The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has called on broadcasting stations in Nigeria to present the various contending political platforms in ways that assist the people to make enlightened political choices but warned against allowing political broadcasting to degenerate into an avenue for spewing hate, which can endanger the political and democratic health of the society.
The Commission’s Director-General, Is’Haq Modibbo Kawu, said the Commission will not sit by and allow broadcasters to flout the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, adding that “as we move closer to the political season that will lead to the 2019 elections, our colleagues have to become even more aware of the imperatives to operate strictly by the rules.”
Mr. Kawu spoke last month in Kano at a workshop on “Sanitizing Political Broadcasting in Kano State” organized by the NBC and the Aminu Kano Center for Democratic Research and Training of the Bayero University in Kano.
He recalled that a few month’s ago, he received a call from the Director of the Aminu Kano Center, Professor Haruna Wakili, who was “very worried about the manner that political broadcasts were being conducted on radio stations in Kano” and “felt that the Nigeria Broadcasting Code was being regularly flouted, and there was the need to do something about it.”
Mr. Kawu said the call came at a time when the NBC itself was also analysing the trend of violations of the Code, as they regularly appeared in the weekly Broadcast Monitoring Reports from the Commission’s Zonal Directors, filed from all over Nigeria.
According to him, “In response to the patterns of violations and the sanctioning regime within the Nigeria Broadcasting Code, we decided that the NBC must call our licensees to order; get them to appreciate the importance of adherence to the letter and spirit of the Code, as well as underline the patterns of hate and dangerous speech, that had become central to some of the content of programming in several radio stations, especially in the Kaduna Zone, which comprises of stations in Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states.”
Mr. Kawu said as a result of the situation, August 21, 2017, the NBC held its first workshop in Kaduna; while the second one held on October 26, 2017 in Kano, adding that the meeting organized by the NBC and the Aminu Kano center was “a major follow-up, to reinforce the importance of the process and to further deepen the enlightenment of our colleagues, about their responsibilities.”
He said: “In a democratic society, political broadcasting is a very important platform of enlightenment. It offers the opportunities for the citizenry to appreciate the dynamics of the political process; helps to explore the general patterns of political discourse; presents the various contending platforms of political parties and individual political actors. These can assist in making vital choices in the contestation for political power. But there is an underlining assumption to this; it is assumed that the political broadcaster operates strictly within the laws of broadcasting as well as the ethical imperatives of journalism.”
Mr. Kawu, however, stressed that “Where there is disrespect for the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and the ethics of journalism; or where broadcast stations become suborned to various interests, especially in a politically dynamic environment as we have in Kano, then we can be headed for serious trouble! It is precisely to ensure that broadcast stations; broadcasters and especially those responsible for political broadcasting, understand the critical responsibility that they hold, for the democratic health of society, that we are holding the various workshops.”