TEXT OF A SPEECH BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (NBC), IS’HAQ MODIBBO KAWU, AT THE KANO STAKEHOLDERS’ MEETING ON POLITICAL BROADCASTS, KANO, OCTOBER 26TH, 2017
On behalf of the Board of Management and Staff of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), I will like to welcome everyone present here today, to this very important gathering. Two months ago, on the 21st of August, 2017, we were in Kaduna to hold a similar gathering. The reason is very simple. Broadcasting is facing a very serious challenge in this lovely state. Everybody who knows me, would attest to my love for Kano. I studied here; I worked here as a broadcaster in the 1990s, as a reporter for the BBC World Service and Radio France International. And Kano is the hardworking reporter’s delight! This is a city with a history that is at least a thousand years old. So there are layers upon layers of a rich vein of historical and contemporary materials to make features; packages and reports from. I learnt a lot here and used the rich history of Kano as both source and backdrop for many programs that were broadcast for radio listeners around the world. This is afterall the old terminus of the Trans-Saharan Trade of old; Kano has always been a city of intrepid business people and a place of learning and of scholarship. Kano had the unique ability to absorb and domestic influences, and that was the base of its rich history that was known far and wide.
KANO’S BROADCASTING LANDSCAPE:
Of course, Kano has a rich relationship with broadcasting, dating back to the 1940s with the emergence of the colonial rediffusion service, and the distinguished Alhaji Bello Dandago; who was one of the earliest broadcasters from Northern Nigeria! Broadcasting, especially radio broadcasting, has always been popular here, offering the people an avenue to be part of the modernity which the world of the 20th and 21st Centuries brought from all directions. When the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was established in 1992, there were only five government-owned broadcasting outfits in the state: NTA Kano; CTV; Radio Kano AM and FM; as well as the FRCN station at Tukuntawa. Today, Kano boasts of 21 broadcast stations, and many more are in the pipeline. This makes it the fifth in the number of stations in Nigeria. However, our Zonal Directorate is convinced that Kano ranks FIRST in the number of Political Programs that broadcasting stations purvey. That ordinarily, should not be a problem, and should not surprise us. Kano has always been a state of intense political rivalries and of an equally high political consciousness. However, the manner that political broadcasts have been produced and presented, especially the unceasing breaches of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, has become a source of worry for us at the National Broadcasting Commission.
Kano is the most populated state in Nigeria; and is certainly the political heart of the North. When we met for the same reason in Kaduna on August 21st, 2017, I reminded our colleagues in Kaduna, of certain basic facts of the political process which I believe are also relevant to our gathering today in Kano. Please permit me to quote from my Kaduna speech:
“We are living in democratic times; or more appropriately, in a period of democracy consolidation in our country. By its nature, democracy presupposes the vigorous contestation of ideas, by political parties as well as by politicians. There cannot be democracy, if we do not often have the political system dealing with creative tensions and disputations. These ‘creative tensions and disputations’ are the oyster of political news and reportage. Where political gladiators learn to play by the rules and conduct themselves with a minimally acceptable level of decorum, then society also learns to discern the differences in the political platforms of the parties and individual politicians. The construction of a Social Contract between the people and the political elite, could then be on a firm foundation that works for the common good. However, there are no ‘Chinese Walls’ dividing the ‘creative tensions and disputations’ of politics from anarchic disorder, especially in the political processes in many post-colonial societies.
Political parties have emerged after decades of military dictatorship and often have no organic links to more historical political currents and traditions; the parties are mere platforms of access to power not ideological organizations, and the members of the political elite fight literally to the death, because access to power always equals access to lucre. The outsider is almost a complete loser. So no one wants to be outside looking in, while their opponents corner all the accesses to the good life. This is the reason that politics is almost like permanent warfare. And in order to get advantageous positions in these battles for hegemonic control of society, the political elite deploys every available weapon of political warfare: but most especially the manipulation of the fault lines of society, such as ethno-religious contradictions; the manipulative use of money and the desperate desire to compromise the media to achieve advantages that might in the long run, work against the overall health of society. There is no rule that cannot be broken in these scenarios, and the most troubling is the manner that the media, and especially the broadcast media, is suborned, as platforms for the purveying of Hate and Dangerous Speech. In a society where people have always listened to, and believed what they hear from their radio, this is a veritable danger to society”.
Broadcasting and Hate Speech.
