Information and culture minister Lai Mohammed secured presidential approval for radio licences for 30 unvetted and unprocessed companies, some employees of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) allege.
The employees identify themselves as ‘Concerned NBC Staff’.
The NBC workers made the allegation in a petition dated March 19 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari.
They said the licences were awarded to “friends, political associates and cronies” of the minister without the knowledge and input of the NBC, a situation they described as dangerous for the broadcasting industry.
“Broadcasting in Nigeria is in grave danger and national security has been breached because no company is expected to be issued a licence 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,” the petition partly read.
“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 Mohammed.
“They are being offered radio licences 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 group of workers called for the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari to curb the excesses of Mohammed.
It continued, “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 Mohammed to order. He should allow NBC to carry out its statutory functions. He is not the Minister of NBC affairs.”
They also accused the minister of using NBC to pursue a personal agenda like the recent announcement of Alhaji Lateef Bolarinwa as the Chairman of the NBC board.
This was described as a move to reward the factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kwara State, who had lost out in Mohammed’s political fight with the state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.
They accused the minister of trying to have 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 Mohammed,” the group of workers added.