AIRTIME With Onoshe Nwabuikwu 

Emeka Mba was until a few weeks ago the director general, DG of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC. He was appointed on May 9, 2013 under the Jonathan administration. On February 15, 2016, Mba, along with twenty-five other DGs including those of NTA, FRCN, VON, NOA was removed by the federal government. Like many of his colleagues, Mba had yet to finish his tenure as he still had a little over two years to end his five year tenure. Not a few people were displeased at this turn of events. Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a media advocacy group speaking through its executive director, Edetaen Ojo, reportedly described the removal of these DGS as “a blatant politicization of the offices and institutions.”

Undue politicization in Ojo’s view is not healthy. His reason being that “the laws establishing these institutions never intended that the fortunes of their principal officers should be tied to those of the political party in power. The credibility of these institutions is absolutely vital to their effectiveness in achieving the objectives for which they were established. Actions such as these, which include them in the spoils of office to be shared among the members of a victorious political party undermine their credibility, independence and integrity.”

“In any event, the chief executive of a regulatory body of the stature of the NBC and those of national public service media institutions and agencies should never be dismissed from office in the manner in which this has been done.”

The reaction of Ojo (and others who may share his views) is to be expected. However the objective of this article is not to focus on the removal of the DGs. Right or wrong, unfair or not, there will be ample time to dwell on that. I have chosen instead to shed some light on Emeka Mba’s successes as DG of NBC. In the face of Mba’s many measurable achievements at the helm in NBC, it has become imperative to highlight these. This serves on one hand to put things in proper perspective. Not to mention the fact that this will be useful to NBC’s incoming DG.

Before we proceed any further, to measure Mba’s achievements at the NBC, we must talk about perception. As AIRTIME columnist since May 1998, I have had cause to interact with a few DGs of the NBC: From Danladi Bako (late 90s) to Silas Yisa. (early 00s) to Yomi Bolarinwa, to Emeka Mba who took over from Engr. Bolarinwa. I first met Mba when he was DG of the National Film and Video Censors Board, NFVCB. And as far as the NBC is concerned, I can attest to the fact that these past two years and more, the organization had begun to regain its hitherto waning authority as a regulator of the broadcast sector. Almost everyone especially the NBC staff was drawing confidence from this fact.

This confidence wasn’t based on some empty ‘feel-good factor.’ From the onset, when Emeka Mba took over as DG, there was a deliberate effort to put together a well rounded team. This was tackled from the professional angle through training and retraining, in Nigeria and outside the country. Stagnated but deserving staff were promoted. Still on encouraging a well-rounded team, staff all over the country who were separated and working away from families were reunited through a more compassionate transfer scheme.

One of Mba’s first positive steps was increasing NBC’s international content market participation. Nigeria’s presence at important global industry events through the NBC was felt at annual content markets like MipTV (2013, 2014 & 2015), Mipcom (2013, 2014 & 2015) in Cannes France, DISCOP (2014 & 2015) in Johannesburg South Africa. Not to forget Africast organized by the NBC for African broadcasters back home in Abuja.

There were other accomplishments. Not just in how much was done within a short amount of time but in the quality of what was achieved. From the seemingly mundane to the very serious. For instance, the NBC is now very active on the social media. The Commission also has a revamped website. Then, in addition to acquiring an up to date modern recording equipment, the NBC has also secured the hosting rights for the 11th African Digital Switch Over Forum holding this year. Of course, these all happened under the leadership of Mba.

Perhaps the biggest of Emeka Mba’s successes at the NBC is digitization. You could say, he got to the NBC just in time. Prior to Mba’s coming, many staff complained they were left in the dark about this vital project they were supposed to be spearheading and were not allowed to attend capacity building events such the International Telecommunications Union, ITU conferences. Mba transformed NBC into a true hub for realizing the country’s ambitious plans for digitization.

It will be recalled that ITU had in 2006 resolved for the world to transit from analogue to digital broadcasting. Nigeria had missed two switchover deadlines -January 1st and June 17th 2015. The major obstacle to meeting these deadlines was inadequate or non-existent funding. To move this plan forward, NBC management under Mba came up with the innovative plan to source the funds outside the budget by using part of the proceeds from the sale of freed ‘digital dividend’ spectrum to fund Nigeria’s transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Nigeria appears to be on course towards a successful switchover because Mba approached the issue methodically. He leaves behind very useful structures and key initiatives including the high level framework, DSO contact team, several DSO awareness campaigns and licensing of signal distributors. Also key is the $1billion agreement with Kaeon Media and Media Concepts International to produce set-top-boxes in Nigeria to aid DSO and create jobs. Then there was the successful flag off of pilot DSO transmission in Jos, Plateau State.
From the foregoing, it’s clear that Emeka Mba left NBC better than he met it.

“Nigeria was a pariah state under Jonathan.”-Lai Mohammed
-AIT headlines, Thursday, February 18, 2016, 6 am-ish.
According to the (in)famous Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe, there is nothing wrong with killing an ant with a sledgehammer. At the very least, you’ll be sure the ant is very dead. In this case, our information minister thinks he has to ‘inform’ us at every turn how bad our lives were until May 29, 2015.

Surely, if we were all in Nigeria during our ‘pariah statehood’, it means we suffered the hardship that entailed. Why then do we need to relive it or be constantly reminded? Come March 29, that’s the next 23 days, it’ll be a year APC won the vote to change Nigeria. Would that anniversary be marked by reeling out the faults of the immediate past government?
Hearing how much worse we were is kind of like dying twice which is the equivalent of killing a corpse.

“Buhari in government for the Nigerian people.”-Osinbajo.
-HipTV, Wednesday February 24, 2016, 3.42 pm-ish.
I am not sure of the context this statement credited to the Vice-President was made. But if it was just an ‘abracadabraic’ move to bamboozle the gullible amongst us, it’s pointless. Actions are always going to trump words. Especially when people in government are speaking from both sides of the mouth. There is an aide to make a claim in the morning and another aide to refute said claim in the afternoon. Then in the evening, ‘Oga At The Top’ would cancel it all. Case in point, the issue of N5, 000 to the poor, vulnerable and later to nobody.

But for what it’s worth, except President Buhari has been searching for Nigerians living abroad in his too frequent trips abroad, visiting over 26 countries in less than eight months doesn’t show someone in government for the Nigerian people. It’s far easier to believe that he’s in government at the expense of the Nigerian people. He’s certainly travelling at taxpayers’ expense.‘

88th Academy Awards-Winners
•Best motion picture of the year:
•Performance by an actor in a leading role:
Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”)
•Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Brie Larson (“Room”)
•Achievement in directing:
“The Revenant” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
•Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”)
•Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Alicia Vikander ( “The Danish Girl”)
•Original screenplay:
“Spotlight” Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
•Adapted screenplay:
“The Big Short” Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
•Best animated feature film of the year:
“Inside Out” Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
•Best documentary feature:
“Amy” Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
•Best foreign language film of the year:
“Son of Saul” Hungary
•Achievement in cinematography:
“The Revenant” Emmanuel Lubezki
•Achievement in visual effects:
“Ex Machina” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
•Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):
“The Hateful Eight” Ennio Morricone
•Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):
“Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre” Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
•Achievement in costume design:
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Jenny Beavan
•Achievement in film editing:
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Margaret Sixel
•Best animated short film:
“Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
•Best documentary short subject:
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
•Best live action short film:
“Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage