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Hate Speech, Inciting Comments …As Stiffer Penalties For Broadcasting Code’s Violation Take Effect …Jonathan Keeps Mum After Meeting Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting laws to reflect stiffer penalties for violators of broadcasting regulations.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja while inaugurating the National Broadcasting Commission Reform Implementation Committee, said that the President specifically approved the upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5million for breaches relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
He said the President also approved that wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine on a station should attract suspension of license.
The minister said Buhari also approved the upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches and divisive comments to “Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
The President has also endorsed the implementation of reforms to end all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualisation of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
Other approvals by the President, according to the minister, are “Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTV and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beam signals into Nigeria.
“Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC. At the moment, there are only about 200 staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and television stations.
“Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC and enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their being compromised in the line of duty”.
The President, according to the minister, said that the reviewed code must also ensure the independence of the NBC from political interference in the exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
Mohammed said the decisions were a sequel to the deliberations at the Federal Executive Council meeting of March 27, on the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general election.
“The President directed me to institute an inquiry into the conduct of the stations and report back to the council
“Consequently, I inaugurated a five-member committee on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 with the following terms of reference: ‘To find out to what extent the NBC was able to effectively carry out its regulatory role before and during the 2019 general election.
“Recommend measures that could strengthen NBC’s regulatory role and make it more effective.
“The committee submitted its report on April 24, 2019, with 26 recommendations, and I subsequently forwarded the report to Mr. President, who has since approved them’,” he said.
The minister, therefore, charged the reform implementation committee to carry out a thorough job that will reposition the NBC as a effective and efficient regulator.
The Terms of Reference of the Implementation Committee, as listed by the minister, include to immediately commence work on all statutory, legal and regulatory framework for further legislative action on the review of the NBC Act by the National Assembly; to immediately assess and propose equipment, materials and training needed to make the NBC a modern and well-positioned regulator and to liaise with relevant agencies to ensure the provision of the manpower needs of the commission to enable it function optimally.
He also said the committee is to immediately establish and publicize a new sanctioning, fines and penalty regime that is in line with international best practice, promote professionalism and serve as a deterrent to erring practitioners against misconduct, especially hate speech, violence and spread of fake news.
The committee is also saddled with the responsibility of establishing and publishing a new regulation for the licensing of Web and Internet broadcasters/International broadcasters in Nigeria, in addition to ending all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of the broadcast industry.
The committee is chaired by the Director, Broadcast Monitoring of NBC, Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, while the Chief Press Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Joe Mutah, will serve as Secretary.
Other members are Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, Acting Chairman of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON); Mr. J.K. Ehicheoya, Esq, Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture; Hajia Binta Adamu Bello, Secretary General, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON); Mr. Ibrahim Jimoh, Director of Administration, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria; Hon. Agbo Kingsley Ndubuisi, Board Member, NBC, as members.
Meanwhile, the committee has six weeks to submit its report.
Also, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, declined to comment on the outcome of his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The agenda of the meeting between Buhari and Jonathan, which lasted for about 15 minutes, was not made known to newsmen.
The former president, who was escorted to his car by the State Chief of Protocol, Amb Lawal Kazaure, only answered greetings from State House correspondents and other staff.
When journalists tried to find out details of what transpired between him and Buhari, Jonathan simply shunned them, and hoped into his car, and drove off.
It would be recalled that Jonathan and Buhari had met behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to discuss a number of national issues.
The former president arrived the State House at 3.00p.m, and went straight to the President’s office for the meeting.
The former president, who was visiting the Presidential Villa for the fifth time since the swearing-in of the Buhari administration on May 29, 2015, was last seen in the State House in 2016.

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Buhari Orders Forensic Audit Of NDDC …Slashes Ministers’ Foreign Trips, Estacodes To Cut Cost

