By Sylvester Idowu
The Managing Director of DAS Energy Services in Udu, Delta State, Mr. Sunny Onuesoke has called for the review of the codes of Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
He said the call became necessary to avoid the Commission’s alleged present biases against private media houses thus making it an “irregular” regulator.
Onuesoke, who was reacting to question at Asaba, Delta State on the over bearing of NBC on private stations recalled that NBC, which was established by Decree 38 of 1992, to register, regulate and control broadcasting in Nigeria, had derailed from its functions.
He maintained that it was unfortunate that it has been established that the commission had derailed from its original functions by serving as an agent of government thereby beclouding its agenda of pluralism in the broadcast sector.
Onuesoke, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the state, explained that in order to uphold democratic principles in Nigeria, it would be pertinent to adopt the principles of the libertarian theory by reviewing the Nigerian Broadcasting Code and its application, and create an equal competitive atmosphere for all and sundry, adding that this will be in line with the international standard that preaches against indecent content for equal opportunities and the fairness doctrine.
He noted that the inability of NBC to exercise its duties independently rests on the fact that the power to issue licenses is with the President, and not the Commission, stressing that the laws erroneously gave the Commission too much powers making it a regulator and an arbitrator which made it to commit some fundamental flaws that places the country far behind other nations in terms of positive regulation.
“Does the constitution grant the power to the NBC to accuse, try and sanction the media without recourse to the law courts? Where is the constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing? Who determines whether an item is offensive or it is within the ambit of free speech and the right to know? Surely, the NBC’s action is highhanded and must be reversed. In a more litigious society, the law courts would have been brimming with cases against the NBC,” he stated.
The PDP Chieftain argued that rather than stoke the fire of suspicion between government and the media, NBC must be cautious in carrying out its regulatory function, adding that the responsibility of NBC is, first of all, to the people and not necessarily to any reigning government or its officials.
Onuesoke who stated that NBC must not give any impression of being used for partisan ends, stated that for some time now, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed whose ministry supervises the NBC has not hidden his desire to regulate social media through one form of legislation or the other under the guise of fighting fake news and hate speech.