I have been a broadcaster for several decades and I know for su it is not the business of broadcasting all over the world to promote hate though some have found this veritable tool of social cohesion a tool for divisiveness.
Character of Broadcasting in Nigeria.
In Nigeria according to the broadcasting Code (2012)
Broadcasting shall influence society positively, setting the agenda for the social, cultural, economic, political and technological development of a nation, for the public good.
The Code notes that – Therefore, no broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder, be repugnant to public feeling or contain an offensive reference to any person, alive or dead, or generally, be disrespectful to human dignity.
Social Objectives of Broadcasting in Nigeria.
The Code also states that –
Broadcasting organizations shall recognize that they exercise freedom of expression as agents of society, not for any personal or sectional rights, privileges and needs of their own or of their proprietors, relatives, friends or supporters.
- Broadcasting shall promote values and norms, which foster the well-being and co-operation of the various segments of the Nigerian society.
0.2.3 g Broadcasting shall be mindful of the degree of harm and offence likely to be caused by the inclusion of any material in programming in general or in specific terms;
It has become very worrisome that in spite of the very clear and laudable objectives of the Code some broadcasters have continued to use the medium to create hate and stir conflicts. This explains why we have decided to convene this meeting. Broadcasters in this Zone are increasingly heating up the polity and becoming recklessly divisive. This trend must stop.
It is for this reason that we have proposed a new section of the Code , which states clearly that –
3.0.2 PROFESSIONAL GUIDELINES
126.96.36.199 No broadcast shall encourage or incite to crime, lead to public disorder or hate, be repugnant to public feelings or contain offensive reference to any person or organization, alive or dead or generally be disrespectful to human dignity.
188.8.131.52 Hate speech is prohibited; therefore, a Broadcaster shall not transmit any program, program promotion, community service announcement or station identity, which is likely, in any circumstance, to provoke or perpetuate in a reasonable person, intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule against a person or groups of people because of age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or political leanings.
REGULATING HARMFUL BROADCAST IN NIGERIA
During the last anniversary Lecture of the NBC, His eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, while condemning the very disturbing trend of Hate speech in Nigeria requested the NBC to wake up to its responsibility and sanction defaulting stations. At the NBC, we are very committed to this call.
ENFORCING THE LAW
Regulating hateful has been a rather challenging phenomenon; but we have tried to cope with some of these challenges, as the regulatory instution.
I believe that we have not forgotten the events preceeding the 2015 elections are the demonization of President Buhari.
-The Asaba Massacre-was broadcast on the 4th of October 2017 just 3 days after the controversial deadline for the Igbo to vacate the North. The documentary stated that a “Nigerian army Regiment commanded by Murtala Mohammed ‘invaded’ Asaba and slaughtered about 400 hundred people’’ it adds ‘ boys of fighting age , their uncles and their fathers were slaughtered. Some Edo people helped to point out some prominent Asaba people to the soldiers to be killed’ What was the intendment of this kind of program? Obviously to open up old wounds and stir hateful resentment and anger. And to play ethnic groups against each other through broadcasting. Of course the NBC stopped the program and the station was fined N600,000. We later learnt the station involved fired the unprofessional and rather carefree presenter. as many of them are today for her lack of discretion and editorial responsibility.
Similarly, on Vision FM Katsina, on the 9th of October, 2017, a program “Kowane Tsunsu”, alleged that Governor Msari caused the killing of some youths-.
On the 18th of October 2017 the NBC summoned the General Managers of three broadcast stations in Bauchi; another place that has increasingly become heated up due to competing hate statements by the various radio stations in the state capital at Bauchi.
I wish to note that the trend in Kano has become very disturbing too.
There has been a lot of stereo-typing of each other, in the country, over the years. Many people still hold on to very dangerous and ill-conceived myths about other Nigerians. And they believe they have a right to ventilate such views, through the medium of broadcasting. The social media has become a veritable platform for hate speech. For instance, we found out that the author of the Asaba Massacre material was a well-known social media blogger, who regularly posts hateful comments. In fact, another patriotic Nigerian who had been monitoring his blog, informed us that he had boasted, prior to the broadcast, that he was going to air his rather incendiary and hateful broadcast on Radio.
