To underscore the place of credibility in reporting, earlier practitioners of journalism insisted that for news to be credible and believable, it must have six clear elements which are summed up as the Five W’s and one H. Credible news must therefore state clearly Who said that something happened? What exactly happened? When did it happen? Why? Where? And then How was it said or How did it happen?

Over the years, media practitioners, especially reporters have tried their best to see that these important questions are asked and that answers are provided before dishing out reports to the consuming public. It was because of the strategic role of the media as the estate that shapes or moulds societal opinion that such strict requirements are demanded of those practicing the profession.

Today however, things have really changed. The advent of social media has made journalism an all-comers’ vocation, so much so that, illiterate housekeepers, roadside mechanics and barbers among others who have no basic training on reporting, can post materials on the internet and draw thousands of readers within minutes, no matter how senseless the post may be, as long as they have access to internet and data on their mobile phones.

Therefore, much as social media has helped in information sharing, it has continued to cast aspersion on journalism, otherwise a very noble profession.

If it is not so, how would a so called blogger, use his platform to write and post to the public, more than three pages of blatant lies, fabrications and innuendos, making allegations and disparaging remarks against the person of the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed over a recent payment of legitimate entitlement to Pinnacle Communications Limited for services the company rendered and still rendering to the nation?

Pinnacle Communications in 2014 won the bid for the second broadcast signal distribution to provide services towards Nigeria’s Digital Broadcast Switch-over project. ITS, a subsidiary of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) was also licensed for the same purpose.

According to a federal government Whitepaper on the Digital Switch-over (DSO), companies that were licensed to provide “Technical Infrastructure Services that would be used to distribute digital terrestrial television signals across the country,” are to receive grants of various sums from the Federal Government (which were clearly spelt out).

This was to serve as Federal Government’s contribution to the huge sums of money needed for the DSO project. Former President Goodluck Jonathan duly approved the release of the grants.

Subsequently, the government without wasting time, released N1.9Billion to ITS as its own grant but did not release anything to Pinnacle Communications Limited in spite several assurances to effect the release, due largely to a reason only known to the then Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Mr. Emeka Mba.

As if that was not injustice enough, Mba’s NBC balkanised the signal distribution license by giving smaller pieces as licenses to various crony companies to carry out assignments that were hitherto contained in the agreement with signal distributors, a development that seriously affected the smooth operations of the DSO project and on the basis of which Pinnacle dragged the Federal Government to court as far back as 2014 claiming damages in trillions.

In spite of these offensive actions of NBC against signal distributors, Pinnacle has provided first- rate infrastructures in Abuja which led to the successful activation of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) plank of the switch-over November, 2016, in a ceremony that the Vice President represented President Muhammadu Buhari.

There are 30 channels connected to the Abuja infrastructures alone. The one in Kaduna has reached near completion and is billed for switch-over in July 2017 while five others located in different states are on-going, all these by the same company.

Another curious issue raised by the blogger is why Pinnacles should be paid N2.5billion while ITS was paid N1.9Billion.

Again, if the writer had taken time to research and to ask the relevant questions, he would have been told that the grant was scheduled to be paid in Dollars since procurement of equipments and other facilities for the DSO was to come from international markets. Therefore paying ITS N1.9billion in 2015 when Naira exchanged at N160 to a Dollar is far higher than N2.5billion currently, with the Naira exchanging for within N390 to the Dollar.

Is this blogger aware that all the so-called players in the DSO engaged mainly by Emeka Mba have been paid at one time or the other? Is he aware that Set-Top-box manufacturers (though the best anyone of them has is two assembly lines, and only three of them have assembly lines) that have been paid to date 15billion Naira?

What about NBC DSO consultant who takes money from NBC, the Set-Top-box manufacturers and the Content aggregator who in particular has no evidence of having been duly licensed and if licensed not through open and transparent bidding in compliance with the laws of Nigeria. These have all been paid by the NBC, even when the content aggregator currently sells subsidized set top boxes paid for by NBC without a kobo remittance to NBC.

If the blogger was not fed half-truth by his so called “source(s),” he would have been canvassing that all players in the DSO should come out to the public domain and show what each of them have done to merit any money(s) collected from NBC rather than attempting to mislead the public with obviously biased and jaundiced report that is clearly laced with prejudice.

To further expose the tardiness of his write-up, the writer, self- contradicted, when he carelessly alleged that the Minister of Information and Culture unilaterally approved the payment of the N2.5billion to Pinnacle when his approval power stops at N50million while in another paragraph the report stated that “in this case, it is understood that the approval for the payment allegedly came from the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari,” with a most laughable imputation that the payment was “made in secret,” as if it should be advertised worldwide.

By Bonaventure Melah

 

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