A prominent Pro-Democracy and Non-Governmental organisation- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to give immediate matching order to all his political office holders who are eyeing elective positions in the forthcoming election to quit public service to avoid compromising integrity and impartiality of such strategic national institutions.
Specifically, HURIWA has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to save the Voice of Nigeria (VON) a publicly funded broadcasting agency and the institutional regulator of the broadcasting industry in Nigeria- National Broadcasting Commission(NBC) from the current stranglehold of biases and deeply entrenched partisanship of their heads by forcing them to resign or be dismissed to pave the way for completely non-partisan technocrats with patriotic zeal to pilot the affairs of those organisations given that the Director Generals of both the VON and NBC who are fanatical card carrying members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have reportedly bought; filled and submitted expression/nomination forms to vie for offices of governor of Kwara state and Senator representing Enugu West senatorial zone in next year’s elections.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said it was disheartening and disappointing that President Muhammadu Buhari has allowed his appointees with open ambitions to run for elective offices to continue to shortchange the Nigerian people and undermine public trust by letting these rabidly partisan card carrying members of his political family to enjoy the unfair and illegal advantage over their opponents/rivals even in the same political party by enjoying official privileges and deploying public fund at their disposal to service their selfish political agenda to the detriment of such strategic national institutions. HURIWA said that such a malpractice on the part of the Presidency apart from its moral/ethical challenge also contravenes the enabling legislation setting up those key institutions of the media just as the Rights group reminds the Presidency that by the intendment of section 22 of the constitution the media terrain whether privately or publicly funded is a totally non-partisan sphere of influence with the underlying objective of serving as the consciences of the nation devoid of political influences and divisiveness.
The Rights group alluded to the decision of the Imo State governor Mr. Rochas Okorocha to fire his close aides with political ambitions including his surrogate and son-in-law that he plans to install as his successor so they can concentrate on their campaigns even as HURIWA wondered why the man in Imo state government house with the notoriety as the worst governor in the history of modern Nigerian politics could get it right by offloading his aides who nurse political ambitions whereas the Presidency has failed to take measures to weed out persons with self centered political ambitions so they pursue their goals and let the citizens without political baggage or agenda to take up their positions to continue to deliver service to all Nigerians in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the relevant laws that established some of these offices and institutions.
HURIWA singled out the Directors General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the publicly funded Voice of Nigeria (VON) Alhaji Ishaq Modibbo Kawu and Mr Osita Okechukwu and the minister of Communications Alhaji Adebayo Shittu who is eyeing the governorship of Oyo State amongst others as persons who must be made to quit their positions to face their individual campaigns or be fired so competent and much more committed technocrats without political ambitions to be appointed to discharge the statutory duties for which these positions and institutions were established. HURIWA wondered why neither the President nor the Secretary to the government of the Federation have taken concrete and verifiable steps to enforce compliance to the enabling laws governing those institutions and order these political office holders to quit in public interest so as to chase after their individual but altogether legitimate ambitions to win elective positions in their states of origin as already indicated by them.
HURIWA reminds President Muhammadu Buhari of the extant NBC code in which article 2.2.3 affirmed that accuracy, objectivity; fairness, and integrity as salient elements that should guide the broadcasting industry in Nigeria even as the Rights group wondered how a man with self centered ambition to run for politically elective office of governor and has already reportedly bought and submitted the N22 million worth of expression of intention and nomination form of the All Progressives Congress would be allowed to hold on to such a high office as chief national regulator of the broadcasting industry in Nigeria whilst pursuing his individual goal of contesting for the office of governor which requires a lot of media activities which would automatically confer an unfair and comprehensively illegal advantages to him over and above his other co-contestants within and outside of his political platform.
“If we look at it from the perspective of the essentially critical element of integrity required of broadcasting houses, allowing Alhaji Kawu to stay on as Director General of National Broadcasting Commission which wields the powers of a regulator of the broadcasting sector whereas he will definitely enjoy the advantage of impactful media presence as he carries on going about the execution of the assignments demanded of his office just as he could abuse such media privileges by highlighting his political aims covertly or overtly, an advantage that his other rivals don’t have. On the side of the Director Generals of the VON Mr Osita Okecukwu, he has consistently used his official time and resources and has concerned himself with the political project of the re-election of his principal in 2019 poll, neglecting his primarily statutory duties as substantive head of a publicly funded Voice of Nigeria radio network. He has however lately delved fully into the political campaign for a senatorial slot for himself whilst parading about as the Director General of Voice of Nigeria. The minister of Communications has for almost a year focused exclusively on campaigning for the re-election of his principal even before the Independent National Electoral Commission blew the whistle permitting political campaigns. This minister of Communications has bought and submitted the form to run for the office of governor of Oyo State even as he stays on in a national office which he no longer pays 100 percent attention which his job prescriptions stated when he took oath of office.This unpardonable political immorality must never be allowed to fester because it will adversely affect our culture of political sanity and adherence to the principle of rule of law. “