By Toby Prince
The National Broadcasting Corporation is a regulatory agency. As such, it must never be seen that regulatory agencies are complicit in enforcing standards, especially in the critical broadcast industry in Nigeria.
It was, therefore, a worrisome situation when it was observed that the agency was enmeshed in untoward practices as enshrined by the former director-general, which led to his suspension from office and eventually sack after investigations into allegations of graft.
However, there seems to be a new lease of life at the NBC since the coming on board of veteran broadcaster Balarabe Shehu Ilelah as Director-General. I recall that when the appointment was announced, there were immediate reactions from stakeholders in the broadcast industry. While some raised eyebrows, the majority were elated with the quality of the experience and pedigree of the new DG.
The recent happenings at NBC today indeed justified the positions of those elated stakeholders. Their position was hinged on the pedigree and professionalism of Balarabe Sheu Illelah. And he has not failed in his efforts towards repositioning the NBC and cleaning the Augean stable.
My excitement knows no bounds with feelers from the NBC, where many innovations have been introduced to better position the NBC in delivering its mandate of serving as the watchdog of the broadcasting industry in Nigeria. This is indeed a new era at the NBC, where the mechanism has been introduced to ensure that the NBC stays true to its mandate.
This is indeed an example of leadership at its peak. The question is, are we surprised? The answer is no because the new DG comes onboard with a rich cv that speaks volumes of an exceptional career as a broadcaster par excellence that rose through the ranks both in practice and at the administrative levels.
He is a seasoned administrator who has substantial experience in the broadcast industry in Nigeria. I recall that a professional colleague once said that one of the best decisions of the Muhammadu Buhari administration was the appointment of Balarabe Shehu IIelah. Please permit me to reproduce here: “Balarabe would hit the ground running. He would be soft and hard. He would turn around the fortunes of the NBC in record time, and it won’t be business as usual.”
True to his prediction, Balarabe Shehu Illelah has been outstanding in the short period he assumed the agency’s leadership. The reforms he introduced has been yielding dividends in the sense that professionalism and adherence to the principles of transparency and accountability are strictly adhered to. The era of compromising or cutting corners is gone as there are in place various levels of checks and balances in the agency’s operations.
According to reliable information gathered from the agency, it was stated that the new DG does not mince words regarding what he wants to achieve. He has read the riot act, and the level of compliance has been astonishing. It was also gathered that the DG made it clear that he would lead by example, and he has reportedly gotten the assurances and buy-in of the management team of the NBC.
In all of these, one thing stands strong: once there is a will, there is always a way. And in my opinion, that is essentially what is required in Nigeria in our quest for sustainable growth and development. We need leaders with a penchant for putting the country first. We need leaders who can translate the hopes and aspirations of the people into tangible realities. And that is what the NBC DG has demonstrated since he assumed leadership of the agency.
Let us make no mistakes; there would be resistance from some merchants that have benefited from the rot in the NBC in times past. They will throw all sorts of spanners and engage in character assassination to derail the DG. They will also peddle falsehood to create an atmosphere of doubts regarding the sincerity of heart and purpose of the DG in fulfilling the critical mandate of the agency and other ignoble acts too numerous to mention.
In all honesty, I think some of these despicable acts are beginning to manifest as I read somewhere recently where it was stated that the DG had busied himself with awarding indiscriminate contracts to friends and cronies. It was expected and indeed a puerile one. And some of us were not surprised because it has become a norm in this country where the “Pull Down” syndrome reigns supreme.
At this point, the only advice I have for the DG is for him not to be distracted by the antics of the select few who are bent on blackmailing him to submission. For him, he must not lose sight of the overarching objective, which is to reposition the NBC for greater productivity.
I will also advise the DG to continue to ensure that the reforms he introduced to block leakages and compromises are sustained. He must also stay true to his values of providing leadership through his words and actions.
Therefore, it behoves on all stakeholders in the broadcast industry to extend their support to the ongoing reforms introduced by the DG. They must come to terms with the reality that the ultimate aim is the common goal of ensuring that the broadcast industry in Nigeria conforms to international best practices.
The embarrassing era of controversial regulatory policies should be replaced with the era of proactive policies that address the issues in the broadcast industry in Nigeria. This, I believe, is the hallmark of the Balarabe Shehu Illelah era at the NBC since he assumed leadership.
It is thus glaring that should the DG continue in this fashion; greater days indeed lies in wait for the NBC and the broadcast industry in Nigeria. And those whose stock in trade is to slander and misinform; I think they ought to have a rethink. The Balarabe Shehi Illeha that I know is a man on a mission, and no amount of blackmail can deter him. The new NBC leadership deserves all the support it can get.
Prince wrote this article from Guzape.