Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has criticized the removal of the Chief Executives of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and five Federal Government-owned media and advocacy institutions by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, describing it as a blatant politicisation of the offices and institutions.
MRA’s criticising, which is contained in a statement in Lagos, stated that although it was taking steps to ascertain whether the removal of the chief executives complied with the requirements of the Law, adding that its preliminary observation was that given the sensitivity of the positions they hold, the action of the Minister in summoning them to his office and unceremoniously dismissing them from their jobs was humiliating and capable of undermining the independence and integrity of the institutions that they were presiding over.
Recalled that the Minister of Information of Culture had met with, NBC’s Director General, Mr. Emeka Mba, Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Mr. Sola Omole, , Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Mr. Ladan Salihu, , Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Sam Worlu, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr. Mike Omeri and Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr. Ima Niboro and informed them of their removal and asked them to hand over to the most senior officials in their various establishments.
To buttress its point, MRA cited the case of Mba, who according to him was appointed on May 9, 2013, had served less than three years of the five-year tenure specified by Law.
According to MRA Salihu, who was appointed on February 6, 2014, had served only two years of his statutory three-year tenure and Omole, who was appointed the same day, February 6, 2014, had also served only two years of his three year tenure.
Worlu,it said was appointed on March 4 2015 had served less than one year out of his statutory five-year tenure while Omeri, who was appointed on January 16, 2012, had only served four out of his five-year tenure.
MRA’s Executive Director, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, criticised the manner of their removal from office, arguing that “although the laws establishing these institutions make provisions for their removal from office before the expiration of their tenures, such removal can only be effected upon the fulfillment of certain conditions and there is no indication at this time that those conditions were satisfied.”
He continued, “In any event, the chief executive of a regulatory body of the stature of the NBC and those of national public service media institutions and agencies should never be dismissed from office in the manner in which this has been done.”
He advised that the institutions should be insulated from partisan political actions, noting that “the laws establishing these institutions never intended that the fortunes of their principal officers should be tied to those of the political party in power. The credibility of these institutions is absolutely vital to their effectiveness in achieving the objectives for which they were established. Actions such as these, which include them in the spoils of office to be shared among the members of a victorious political party undermine their credibility, independence and integrity.”
MRA also noted that although President Muhammadu Buhari approved the dissolution of the governing boards of Federal Parastatals, agencies and institutions with effect from July 16, 2015, he has failed to reconstitute them seven months after they were dissolved.
The body reminded the government that allowing the agencies to take matters that require the attention of their boards to permanent secretaries, as they have been asked to do, is a flagrant violation of the laws establishing them and is inconsistent with all the tenets of the rule of law and unjustifiable under a government that has come to power promising “change”.