On behalf of members of the Board of Management and staff spread over 10 Zonal Offices and 24 State Offices across Nigeria, I welcome you all to this special day, in the history of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Twenty-Five years ago, today, in 1992, Nigeria’s broadcasting industry’s regulatory body was established. The background was clear. Broadcasting could no longer be the monopoly of the Nigerian state, in the context of the increasingly open socio-economic ambiance the world was being organized.
Citizens in countries, even in the post-colonial countries, were becoming more assertive; asking questions about the organization of their societies; they were claiming the right to establish broadcasting outfits, to further public discourse, as well as avenues for entrepreneurial engagement.
Nigeria was under military rule at the time, but it was not lost even on the military administration, that the country, could not be an exception to an international trend. If the vision was to create open economies, then there was no way, that we could maintain a broadcasting environment, which was not open up to the participation of Nigerians: intrepid entrepreneurs and always very assertive of our rights to open debate and discourse, about the nation’s development process.
It was within this context, that the NBC was established. An open, broadcasting sector, must also have in place a regulatory institution, to license; monitor and regulate the industry. It is to the eternal credit of the pioneer leadership of the NBC, led by Dr. Tom Adaba that nurtured the deregulated broadcasting industry.
They worked firmly and fairly, not only to build the Commission but also to ensure that broadcasting followed the straight and narrow path, which the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, prescribed.
We cannot over-emphasize the unique work done over the past 25 years, by all the Directors-General, Directors and the dedicated generations of staff.
Today, the National Broadcasting Commission regulates a broadcasting industry that has grown exponentially and has become a major force on the African continent. We are leading the process towards the transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting.
Pursuant to that, in April 2016, a pilot phase of that transition was commenced in Jos, Plateau State. We offered a multiplex of 15 television channels to the people on the Plateau; a process that taught us lessons, about the possibilities and challenges of an actual Digital Broadcasting switch on. Lessons learned from that pilot phase, were taken on board, in the decision we took, to do the switch over in the FCT, in December 2016.
In Abuja, we offered two multiplexes of 30 television channels. What was unique in Abuja, was the fact that it was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. And the main kernel of that event was the statement made openly, that the Buhari Administration is irrevocably committed to the Digital switch over in Nigeria. Not only that, President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently asserted that Nigeria is going to leverage on the new Digital Revolution to create a national digital economy, targeted at creating opportunities and accesses for our country’s very creative young people.
At the NBC, the work we are doing on the platform of digital broadcasting, flows DIRECTLY from President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision, for a digital economy that works for Nigeria’s young population. By the time we conclude the transition from Analogue to Digital Broadcasting in Nigeria, the Buhari administration would have created millions of new jobs; while a new platform of television viewership experience would also have been given to all the Nigerian people.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen; we have also finished work on the review of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. That is the instrument that regulates our industry. All licensees of the NBC operate on the basis of the letters of our CODE. And by the time that newly-reviewed instrument is presented publicly to the industry, Nigerians would discover that we have included three new innovations.
These concern the Nature of Local Content, to assist in the protection of creative jobs within the Nigerian Economy; we also made new regulations about advertising spend for the development of the Nigerian sports industry and finally, we defined and provided sanctions against Hate and Dangerous Speech. That final piece came from a major study carried out by the NBC on Hate and Dangerous Speech, by a major Nigerian consortium of intellectuals. It is this realization of the danger which Hate and Dangerous Speech pose to our national well-being, that made us choose our theme for this year’s event.
On a final note, I want to thank His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, for accepting to be the Special Guest of Honour today. When I called him a few months ago, he readily agreed to honour us at the NBC. The role that the Sultan has continued to play, for the development of our country, remains most admirable. He brings the power of his moral authority to assist in the difficult duty of nation building. We are very glad, Your Eminence, that you accepted our invitation. I want to seek your indulgences, to particularly recognize a modest, self-effacing Special Guest, who played a very critical role in the broadcasting tradition of Nigeria.
If you remember Siene All-Well Browne; John Momoh; Soni Irabor; Yori Folarin, and generations of distinguished broadcast announcers and newsreaders on radio and television; these great names that we all loved to listen to on radio or watch on television, were taught PHONETICS and Presentation, by a woman that we have invited to this event today. I had the privilege of having been taught at the Radio Nigeria Training School’s Language Laboratory, 39 years ago, as a young Announcer, by the same woman. I speak English the way I do today, because I was taught basic phonetics, by Mrs. Stella Awani.
NBC’s 25th Anniversary today also coincides with the birthday of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto. Happy Birthday to Your Eminence. We cannot have a better coincidence!
Thank You Very Much for Your Attention.
Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu