Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Ex-NTA DG recounts how Jonathan presidency punished him for censoring PDP hate campaigns

A former acting Director-General, DG, of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Mr. Musa Mayaki, has recounted how he was issued several queries and rebuked by the immediate past presidency for daring to censor abusive and inciting comments made by chieftains of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during rallies transmitted live on the television station.
He explained that he was on several occasions queried by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s chief of staff (CoS), Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, for trying to prevent live transmission of some very abusive comments and hate speeches made by some members of the then ruling party.

He added that but for the intervention of the former Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, who, as a professional journalists himself, understood that he (Mayaki) was doing the right thing, he would have been sacked much earlier.

It would be recalled that Mayaki served in that capacity between 2012 and 2014, but was not confirmed as the substantive DG of the government-owned media organization. He was instead removed and replaced by the incumbent, Mr. Sola Omole.

But speaking with Leadership at the weekend, Mayaki said his travails started as far back as the last governorship election in Edo State when the station was paid about N35 million to carry a live coverage of PDP campaign rallies.

He noted that PDP members, who spoke during the campaign, resorted to reigning invectives on the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, and its candidate during the live transmission of the rallies.

According to him, “Although I can’t really understand why these things happened the way they did during the 2015 polls, because when I was DG there was election in Edo State.

When the PDP came with about N35 million for live coverage of their campaign activities in the state, I took the money and then when they started the campaign I just saw on air- direct live- that it was all insult upon insult.

“It was not even the journalists covering the campaign that called me and drew my attention; it was our secretary of the board that called me and said, ‘Mr Mayaki, do you see what is going on on-air?’

So, I called the man who is on transmission, Mr Balogun, and said, ‘What can we do about this development?’ He said we can use delayed broadcast and edit (out) whatever insult before we pass it on to the public.

“And that is exactly what we did. Anything they said, once it was insulting we cut it off and, at the end of the day, we pass on only the good aspects of the message that they wanted to pass. So, we continued doing that for the three or four hours that they wanted the programme to be aired.”

The former NTA boss regretted that he paid dearly for taking such professional measures as the PDP later reported him to the presidency causing the then chief of staff to the president, Chief Oghiadohme, to issue him a query.

He however expressed delight that “the then minister of information, Labaran Maku, stood by me. He didn’t waver because he knew what I had done and he was very, very okay with it. But how many of us have that kind of stamina to withstand that kind of pressure?

“Pressures are always coming from everywhere, but if you are very professional, you would know that ‘this one, I should not take it’. Like for us, we were not actually journalists; I just happened to be in NTA and was the most senior officer and I know that the thing was wrong.

“If I were there during the 2015 electioneering period, I wouldn’t have taken it with all their money, and I even heard that there was no money paid for all the insults,” he stated.



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