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President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from 2001 to 2019.
Buhari, in statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said the action was taken out of worry over criticisms of the operations of the commission, and after he received governors of nine states that make up the commission, who had called for the repositioning of the NDDC.
The delegation was led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State,
According to the President, what is presently on the ground in the South-South region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the organisation.
He said, “I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions, especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent.
“The President admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands”.
He said, “I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants.”
He, however, said that he would wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the NDDC.
Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors with the operations of the NDDC, which they said was characterised by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of the required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.
He called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up. Briefing journalists after the meeting, Dickson, who is also chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, listed the NDDC states as Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Edo, Cross River, Bayelsa, Abia, Imo and Ondo.
He said, “Our concern has to do with the stability and development of the Niger Delta. We had a robust discussion with Mr. President who fully understands the challenges that come with development, and he promised to look into the challenges which he’s aware of and we all agreed to work together”.
Present at the meeting were Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta); Nyesom Wike (Rivers); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio; Minister of State for Niger Delta, Senator Tayo Alasoadura; among others.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has reduced the number and duration of foreign trips for ministers and other categories of government officials in a move described as cost-saving measure to achieve fiscal prudence.
In a statement signed by the Director of Information at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Willie Bassey, the President also removed travelling financial benefit known as estacode allowance and cut down the number of persons permitted to travel with the ministers and other government officials for official trips.
The President, however, approved the use of business class for ministers and economy class for lower categories of government officials.
However, approval for such trips must be sought through the office of the SGF or Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, the statement added.
The statement read, “In a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of government, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved, for immediate implementation, additional cost-saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.
“Henceforth, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are required to submit their yearly travel plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
“For class of air travels, the President has approved that ministers, permanent secretaries, special advisers, senior special assistants to the President, chairmen of extra-ministerial departments and chief executive officers of parastatals, who are entitled will continue to fly business class while other categories of public officers are to travel on economy class.
“Travel days will no longer attract payment of estacode allowances as duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.”
The statement added that only trips that would benefit the country must be embarked upon by the affected officials, noting also that ministers and other categories of government officials must not travel more than twice within a quarter of a year except with the permission of the President.
It noted, “On the nature and frequency of travels, all public funded travels (local and foreign), must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence. In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country.
“Except with the express approval of Mr President, ministers, permanent secretaries, chairmen of extra-ministerial departments, chief executive officers and directors are restricted to not more than two foreign travels in a quarter. The Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible.”
Reacting, a financial expert, Mr Momoh Aliyu, has urged state governors to emulate the Federal Government by cutting down their travelling expenses and utilise it for development projects.
Aliyu gave the advice in an interview with newsmen, in Abuja, yesterday.
The expert was reacting to directive by the Federal Government that henceforth there would be slash in travelling expenses of its officials.
Aliyu, who is also the managing director of Cyber1 Systems Network International, explained that the development was a wake-up call to governors, and indeed, all other governments’ agencies in the country.
He said overhead cost of travelling in the budget was alarming and taking chunks of the vote heads.
“The action by the president is an act of setting the pace to other parastatals, ministries and states governments,’’ he said.
The expert said that the Nigerian Government had over the years been criticised of wasting and mismanaging the scarce resources.
He described the development as the right step in the right direction.
“The ministers and other government functionaries should understand the need to be on seat to attend to pressing issues.’’
Aliyu also acknowledged the efforts of the ministry of technology in ensuring e-government systems.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, reacted after President Muhammadu Buhari restricted foreign travels to two per quarter for heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
The government also cancelled first-class air tickets for some category of officials.
However, PDP challenged Buhari to “lead by example by ending the profligacy that pervades his Presidency in order to give validity to his directives to ministers and other functionaries.”
In a statement by its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the former ruling party berated the President for approving the appointment of two aides for his wife, Aisha.
The party charged the Buhari Buhari Presidency to explain the “basis and source of Presidential support for the Office of the First Lady, including the appointment of aides, contrary to his promise not to run that office.

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Monkeypox Hits Rivers, 12 Others As NCDC Records 81 Cases In Nine Months

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The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has revealed that Rivers State is among 12 others hit by fresh cases of monkeypox in the country.
Expectedly, Lagos State leads cases of monkeypox viral disease in the country.
Experts state that monkeypox is a viral disease related to smallpox and transmitted to humans through fluid exchange by rodents and primates.
In its latest report on the disease, NCDC states that overall, Nigeria has 81 total reported cases of the disease, with 39 confirmed cases spread across 13 states comprising Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Lagos, Akwa Ibom, and Enugu.
Others are: Cross River, Oyo, FCT, Bauchi, Zamfara, Borno and Plateau states.
The NCDC latest report, which detailed the monkeypox case distribution by states spanning January to September, 2019, and titled, ‘Nigeria Monkeypox Monthly Situation Report,’ with Serial Number 9, and released for the month of September, stated that there were 15 new suspected cases for the month under review, and five new confirmed cases.
It, however, said there was no reported death in all of the cases.
The report indicates that Lagos currently has the highest number of monkeypox disease with 29 total reported cases and 11 confirmed cases over the period.
Delta follows, with 14 reported cases and 10 confirmed cases.
Rivers State has 15 reported cases and seven confirmed; while Bayelsa has nine reported cases with six confirmed.
In the epidemiological summary, the NCDC states: “Nigeria continues to report sporadic cases of monkeypox after the index case was reported two years ago (September, 2017).
“In the reporting month (September, 2019), 15 new suspected monkeypox cases were reported from five states — Lagos (5), Rivers (2), Akwa Ibom (3), Zamfara (1), Delta (1), Imo (2) and the Federal Capital Territory (1).
“Five of the 15 suspected cases were confirmed positive for monkeypox in three states — Lagos (3), Rivers (1) and Akwa Ibom (1).
“Five of the suspected cases tested positive for chickenpox, while others are for further evaluation. No death recorded in the reporting month.”
The report added that a total of 81 suspected cases have been reported so far in 2019, of which 39 confirmed cases were recorded in nine states (Bayelsa, Lagos, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Anambra, Cross River, and Oyo); and one death.

