MRA Criticizes Removal of Chief Executives of NBC, Federal Government Media

Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture

LAGOS: Tuesday, February 16, 2016: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) today criticized yesterday’s 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 politicization of the offices and institutions that is very worrying.

According to media reports, at about 9.00am on Monday, February 15, the Minister met with Mr. Emeka Mba, NBC’s Director General; Mr. Sola Omole, Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA); Mr. Ladan Salihu, Director-General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN); Mr. Sam Worlu, Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON); Mr. Mike Omeri, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA); and Mr. Ima Niboro, Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), informed them of their removal and asked them to hand over to the most senior officials in their various establishments.

In a statement in Lagos, MRA said although it was still taking steps to ascertain whether the removal of the chief executives complied with the requirements of the Law, 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.

MRA noted that Mr. Mba, who was appointed on May 9, 2013 had served less than three years of the five-year tenure specified by Law; Mr. Salihu, who was appointed on February 6, 2014, had served only two years out of his statutory three-year tenure; Mr. Omole, who was appointed the same day, February 6, 2014, had also served only two out of his three year tenure; Mr. Worlu, who was appointed on March 4 2015 had served less than one year out of his statutory five-year tenure; while Mr. 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, criticized 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. 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.”

Saying that the institutions should be insulated from partisan political actions, he noted 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.

It 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”.