By Abiola PETERS
The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), says it has been repositioned to engage media stakeholders ahead of the 2023 general election.
Director- General, Mallam Balarabe Shehu Ilela, stated this in Lagos at a two-day seminar for the leadership of the National Broadcasting Commission on Contemporary Issues in Broadcast Media Regulation, organised by the Institute for Media and Society, as part of the support to Media component of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance, Phase II Project in Nigeria.
Describing the seminar as timely, and coming at a time when the commission was preparing with the industry for the 2023 general election, Mallam Ilela thanked the European Union (EU) and other partners for their support to IMS in strengthening the broadcast media and in particular, institutions like the NBC.
He stated that the seminar, which brought together the leadership of the nation’s apex regulatory agency for broadcasting industry, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) from across the country was, in no small way, strengthening Nigeria’s democratic culture, promoting principles of equity, fairness and unbridled access to broadcast platforms for political campaigns.
Speaking further on the impact of the training, the NBC DG pointed out that the financial support of the EU to train members of management of the commission showed the EU was a real friend of Nigeria, assuring that more would be done to monitor the broadcast space through a twenty-four hour system.
In his welcome speech, the Executive Director of the Institute for Media and Society (IMS), Dr. Akin Akingbulu, explained that the seminar was an activity within the support to EU-SDGN Phase II project, aimed at strengthening the work of the regulator.
Dr. Akingbulu stated that the objective of the seminar, was to build a strong regulatory body that was well-resourced and independent enough to carry out all of its regulatory duties in the election and general democratic processes.
He clarified that the Institute’s implementation of the Media Component in Phase II of the EU SDGN project was in three dimensions, including legislative reform with a focus on the review of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act, enhancing the regulator’s interactions with the industry, and strengthening technical expertise within the regulator.
The Executive Director highlighted engagement’s with the NBC in the past five years, including stakeholders’ consultations, engagement with the amendment process of the NBC Act, interactive forums of the regulator and capacity – building for NBC staff.
While applauding the EU for its commitment to democratic ideals in Nigeria and funding provided for the Media component, Dr. Akingbulu said the country was at a crucial juncture at which a large number of broadcast professionals and organisation would be covering the election campaigns.
He urged all stakeholders, including media owners, government and security agencies, to provide an enabling environment for journalists to carry out their professional duties as well as work together to address harmful contents that could undermine the elections and their outcomes.
A facilitator at the seminar, Professor Ayobami Ojebode of the University of Ibadan, urged participants’ to re-examine their role regulators, calling for regulatory responsibility that would embrace the concept of pluralism not only in media content but also in ownership, workforce, geography, and voices.
Another facilitator, Professor Victor Aluma from the University of Jos, introduced a system-based approach, which he described as applicable and measurable for regulatory agency work. The scholar noted that such an approach was dynamic and flexible to manage all regulation processes, including during election periods.
The participants made commitment that, based on the learning at the seminar, they were ready to carry out improved performance before, during and after the elections. The seminar covered various themes, including Regulating for Pluralism, Protecting Freedom of Media and Expression in Regulation, Regulation and Technology, Regulation and the Law, The Regulator’s Communication System, Transparency and Accountability in Regulation and Content Regulation Issues