KANO’S BREACH PROFILE:
At the NBC, our staff work round-the-clock, 24hours a day, monitoring the broadcasts of stations in every part of our country. We endeavor to do a very professional work of trying to keep our licensees on the straight and narrow path of adhering strictly to the letters and spirit of the Code. But in Kano we are faced with very serious challenges in terms of the refusal of broadcasters to do the right thing. The main breaches that our staff regularly report from Kano include the following:
Dynasty past & present, the Al-Majairi, and Univer
like the late Malam Aminu Kano, Danmasani,
Distribution Service, under the late Sarkin Dawaki Maituta, Alhaji Bello
THE KANO BROADCAST LANDSCAPE.
- The value of history is to know who we are, where are we from and where are we going from here?
The history of Kano is full of great achievements, thus “Kano koda me ka zo an fika”, however the Kano broadcast style today is giving us all a source of great concern. When the National Broadcasting Commission was established in 1993, Kano had only five government owned broadcast stations i.e. NTA KANO, CTV, Radio Kano AM and FM, and the FRCN Station at Tukuntawa. Today Kano has a total of 21 broadcast stations and still counting. It ranked fifth in the number of broadcast stations in the country, but took the first position in the number of Political Programmes. We at the NBC are really concerned over the rising breach profile of some broadcasters in this part of the country and, I believe every stakeholder here is genuinely interested in propounding solution to this menace.
Monitoring reports from various sources indicate the prevalence of some
harmonized style of abusive, indecent and vulgar language in the name of
Stations in Kano should be cautious of the following area:
- Broadcast of Indecent Language
- Unbalanced Programs
- Unfounded/Unsubstantiated remarks
- Inciting statements
- Political Campaigning before stipulated time
- Live phone-in Programs
- Trado-Medic Adverts that make claims
- Lifting stories from the Internet and Newspapers.
- Lack of straight dealings.
In trying to understand the whole basis of the breaches that come from Kano on a regular basis, our staff have also been trying to study and analyze the trends. Are there factors that dispose the Kano broadcaster to behaving the way he does?
- History- does it have any historical linkage?
- Business- Is the Kano business environment responsible?
- Political- Can we hold Kano politicians accountable?
- Cultural- Are Kano Citizens pleased with these forms of broadcast?
- Stations- Are Broadcast stations in Kano to blame?
DANGERS OF CURRENT POLITICAL BROADCASTS:
Our Staff also point out that there are potential dangers inherent in the trend we monitor; these types of political broadcasts
DANGERS: what are the dangers of this unwholesome political broadcast.
- Can derail a legitimate democratic process and lead to anarchy
- Can keep away persons of integrity from politics for fear of abuse.
- Can hold back the development of society. Compare Lagos and Kano.
BENEFITS OF DECENT BROADCASTS: On the other hand, Kano can benefit
immensely by changing its Political Broadcast style, thus
BENEFITS OF DECENT POLITICAL BROADCASTS:
NBC Staff in this Zone then point out that when properly and professionally produced and presented, political broadcasts can be advantageous to society.
- Monies wasted in unwholesome political content can be used for development
- Decent political broadcasts attract people of integrity into politics.
- · Civilized polity promotes civic responsibility and progress.
- Kano needs decent broadcast style to attract local and foreign investments.
In this forum we have invited distinguished Academics, Seasoned Broadcasters and other important stakeholders to join us in the discourse. I encourage you to freely contribute to the discussion on the way forward for Kano and the Nigerian broadcast industry. As a Commission responsible for the regulation of Broadcasting in Nigeria, we have monitored and recorded many cases of unethical broadcast practices. In recent times, there is a sudden rise in Hate speech against persons or groups of persons of different Ethnic, Political, and Religious inclinations; likewise we witnessed increased erosion of our National Goals and aspirations. But we are worried that the more negative has tended to out-perform the positive in the content of political broadcasting in Kano. This is the reason that we have called all of you to this stakeholders’ gathering here in Kano. The second reason why we have gathered, is to receive the report of the study that the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) commissioned on Hate Speech in Nigeria. This came against the backdrop of the manner that broadcasting was abused in the lead to the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria. The NBC believes that we owe Nigeria a major responsibility to ensure that broadcasting would no longer be suborned as a platform to purvey hate in the Nigerian political and electoral system. We are committed to playing a very important role in the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, as the regulatory institution for broadcasting. I will like to welcome you all to Kano. It is my pleasure to declare this Kano Stakeholders’ gathering open! Thank you very much for your attention!
IS’HAQ MODIBBO KAWU