Nigeria: Wonder why NTA did not cover APC primary election? My take.

13 Dec

Yesterday, a friend was curious to know why the Nigerian Television Authority did not run a live transmission of Nigeria’s main opposition party, All Progressives Congress APC, primary election in which Gen. Muhammad Buhari (rtd) emerged the flagbearer.
I was quick to taunt that he must have been the only Nigerian that had expected such to happen.              I knew it wasn’t true. But I said it to ease him, carefully, into the understanding that in the West African context, as I know, such is expected to be the case especially in countries where national broadcasters rely heavily on the government for its daily activities.
We have seen instances in West Africa where a pact exists between the government and the national broadcaster to – on the premise of being independent – always receive funding from the government, as subvention, to make provision for certain aspects of the broadcaster’s operations while it work out other means, especially through IPO shares from the public and other services, to cover the remaining cost of its operation.
This will create a sort of balance; accountability, if carried out to the letter – the government will not be able to control the broadcaster; and the broadcaster will not disappoint the public. Obliquely, the broadcaster will cover what interests the public and what they deem appropriate to gain more patronage. Yet, it will not relent in designing new programmes and projects as it strives to be profitable and be investment-attractive. Unfortunately, that has not been achieved for one reason or the other, and it has been business as usual.
Until such happens, entities like NTA will continue to find themselves in the centre of muddled political water that stinks of alignment to a side, a recipe for greater disunity. In other words, as my friend put it, it will always ‘be unfortunate’ until the status quo changes.
Institutions like NTA have to be independent and competitive as expected – be run as a business seeking profit and rely on subvention only from whichever government is at home. If that had been the case, these highly uptight pre-election days would have been a perfect period for NTA to make huge profit more than any of its earning in the last four years because of its nationwide coverage.
But most of the sub-stations have been weakened in capacity, made to relax and look to the government to pay their bills with little or no interesting programmes to captivate the audience. I can’t remember the last time I chose to watch one of the NTA stations except for when I want to get a feel of home while outside the country.
However, from another view, it is possible that APC top members did not extend an invitation to NTA for a coverage of the event because they’ll say ‘NTA won’t show up’ which could be 80% true. My friend had asked if the party had to invite NTA to cover such a ‘very big event of public interest’. Yes, they had to. NTA is free to choose whichever programme it will cover based on the brief explanation I’d made earlier. We need to always remember that it would be difficult for NTA to cover all political parties’ primaries – not only for APC. However, what could have been the best for NTA, in this case, is not to cover any party primaries – including PDP – at all.

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