Abuja that there was no iota of truth in the allegation of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee on Digitisation.
Its Chairman, Sir Kunle Osisanya Afolabi, said it was disheartening that members of the House Committee failed to use the facilities at their disposal to unearth the truth about the operations of the company to enable them appreciate the impact it has made in the industry over the years.
Sir Afolabi, who spoke against the backdrop of the report of the Ad-hoc Committee and the controversy it has generated among industry players, insisted that even before the launch of DSO in December 2016, CCNL has remained a major industry player as a licensed Cable TV Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) operator in the country with vast knowledge and experience spanning more than 30 years.
He said: “CCNL is the official Nigerian licensed content aggregator for the DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) and DSAT Free-to-view platforms with the responsibilities to manage; market and promote to the final consumers as a part of the Nigerian National DSO Strategy.
“We have distributed about 630,000 FreeTv boxes in Abuja and Jos and their environs out of the 750,000 subsidised boxes as of today.
“The truth is that we have not being paid a dime for the over 150 channels that Nigerians are enjoying in their homes and we have been using shareholders’ funds to sustain our businesses in the belief that, by the time things take shape in the industry, our shareholders will also benefit.
“It is therefore misleading insinuations that CCNL was a new comer in the industry and has been paid huge amount of money to the tune of about N20 billion. This is not true and it is unfortunate that members of the National Assembly could not use their foot-soldiers to authenticate the reality about our predicament.
“Let me also emphasise that those dishing out some misinformation about the history of the industry in Nigeria do not know anything about the industry. But we believe the regulatory bodies will assert themselves and do the needful for the growth and development of the industry.
“We also believe that all hope is not lost regarding the digital switchover, but we want the present problems facing the industry to be iron out as soon as possible.”
Flanked by the Chief Executive Officer of the Company, Mr Rajiv Mekkat and other management staffers, Sir Afolabi said trouble started in the industry when some members of the ecosystem wanted to take on the roles of others.
According to him, at the inception of the digitisation process, all MMDS re-broadcast operators spread across the country were forced to digitise their services at costs well over N10 billion.
“In the transition from analogue to digital, these MMDS rebroadcast operators (12 of them) who had transited to digital since 2009 and operating under their collective business name Cable Channels Nigeria Limited were licensed to undertake their very familiar business of content aggregation.
“The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) decided to give the cable operators the aggregation licence in order to accommodate their invaluable experience in content aggregation business, their knowledge of the distribution network which they have been doing for over three decades, their relevance in the new television configuration, to help save some jobs of their workforce, to recoup, even on a long time basis some of their losses in giving up their investment for the country to go digital in compliance with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) directive and mindful of the many benefits freeing up of the spectrum would have on the economy of the country and many other reasons.
“However, CCNL is the only stakeholder in the comity of DSO operators’ chain that has not been funded till date. We rather paid licence fee and generate funding for our operations,” he said.
FG To Recover N614bn Debt From 35 States
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, says the Federal Government has resolved to recover N614 billion loan facility from 35 states of the federation.
The minister disclosed this when she briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
Ahmed said each of the affected 35 states received N17.5billion as bail out from the Federal Government.
She said that already the Council had agreed to constitute a team to finalise modalities for commencement of repayment of the loan facility.
The team, according to her, would be constituted from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Ministry of Finance.
The Minister of Finance said that she briefed NEC on the progress of the loan facility, detailing how the Federal Government has made a total of over N614 billion available to 35 States being N17.5 billion each.
“Council agreed to constitute a team from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the CBN and Ministry of Finance to finalise modalities for commencement of payment,’’ she said.
The minister further revealed that she updated the Council on the activities of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Excess Crude Account (ECA) and other special accounts of the federation.
She said the committee requested for extension of time to finalise and present its report during the next meeting of the Council.
On the $9billion dollars London Court judgement against Nigeria, the minister said the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had assured that Nigeria would appeal against the judgment.
I’ll Lift Nigerians Out Of Poverty – Minister
The new Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite, has promised to lift Nigerians out of poverty by developing the nation’s endowed natural resources.
He made the promise on Wednesday in Abuja when he assumed office shortly after he and other 42 ministers were sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Tide reports that the minister was received by directors in the ministry and some heads of parastatals and agencies under the ministry.
“I intend to learn quickly from all of you. I have been following the progress of Dr Kayode Fayemi, the immediate past minister of this ministry who did a lot of work.
“I also intend to learn the robes quickly with the Minister of State, so that we can contribute our quota to the development of the country, especially with regards to lifting people out of poverty.
“Mr President has promised to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years, at the end of tenure of this administration which is four years, we want to at least achieve 40 per cent of that,’’ he said.
Adegbite expressed optimism that the administration would achieve a lot at delivering the dividends of democracy.
The minister said he would stamp out corruption in the sector in line with the agenda of the Buhari administration.
“Corruption fight begins with all of us, if we can be disciplined in the little things we do in our privacy, it will be easier to fight corruption in the country.
“We will join efforts with the Federal Government in fighting corruption to ensure a corruption free society,’’ he said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Minister of State for the ministry, Dr Ikechukwu Ogor, said he would support the minister to achieve the vision for the sector.
Ogah solicited the support of members of staff of the ministry to achieve the vision.
“We will all work as a team to take this ministry to an enviable position,’’ he said.
The ministry‘s Permanent Secretary, Dr Abdulkadri Mu’azu, welcomed the ministers and gave them the break-down of the departments and operations.
He said the ministry was strategic to the country, especially with regards to diversification of the economy.
Muazu pledged the loyalty and dedication of the management and staff of the ministry to the ministers to enable them succeed the tasks ahead.
Some members of staff of the ministry expressed optimism that the ministers would bring to bear their experiences to take the ministry to greater heights.
CTA To Assist Farmers Access Drought, Flood Tolerant Seeds
The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), has revealed that it is working with partners in various countries to ensure that farmers have access to drought and flood-tolerant seeds.
This move became necessary following the rising effects of climate change which has a direct impact on agricultural activities.
The Senior Program Coordinator of CTA, Dr Oluyede Ajayi said agriculture is central to development in Africa, but unfortunately it is subjected to a lot of pressures of climate change, like drought, weather extremes that affect food production.
Dr Ajayi who spoke with newsmen in Abuja at the Regional Workshop on Climate Finance and Support Mechanism for a Resilient Agriculture Sector in West and Central Africa said the point they raised was how to improve investment to help farmers become resilient and promote food security in the face of extreme weather.
“One of the points that we raised is how we improve investment to help farmers become resilient and to promote food security in the face of extreme weather situations, to do that requires more than investment, unfortunately less than 10 per cent of fund that goes to the climate is spent on agriculture, we are expecting so much from agriculture, but the fund that goes into agriculture in terms of investment to address climate issues is very low.
“So, this meeting is being organised to brainstorm the practical ways to leverage funding and improve financing to support climate action in agriculture”, he said.
He further said that they were also working towards exposing farmers to climate technologies which would assist in increasing their yield even in unfriendly weather.
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