The NMCC, according to the NPO President, Kabiru Yusuf, is “to watch the watchdog, serve as a co-regulator, be an independent forum for prompt resolution of complaints about the press, maintain journalism standards and defend the freedom of the press and people’s right to know.”
Kabiru disclosed that the initiative, driven by members of NPO, including the President of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), the civil society and MacArthur Foundation, was for the media to regulate their work and conduct of their members.
The nine-member Commission is chaired by a former Editor and Managing Director of The Guardian newspapers, Mr Emeka Izeze and its members include Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association; Prof Chinyere Okunna, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Paul University, Awka, Anambra State; Dr Hussaini Abdu, Country Director, Care International; Editor-in-Chief, Lanre Idowu, Diamond Publications; Mrs Eugenia Abu, a veteran broadcaster; Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda; and Mrs Dupe Ajayi-Gbadebo, a former Editor.
Kabiru called on stakeholders to support the initiative saying “The media is wary of government regulations, because politicians tend to have short-term goals. We are happy to submit to peer regulation by collaborating with the civil society and other professionals. We gave it two names, for emphasis, the National Media Complaints Commission and The Ombudsman.”
He said that radio and television are already regulated or over-regulated as some would argue, but noted that the “print, which is the oldest and online, which is the newest, have escaped such control, the former warned by the lessons of history, and the latter, by the amplitude of technology.”
He said some powerful and privileged Nigerians, irritated by the nosiness of the media, often express the wish for some checks on its powers adding that he sometimes think that such people take freedom for granted because it is there.
Mr. Sam Amuka-Pemu, chairman and publisher of Vanguard Newspapers, who inaugurated the commission said it would be of great benefit to the media profession and the country in general.
The NMCC Chair, Mr. Izeze said, “Unlike the government, the intention is not to control the press. The commission will not seek to hinder the freedom of the press; rather it will enhance it and seek to boost the confidence of the public in the media. The media is to help the government do a better job and if we can get the press to function more professionally and adhere to professional ethics, the country will be better for it.”
The NMCC was constituted to serve as an independent forum for resolving complaints about the press quickly, fairly, and free of charge; maintain high standards of Nigerian Journalism and journalistic ethics, and defend the freedom of the press and the rights of the people to know.