President Muhammadu Buhari has approved reforms in the broadcasting industry, including the licensing of online radio and television stations.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja when he received members of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) on a courtesy visit.
While responding to a request made by BON for the review of the Broadcasting Code said, Mohammed said: “I just want to use this opportunity to inform you that Mr. President has already approved a review of the Broadcast Code to take care of many of the issues you have raised here.
“In particular, the president has approved that WebTVs and radio stations, including foreign broadcasters beaming signals into Nigeria, will be licensed because we must bring sanity into this industry. Mr. President has also approved a wide range of reforms in the industry which, at the appropriate platform, I will let you know,” he said.
Mohammed, who promised to carry along members of BON in the review of the Broadcasting Code, restated the commitment of the present administration to a free media.
“I have said it on many platforms that this administration is not about to gag the press. No! But we will appeal to the press to please self-regulate for the sake of this country and also for the sake of the industry itself,” he said.
The minister also appealed to BON to partner with the government in the promotion of peaceful co-existence and cohesion in order to engender progress and national development.
“Today, if anybody listens to what is being said on some radio or television stations, you will think that this country is at war or that Christians actually cannot live with Muslims or that there is a dichotomy between the North and the South. I think we need to appeal to you to use your platforms for the unity and cohesion of the country,” he said.
Mohammed had charged the heads of the public information organs to work hard to counter the hatred and hostility being orchestrated by naysayers by promoting national unity.
“In particular, this coterie of DGs here hold in their hands the destiny of this country, because you have the responsibility to tone down the hostility and the hatred that are threatening to engulf the country today.
“You all have very powerful platforms to dial down the tension of disunity and I think you have the responsibility, not only to Mr. President and this nation, but also to generations unborn to use your powerful platforms to restore unity back into the country.
“You should use your platforms to promote not just unity but also cordial relations among all groups, irrespective of ethnicity or religion,” he said.
The minister urged the heads of the information agencies to work with him to defeat those fanning the embers of discord by seizing the narrative and promoting the correct perspective about the country.
“We must seize and control the narrative and give the correct perception not just to Nigerians but the entire world and I am sure that with your cooperation, we can achieve this,” he said.
The minister, who thanked them for the congratulatory visit, said that his reappointment was a reflection of the confidence the president has on the information sector.
“Information sector is not just the minister alone. The sector is only coordinated and headed by the minister. The parastatals are also very crucial to the success of the ministry. Therefore, we should congratulate ourselves on the reappointment (because) it means Mr. President has confidence in our modest efforts,” he said.
In his remarks, the acting chairman of BON, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa, said that the re-appointment of the minister was deserved because he brought life and innovation to the broadcast industry during the first tenure of the administration.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation and director-general of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, said that the DGs came to congratulate the minister on his reappointment and to commit themselves to carrying out the mandate of their respective agencies.
He pledged the readiness of BON to key into the government’s agenda, especially the fight against fake news.
The other members of the delegation were the directors-general of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Dr. Mansur Liman; Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Mallam Yakubu Ibn Mohammed; Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu; National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Isha’q Modibbo Kawu, and the acting director-general of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation, Mrs. Ndidi Aimienwaw.
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