Presidency Replies Critics, Washes Hands off Media Bills

The presidency has washed its hands off the current attempt by the National Assembly to amend the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act, a move, media stakeholders and other Nigerians have condemned as an attempt to gag the press.

In a swift response, the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to order, accusing the minister of being the brain behind the antagonistic amendment bills.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, who spoke yesterday with journalists after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), said although it is an initiative of the government, only the Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, can address it.

His words: “That is not strictly a presidency thing because the president has nothing to do with that. It’s a government thing and it’s the minister that can talk about it. So, thank you.”

He also informed that there was nothing to report on the FEC meeting as the issues discussed were not meant for public consumption at this stage.

The spokesman, however, revealed that the president has approved that the Second Peer Review Country Self-assessment Report should be done.

He said: “The only thing of interest I would like to talk about is the second Peer Review Country’s Self-assessment Report. Nigeria is ready for the second Peer Review Country Self -assessment Report to be done by AUDA-NEPAD.

I think the last self-assessment report was done 10 years ago in Nigeria. Now, Nigeria is ready for the second review self-assessment report. It’s been discussed at the council and the president has granted the approval that that peer review report can be conducted on Nigeria.

“Actually, if you have an insight into the report that was presented, which the woman in charge of NEPAD, Mrs. Akobundu, can give you, Nigeria has made progress in several areas and on several fronts.

While 10 years ago, petroleum contributed more than 70%, even up to 90%, to GDP, you will find that today, petroleum contributes just about 45% and non-oil products contribute about 55% to the Nigerian economy.

“So, if Nigeria had been talking of diversification for 40, 50, 60 years, the economy can now be said to be diversified because our GDP, non-oil revenue, contributes about 55% to 45% of oil. So, it’s one of the highlights of the Peer Review Country Self-assessment Report that was presented at the Council meeting today. Details of that can be gotten from the AUDA-NEPAD office.”

The Media Adviser also disclosed that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, is studying the ruling by the ECOWAS Court to the effect that Twitter users cannot be arrested or prosecuted following the suspension of the activities of the microblogging site in the country.

According to him, the AGF would advise the federal government on the next step to take.
Adesina confirmed that the committee made up of ministers to engage Twitter over its suspension has commenced work.

“The Attorney-General of the Federation is going to study that report and then he’ll advise the government on the way forward.

“The committee set up by the president to engage with Twitter is actually holding a meeting about now, or it will hold a meeting this afternoon (Wednesday) towards engaging with Twitter,” he said.


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