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Teachers’ Professional Exams

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The idea of subjecting teachers in the service of the Federal Government to write a professional examination is generating some controversies. It may be considered as a damage-control strategy, because, if the right thing had been done, then, there would be no need to invite a fire brigade. Establishment of a Teachers Registration Council was meant to professionalise the job of teaching, which is an international practice. In some countries, a teacher, including proselytists, must have a licence before undertaking such activities.
The necessity for regulation of various professional or career practices is quite important. In the case of the education sector, the need is even greater because of the wide implication involved in mind-control activities.
Mind-Control activities include teaching, proselytism, writing to inform, educate and influence the perception of the masses, etc. Hypnosis must be excluded, even though it is a wide-spread malpractice, perhaps, not quite recognised by the relevant authorities.
A situation where those who teach, including some professors, can afford to speak such grammar as “those of us who teaches…” indicates the existence of fundamental inconsistencies somewhere. The inconsistencies arise from the absence of justice, selectiveness in terms of merits lack of vigour and discipline in recruitment, appointment and promotion of staff in public establishments. Damages crated at such grassroots levels result in the use of fire-brigade strategies when the effects begin to fester.
Without going into the damages which application of “Quota System” in appointments and promotions in Nigeria, public services had caused, we see the unpleasant results everywhere now. Neither would conducting of examinations for teachers and other civil servants solve the problems. A situation where people can be appointed and promoted without regard to merit and competence, and then placed in strategic and sensitive positions, what comes about cannot be anything to wonder about.
Anybody who knows the true situations in Nigerian public services, especially after the Civil War (1970), would be surprised at the resilience and ability of the nation to absorb shocks and jolts. The damage-control measure of administering examinations to teachers should not stop with teachers alone, but must be holistic and comprehensive, if it must yield positive results. If the exercise is done with sincerity and justice, what would emerge is that incompetent persons have been shielded for too long in the public services. No sector is free from the virus.
Having been an external examiner, one is aware that the shielding process of incompetent persons by god-fathers is widespread even in universities. Are we not aware that some powerful persons make phone calls to shield, protect or give undue advantages to candidates whom they sponsor? Sponsored social mobility is known to undermine merit and justice.
A healthy appointments and promotions process should be able to throw up the best and most competent candidates, rather than the use of sponsorship to install incompetent persons in public establishments. As it is in the public services so also it is in elective and political processes. It is a situation where people who place emphasis and value on merit and justice have lost confidence in what goes on under the pretext of “screening process”.
Whatever errors and injustices there may have been in the past, we can still have a turn-around for the better. The first lesson in that process is the application of the doctrine of positive discrimination, which is a process of bias-free identification and classification of people, ability-wise. What is known as occupational misfit arises from a mis-match between personal ability and competence vis-à-vis position occupied in an economy. The value of guidance/counselling in an economy lies in bias-free process of identification of personal abilities. Wheat must be separated from chaff!
A second lesson worthy of application in getting the best out of human abilities is current training programme which can simply be called knowledge update. No professional is so competent that regular knowledge up-date would not be necessary. Being an organist as an adolescent, and several years away from the music hobby, one finds it difficult now to know a quaver from a minim; neither can the fingers do what they knew best in the past.
The joy of knowledge or professional competence lies in its regular application and up-date. One there is laxity or relenting of efforts and continuity, these must always be a decline in competence and performance. No individual, organisation or nation has progressed by standing still or placing incompetent hands in strategic and sensitive positions. Similarly, wherever emphasis is placed on certificate rather than practical and visible competence, decline would follow. Nigerians have been known to fake certificates which they cannot make.
Of more importance in the case of declining productivity in Nigeria, is the complacent attitude of the elite class. Watch and observe what members of the elite class say and do in their leisure hours and what excites them most. The emptiness and oppressively narrow sphere of interest and superficiality of their value orientation would be found to be quite pathetic. A society where wealth replaces eternal values and where immediate personal gains replace joyful services and productive labour decline comes soon.
Similarly, a situation where pity wears the garb of meretricious self-righteousness, education would wear a similar garb of window-dressing. Nigerians would do better investing in a process of conscientization rather than setting examination for teachers. Would there not be any malpractice in such examination? Would the examiners not sell scores and grades for something else? We should know where the shoes are pinching.

 

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