NTA boss rues interference by external interests

 The House of Representatives on Tuesday in Abuja queried NTA’s Director-General, Mr Yakubu Mohammed, over the inability of the station to be self-funding.

Rep. Ikenna Elezieanya (PDP-Imo) posed the question to the D-G during his 2022 budget defence before the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Value.

The lawmaker asked Mohammed why NTA could not be self-funding like private television stations.

In a swift reaction, Mohammed stated that under normal circumstances, NTA should be self-funding, but was handicapped by intrusion by various interests.

“When I am asked to do a live coverage for free and sometimes it is a four-hour live coverage without collecting a dime. In such circumstance, the station cannot be self-funding.

“At the onset of COVID-19, we had to displace some commercial programmes to accommodate COVID-19 programmes,’’ he said.

He added that NTA is a partially-commercialised organisation where patrons should pay for services rendered to be able to attain the self-funding status.

Mohammed also told the committee that some government agencies use invitation to the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism to their programmes as a decoy to side-step payment to NTA.

They knew that NTA would attend the function in deference to the minister, he explained.

On commercialisation of the station, he stated that only one precedent condition, out of six had been met by government.

According to him, making money for NTA is difficult but it can be achieved if the station is left alone.

“This is when we can make money and until all requirements to allow for full commercialisation is met, it will be difficult,’’ he said.

In another development, Mr Olalekan Fadolapo, Registrar, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), called for full regulation of advertising in the country.

He said advertising remained the major source of revenue for the media and it was only when APCON was well-funded that it would be able to create more jobs directly and indirectly.

He added that APCON was incapacitated in terms of social media adverts monitoring, stressing that the agency lacked the requisite tools to monitor.

He said Federal Government’s revenue would increase if patrons paid for advertisements.

Mr Mansur Liman, Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) lauded the lawmakers for their unwavering support.

He said that the FRCN was facing the same challenges of free coverage in spite of cost, lack of modern equipment among others, just like the NTA.

He stressed that with the support of the lawmakers the challenges would be surmounted.

The National Orientation Agency also defended its budget at the sitting.

Rep. Odebunmi Olusegun, Chairman of the Committee urged the agencies to create opportunities for youths to be employed in the agencies. (NAN)