Founding Chairman of Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi has called for the sack of the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo Kawu.
Dokpesi who staged a one-man protest to the National Assembly, Federal Ministry of Information, to the NBC headquarters and some embassies, said Kawu’s policies are strangulating the broadcast industry in Nigeria.
At a press conference in Abuja yesterday before he embarked on the protest, Dokpesi said the NBC has stalled the commissioning of Daar Communications plc., stations in Yola, Awka and Sokoto since 2016 by refusing to allow the commission’s engineers to inspect Daar Communications’ broadcast facilities for radio and television.
“The DG of NBC falsely accuses DAAR Communications Plc of being indebted to the commission for a license fee to the tune of N500 million,” he said.
He explained that the N500 million license fee was not debt from the previous licensing periods but started in 2016 when the new licensing came into effect.
According to him, “this figure has been rejected by the industry and the umbrella body for all broadcasters, BON, is still negotiating a reasonable and sustainable fee with the Government.
“The truth of the matter is that at the commencement of the current broadcast licence renewal period, the commission unilaterally fixed the network licensing fee for private network broadcasters at N500 million.
“The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) on behalf of all broadcasters made several representations to the National Broadcasting Commission that the fee is darn too high bearing in mind that the economic fortunes of our country and the collapse of industry in Nigeria.”
While private broadcast stations were charged N500 million, Dokpesi noted that state and federal government stations pay about N10 million annually and do not pay any taxes.
“This is in spite of the fact that these stations also have budgetary allocations, grants and subventions.
“Even at that, NBC sources have severally confirmed that these stations are also heavily indebted,” Dokpesi added.
He disclosed that the DG of NBC confessed to him that his refusal to grant the DAAR Communications request is because the broadcasting outfit would use the stations in those aforementioned locations to promote the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the detriment of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“I have no doubt in mind, therefore, the NBC under the leadership under Moddibo Kawu has become very high handed and tyrannical in its regulatory roles of the electronic media in Nigeria.
“I have it on good authority also that certain other privately licensed broadcasters have also been marked and pencilled down for humiliation, intimidation, endless queries and constant threats of revocations of broadcast licenses by the Moddibo Kawu lead NBC,” Dokpesi stated.
He noted that the Director General of the NBC, Moddibo Kawu, was an aspirant of the APC for the governorship of Kwara State in the recently concluded general elections.
Dokpesi further alleged that Kawu was dragged to court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on a 12-count-charge bordering on fraud in the digital switchover project.
He wondered whether the man could remain independent of external and clandestine influences.
“Can the scandal he is embroiled in be used to influence his performance as a regulator?
“Is it possible that he will go the extra mile over and beyond the powers of the NBC to gain favour from politicians and powers who may have an influence on whether to retain him as DG and offer him a soft landing on the charges before him?
“Is he a fit and proper person with the interest of the industry at heart to lead the regulatory body?” he asked.