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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

RE: WHO GETS THE NTA JOB? By Emmanuel Onwubiko

As a leading stakeholder in the media industry of our beloved country, I have read the publication of a material said to have been written by your reporter Ademola Adegbamigbe titled as aforementioned published in the April 02, 2012 edition of the News Magazine.

Ordinarily,       I would not have bordered to reply but as a media worker in the last two decades who is profoundly conversant with the reputable name and image that The News Magazine has made for itself through a combination of the forces of distinguished pursuit of investigative Journalism and the avowed respect accorded to the time-honoured journalism ethics of objectivity, balance and the truth which have essentially become the watch words of the founders of the News magazine, I have taken the pain to write you this piece to correct some Journalistic blunders inherent in the said report.

First, I am aware that the office of the Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority for whatever reason, has become one of the most coveted political offices in the polity so much so that certain persons who ordinarily do not possess the requisite professional competence, managerial skills/acumen and reputable talents, are often involved in the clandestine past -time of sponsoring some half baked, hurriedly assembled and totally unsubstantiated speculative stories about the occupant of the seat of the Director General particularly if the so-called desperate office seeker is in the know that the tenure of the incumbent is about winding up.

The story published in The News can at best be categorized as one of the poorest work of Journalism because it is totally bereft of intellectual investigative attributes and the author simply assembled materials from some of the hurriedly assembled damaging and unsubstantiated, politically-motivated hear say and cheap gossips about the incumbent Director General from the postal mail of the unsigned materials being circulated by these fifth columnists who are even scared of including verifiable names and scientifically accurate contact address.

I am in possession of some of these materials which was posted to me because the ‘devils’ advocate wanted me as a columnist with one of the Abuja based national newspapers, to be persuaded to replicate same in my column but my professional obligation would not allow me to fall for this cheap  political gambit and blackmail crafted to undermine the perceived chances of the incumbent holder of the Director General of NTA to be re-appointed if it pleases the President of the Federal Republic to so do.

Ademola Adenamigbe should have exercised professional discretion and at least make effort to contact the corporate office of the Nigerian Television Authority to speak with the incumbent Director General Mallam Usman Magawata who is a vastly respected Journalist that is available at the shortest notice to make clarification.

I do not wish to join the reporter in exchange of words on whether president Goodluck Jonathan would re-appoint Mallam Magawata to complete the second and final five year tenure as Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority or whether the President is planning to bring in a far junior officer with absolutely no managerial skill to head the Nigerian Television Authority or not, but as an observer with documentary evidence of how the Nigerian Television Authority has been transformed in the past few years, I can say without any fear of contradiction that the current management team headed by Mallam Usman Magawata has performed exceedingly well.

T There is no gainsaying that the power to appoint the Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority lies squarely with Mr. President and I am neither a prophet or a sooth-sayer to read the mind of  Mr. President to uncover if he has re-appointed or he indeed has any intention to re-appoint the incumbent Director  General or not.

Only last week, a leading media analyst in the nation’s capital published an opinion article in the Leadership Newspaper where he objectively stated that so far the current management at the Nigerian Television Authority has indeed improved the fortunes of that public institution, remarkably.

Mr. Ivoke Philip Ivoke who also posted the opinion article to my email had written thus; “The Mallam Usman Magawata -led Board of The Nigerian Television Authority has exhibited uncommon commitment in promoting efficiency, credibility, innovation in News broadcasting and programming with the aim of providing viewers more choices of quality programming and credible news”.

In his well considered opinion which this writer entirely shares these tremendous technology-driven achievements of the current management at the NTA were necessitated and made possible with the introduction of four new Channels namely: NTA Channel 24, NTA Entertainment, NTA Knowledge and NTA sports which are currently showing on Star times TV.

Also the current Board has added the latest broadcasting techniques with the introduction of Wonder Cube which is a broadcast automation system consisting of six channels which makes it possible for the six channels to play simultaneously completely unmanned, full automation of the operation of NTA Channel 24 and the introduction of 120 Terabyte Capacity Blue Ray archiving system.

This system enhances permanent archiving of video materials and can maintain the integrity of archived video for over hundred years. These achievements are not rocket science that cannot be easily verified by a news reporter before committing his thoughts into writing for a reputable news magazine like The News Magazine.

I am aware just like most media experts that the advent of cutting edge technology in media broadcasting has enhanced the processes of news gathering, processing and presentation and for any media organization to remain competitive, it must redefine its operational dynamics to align to this present day reality. Apart from technological process, it must exhibit pluralism and diversity, integrity, accountability, public service and high level profession standards. The media landscape in Nigeria is the most vibrant in Africa as can be attested to by its robust and influential character in shaping Nigerian political, social and economic environment.

I am conversant with the established fact that the public own media like the Nigerian Television Authority occupies a very strategic place in shaping events in Nigeria, promoting National consciousness and enhancing peace and unity in Nigeria. The traditional and constitutional obligations of monitoring  governance, serving as a watch dog of the society and promoting democratic tenets must at all times be the cardinal objectives of the media and NTA under the current board has performed very well in this regard.

I can attest that it is a known fact that NTA under the current leadership introduced the first Digital Terrestrial Television Network in Nigeria through the joint venture company, NTA-STAR TV which is currently transmitting in six States of the federation with over 600,000 subscribers. In 2009, forty (40) VSAT were installed in all the State capitals across Nigeria, this is to enhance connectivity and news contribution from any part of the country. This has greatly facilitated the timely transmission of breaking news from any part of Nigeria. It is also worthy to note that in a bid to transmit stories of Nigeria interest across the world, news Bureaus have been established in Cairo, Accra, London, Washington and Ottawa to tell African stories from African perspective

On the area of man power development, the Mallam Usman Magawata has embarked on periodic training of staff to enhance their capacity and performance and  has also ensured that staff are promoted as at when due. This has helped to boost staff morals as many staff who have been stagnated over the year have been promoted.

It is heart warming to note the non partisan posture of the Nigerian Television Authority during the 2011 General Election. Political parties were offered equal opportunities to present their manifesto to the Nigeria people. During the Election, about sixteen (16) set of streaming equipment were purchased, which greatly enhanced the coverage of 2011 general elections.

Ivoke Philip Ivoke had concluded thus; I believe strongly that for NTA to continue to maintain its records of patriotic service, its leadership must be committed to innovative practices, pursuit of excellence and I can say unequivocally that Mallam Usman Magawata is a square peg in a square hole”. 

It is my wish that reporters both in print and electronic media must strive to maintain the Professional ethics of balance, objectivity and excellence and do everything within their power not to inject their personal opinion into news reports because opinions are free but NEWS is sacred.

·         Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of       


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