Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has been accused by staff of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) of securing presidential approval for radio licenses for 30 unvetted and unprocessed companies.
The staff, who described themselves as Concerned NBC staff, made the allegation in a petition dated 19 March and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the petition, the licenses were awarded without the knowledge and input of the NBC, which they described as unprecedented in the commission’s history.
“Broadcasting in Nigeria is in grave danger and national security has been breached, because no company is expected to be issued a license before passing through the processing by the regulatory agency, the NBC; and only after such a company has been thoroughly vetted by security authorities in Nigeria.
“In the case of the 30 new companies that the Minister of Information has just secured approval for, they are companies owned by friends, political associates, and cronies of Alhaji Lai Muhammed.
“They are being offered radio licenses as political and personal freebies without the normal procedures of the NBC being followed; without the knowledge of the NBC, the regulatory body normally charged with the responsibility,” the petition read.
The staff also accused the minister of systematically emasculating the commission and called on the President to call him to order.
“We respectfully urge you (Buhari) to order the immediate cancellation of the licenses. They were procured through the backdoor; they flouted the normal procedure and they breached Nigeria’s national security. Please, call Alhaji Lai Muhammed to order. He should allow the NBC to carry out its statutory functions. He is not the Minister of NBC affairs,” the staff stated.
They accused Muhammed of a personal agenda, pointing to last week’s announcement of the appointment of Alhaji Lateef Bolarinwa as the Chairman of the commission’s board. Bolarinwa was the chairman of Mohammed’s faction of the Kwara All Progressives Congress (APC), which lost out in the state congress to the faction supported by Governor Abdulrazak Abdulrahman.
“The plan is to be in total control of the broadcasting sector, as part of an overall political agenda, for the Presidency, in 2023. Surely, the personal agenda of the Minister of Information should not be more important than the national interest. We urge President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the relevant security agencies to wade into these illegal and controversial activities of the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed,” the staff said.