A former Secretary to the Government of Katsina state, Alhaji Mustapha Muhammad Inuwa, is now a chieftain of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). Severally, he had launched attacks on Governor Ibrahim Shema’s administration but last month, he went to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to complain against Malam Ladan Salihu, the Zonal Director of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria(FRCN) Kaduna, for allegedly muzzling his views. He explains to IBRAHEEM MUSA why he went to NBC.
I learnt that you petitioned the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) because the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Kaduna refused to air your interview. Why did you take such an extreme measure?
In brief, what I tried to highlight in the petition is to complain to NBC to intervene on the deliberate attempt by the Zonal Director of the FRCN Kaduna, Malam Ladan Salihu, to stifle the voice of the opposition from Katsina state. This is the third time that I made attempts to use the services of FRCN Kaduna, to air my views on the way and manner the state government is being run but all the times we were blocked. This I found unacceptable and I tried as much as I could, to meet with the Zonal Director in order to reach an amicable solution to the problem but he seemed not interested. All the time, he refused to answer my calls, short messages and so on. So, I resolved to write to the National Broadcasting Commission(NBC), which I believe is the regulatory organ that controls radio stations in Nigeria, to intervene, investigate the matter and take appropriate actions.
You mentioned three instances when you were blocked from airing your views on the FRCN Kaduna, can you list them?
The first time was when I attempted to participate in the Hausa phone in programme, Hannu da yawa. I came to Kaduna on the understanding that I would do the programme on Saturday, and I made the necessary payment but at the H-hour, I was told that the Zonal Director had directed that I shouldn’t be put on air. The second time, I was even recorded for a Hausa programme called Demokradiya adon Kasa, after paying the amount that the radio station usually charges. Later I was also told that the Zonal Director had directed that the interview shouldn’t be aired and my money should be refunded to me. No reason was given. There was also a time when a member of the House of Representatives, representing Kankiya, Kusada and Ingawa, Hon Ahmed Kaita, made efforts to be interviewed at the FM Katsina, which is under the FRCN Kaduna. The interview was disallowed until after the Director General of FRCN, Alhaji Yusuf Nuhu personally intervened. So, you see, what we realised is that there is a systematic move by the Zonal Director of FRCN Kaduna, to block any voice of the opposition from Katsina state. This we find unacceptable because FRCN Kaduna is for everybody and it was established on the basis of fairness to all. And I believe that was what earned the radio station a name and reputation. So, we would not allow someone to soil the good name of the corporation which the founding fathers suffered to establish.
Did you bother to find out the reasons why your interviews have been embargoed?
The Zonal Director did not give any official reason; he said that there was embargo but did not explain. The whole thing borders on an issue which happened some years back. I think there was an alleged fraud between his office and when Katsina state government sponsored a programme. It is a well known issue that led to his suspension and we understand that the governor of Katsina state was said to have blocked every move by the committee which was set up by the federal government to investigate the matter. He didn’t allow the principal witness to testify before the committee, forcing it to wind up and in fact, to even recall the Zonal Director from suspension. So, I believe that is why he is doing the bidding of the governor now. I think this is his personal problem which he created himself and therefore, he should not use it to jeopardise the good intentions of other people who want a good government in Katsina state, by voicing out the feelings of majority of the people in the state.
Does the so called embargo extend to other opposition parties in Katsina state, or is it specific to only you and your party, the Congress for Progressive Change(CPC)?
I think it is only CPC that is vocal. I don`t know of other parties but for CPC, I`m sure that we are not allowed to utilise the services of FRCN Kaduna and its FM station in Katsina state. And in fact, so far, about three General Managers were transferred out of Katsina on the request of the governor. Once he is not happy with what a GM is doing, he tells the Zonal Director to transfer you and he does it with ease.
Before petitioning the NBC, did you contact the Director General of FRCN and complained about what happened, because the Zonal Director is under him?
Yes, the ZD is under him but I think NBC is concerned with the ethics of broadcasting. So, we feel that we should go to a body that is in charge of regulating and supervising the conduct of radio stations. But we copied our petition to the DG of FRCN, and even the Minister of Information. So, I think that writing to NBC was the most appropriate thing to do. But by copying the DG, we are sure that he is aware of our petition.
But don’t you think that you jumped the gun by going to the highest regulatory body. Why didn’t you explore the mechanisms for redress within FRCN before going to NBC?
We don`t have the time to drag all these things. We wanted to even resolve this amicably with Ladan Salihu but it was like he was not interested in that, so we felt that we should go to the body that would investigate the matter professionally and take decision on that.
Filed Under: Media