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Mohammed Assures Opposition Will Have Field Days On Patronage With The Public Mass Media

By Niyi Adeyi

Nigerians have been assured that under the present administration, no Federal Government-owned media organization will deny the opposition the opportunity to air their views.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gave the assurance Thursday at his maiden meeting with heads of parastatals under his Ministry, at the Radio House, Abuja, Alhaji Mohammed recalled that it was true that, while the ruling party was still in opposition, it was treated as outcasts by the public broadcasters, as well as denied of using the various platforms. He regretted that the opposition adverts were rejected, while the professionals, who are public servants “made themselves available for the most abhorrent hate campaign ever in the history of electioneering campaign in our country”.

“But in an era of change, which is our mantra that cannot and will not continue. Opposition members are Nigerians, just like members of the ruling party. Even the ruling party will benefit when the opposition is allowed to air their views freely, because you learn more from people who disagree with you. Therefore, let the ruling party and the opposition air their ideas and let the people, who wield the ultimate power, decide at the end of the day” the Minister demanded.

While comparing the quality of the public and private media houses, Alhaji Mohammed condemned the era in which the Federal Government-owned media organizations, played second fiddle in the country’s media landscape, noting that the one-time efficient and effective NTA and FRCN were different from what the country has today.

“Whereas most broadcast journalists of note in our country today passed through the NTA and the FRCN, there is no denying the fact that the private radio and TV stations are doing much better, at least going by the fact that most Nigerians prefer them to the public broadcasters. Indeed, most Nigerians find the private broadcasters more credible.

“The reason for this is not far-fetched. First, the public broadcasters have thrown professionalism to the wind while also showing total disregard for editorial independence. They have mortgaged their credibility on the altar of political correctness.
Yet, these Federal Government-owned media establishments are endowed with highly-trained and well-qualified personnel, better infrastructure and a wide reach.

“It is interesting to note that these government-owned media organizations complain of financial woes, forgetting that there is a link between credibility and profitability. Advertisers will surely flock to more credible media organizations, and of course it is also true that content drives advertisement” Mohammed asserted.

He declared that the same law of diminishing returns also applied to NAN, which was once the leading national news agency in the whole of Africa, boasting of the best professionals in the news business, still complained that today, the agency was punching far below its weight, despite its presence in all the states of the Federation.

Alhaji Mohammed restated that his tenure in the Ministry would provide leadership for the Federal Government-owned media organizations in a manner that would make them to become the first source of information, so that they could be more effectively function as a vehicle for the change mantra of the Buhari’s Administration, and also regain their lost glory.

He affirmed: “The combined reach of the NTA, FRCN and NAN, if effectively utilized, will facilitate the success of the change campaign. But they must first enhance their own credibility, because no credibility-deficient news organization can successfully propagate the message of change”.

Speaking on the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the Information Minister said the Government was committed to the realization of the Digital Switch Over in Nigeria, because of the inherent opportunities, in the news, entertainment and creative industries as well as the vibrancy it would usher into the sector. This, he stated would in turn create jobs for millions of the teeming youths.

He added the same was true of the National Film Corporation and the National Film and Video Censor Board, which he said were also key to propagating the change agenda.

Other agencies and bodies, including, the Voice of Nigeria, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria and the Nigerian Press Council would have a role to play in the days ahead, especially when the Government launch the massive national reorientation campaign aimed at achieving a paradigm shift in the way Nigerians do things.

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