As 2024 Budget for the Nation undergoes critical consideration by the National Assembly, the Joint Committees of the National Assembly on Media and Public Affairs has been charged to ensure that Media Organizations of the Federal Government as well as National Orientation Agency (NOA) receive adequate budget provisions to carry-out their day-to-day activities.
The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria – a Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to ethical and professional media practice made the call in Press Statement issued today and signed by its National Coordinator Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi.
According to the Media Group, lack of sufficient funds annually for these Media Organizations have hampered a lot of progressive steps supposed to have been taken as well as commendable projects necessary to have been embarked upon by the Media Organizations.
Media Organizations owned by Federal Governments are the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Voice of Nigeria (VON).
Other Bodies are National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and Nigeria Press Council (NPC) which are Regulatory Bodies as well as National Orientation Agency (NOA) which is a mobilization, awareness and advocacy Agency to make citizens conform with ethical values, virtues and standard in line with global best practices.
Unless these Agencies are well-funded, the mandates given to them in our statutes cannot be realised, the Group maintained.
The Media Group also reiterated its constant call for the removal of Media Organizations from economic yielding Parastatals that pays into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in form of revenue generation, whereby only 35% of revenue generated is given to them.
The Group pointed-out that such a process need be reviewed as turning Public Media Organizations to commercial ventures could defeat the objectives of setting them up especially where the revenue generated by them cannot be used to maintain their equipment and upscale their standard as well as increase the remuneration packages of the work-force of Agencies that serve the Nation 24 hours of the day!
The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria cited the examples of NTA and FRCN that and explained that each them maintains over 150 Stations all over the Country with complimentary Staff, structures and facilities as well as the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that have similar facilities across the Federation, and wondered how such could be run without sufficient funding, calling on the Executive and the National Assembly to do its best in funding them well beginning from the New Year.
The Group however warned on the dangers of commercialisation of religious programmes on Public Media Organizations stating categorically that it runs counter to the National Broadcasting Codes that stated that only 10% of weekly programmes could be religious; and which should be divided equally between existing the religious adherents.
MMWG commended the new Minister of Information and National Orientation Alh. Mohammed Idris who it described as not only Veteran in Journalism but an experienced Mass Communicator and Publisher who is proving his mettle in new Cabinet of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
On the National Orientation Agency (NOA), the Media Group stated that the Agency could achieve a lot if well-funded.
While commending the Federal Government on the new leadership for the Agency, it appealed to the FG to give the Agency fresh mandate with which to achieve its desired goals.
The Group expressed its absolute confidence on the new Director-General of Agency Mal. Lanre Issa Onilu on his ability to raise the banner of NOA to greater heights stressing that as a Veteran Journalism and Outstanding
Mass Communicator, a new era would surface in the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
SHUN WORLD BANK ADVICE ON PETROLEUM PRICING:
Meanwhile, the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria has advised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to shun the advice given recently by the World Bank that Nigeria should review upwards the price of its petroleum based on the current price of production.
The Group stated that the advice is ill-timed and condemnable in view of the economic hardship currently being faced by vast majority of Nigerians – young, old and the elderly.
It urged the World Bank to concentrate on its core business and retrain itself from dabbling into Nigeria’s economic policies in a way that could aggravate the current hardship being faced by the people of Nigeria.
The Group recalled the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s advice to President Ibrahim Babangida in 1987 which brought about the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).
The Group stated that, that was the beginning of Nigeria’s economic trouble which has continued till today, warning President Tinubu not to tow that line; but to hasten actions with policies that would force down prices of petroleum products in Nigeria stating that only such measures could bring last relief to Nigerians.