A former Director-General of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Tonnie Iredia says Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, cannot regulate broadcasting in the country while he remains a politician.
In his words during a Channels TV programme on Wednesday, the ex DG condemned Lai’s engagement in the amendment of the code of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Tuesday.
This contentious code, which augmented the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million, is facing countrywide opposition and infuriation.
Notable countrymen — including Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Prize winner who labelled it as “economic sabotage” — said it targets press freedom.
Moreso, Iredia, who is a professor of broadcast management and media law, mentioned that the Mohammed has Shanghai the responsibilities of the director-general of the NBC.
He said: “Everybody expects a broadcasting commission to be an autonomous body that has no place in politics. If you listen to the news, who has been speaking? The minister of Information. Is he the director-general of the NBC?
“When the minister is speaking, there is no way broadcasters can see that the regulator is speaking. He is not a regulator.
“He should leave the broadcasters in the NBC to do their professional duty. The law gives him the right to supervise but not to take over the job.
“The moment the minister is speaking, no matter how well-intentioned he may be, the people become suspicious because he belongs to a political divide and whatever he says is likely to be used against the opposition and I think this is a natural thing.”