Presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Oby Ezekwesili, on Tuesday in Port Harcourt attacked Minister of information, Lai Mohammed and the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, over plans to sanction stations in 2019.
Ezekwesili speaking at a keynote address on the theme, “Broadcasting and the Changing Media Landscape” described the speech by Mohammed as a threat to democracy.
The Minister was represented at the event by Mr Sunday Baba, the Director of Public Relations and Protocol, in the Ministry.
She also lamented the harassment by a participant at the opening of the 71st General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).
NAN reports that before going into her address, Ezekwesili while criticizing comments on the presentations earlier made by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo-Kawu was interrupted by Yusuf Musa, the General Manager of Nasarawa Radio and Television.
Ezekwesili said: “My brother, Kawu, I listened to you with rapt attention, you are not speaking like yourself.
“You are threatening to shut down broadcasting stations. Similarly, the speech presented by the representative of the minister is also full of threat.
“This cannot happen in a democracy that we fought hard to attain.
“Patriotism is to support government when it deserves it and to support the people at all times.
“Anything that can be a hanging threat against the media must be rejected.”
At this point, Musa hectored at the guest speaker, asking her to go straight to her paper rather than making comments and “embarrassing” the minister and NBC DG over their speeches.
Ezekwesili who was not pleased with the interjection by Musa said: “A gentleman is shouting at me there, that is typical of an overzealous person, telling a fellow Nigerian to shut up
“Forget about our very animated government official who is defending the government.
“We know them, when the current administration is over, they will sing a new song
“You were not invited here to the podium, I am. Please let me go into my presentations.”
Musa,speaking on the incident after the programme said he interrupted Ezekwesili because she left the presentation she was asked to make to attack the DG, NBC and the Minister.
“She is someone I admire so much because of her contributions to national development but I am not pleased with the way she attacked the NBC over the plan to sanction erring stations,” he said.
Earlier, Modibbo Kawu cautioned radio and TV stations that the NBC would not hesitate to sanction erring stations, as the country enters the season of heightened political activities, en route the 2019 general elections.
“For us at the NBC, we cannot be responsible for the statements that politicians make.
“It is important to remind the broadcasting outfits in BON, that you would be liable for any violations of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code by the politicians that you broadcast live during political rallies.
“So, it is your responsibility, not just to collect those huge sums politicians are willing to pay; but you must make them remember the liability you carry for decency in what comes out on radio and television,” he said.