NBC Set to Curb 'Miracle' Programmes

In an attempt to ensure that half truths and untruths are not used in the broadcast media to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians, the National Broadcasting Commission NBC has carried its campaign on the need to keep to the broadcast code to religious organisations.

Early this week, the Director General of the NBC, Dr. Silas Yisa, paid a visit to the President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Bishop Mike Okonkwo to lay his complaints on what he called offensive programmes by religious organisations on the airwaves.

Dr. Yisa particularly frowned at some programmes which portray miracles that have no relationship with the reality as real and contended that such programmes constitute a fraud on the people and would no longer be tolerated by the commission.

Dr. Yisa said that the visit to the bishop was to intimate him with the NBC broadcast code which sets out the regulations guiding broadcast in the country, and hoped that he would [pass on the message to his members.

He said that in the recent past, the NBC had received several complaints from members of the public on the deceitful religious programmes that are aired by religious organization, stressing that the NBC has a mandate to protect the interest of Nigerians agaist such fraud.

While contending that the NBC believes in miracles and the healing power of God, Dr. Yisa said that the conduct of the miracle pastors constitute a problem.

He said that the NBC believes that for any miracle to be seen as real, it should have some background which would show such miracle to be transparent and real to everybody, stressing that a situation when pastors just come on stage to announce that miracles have been achieved on TV in without showing us testimonials is wrong.

Dr. Yisa further contended that he was aware of the vibrancy of religion in the country and revealed that he is currently under pressure to increase the amount of time allowed for religious broadcasts in the electronic media from 10%, but explained that because of the activities of such offensive religious broadcast, he cannot put such request forward to the relevant authorities.

Replying, Bishop Okonkwo who is also the bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission, said that PFN was equally worried at the conduct of some pastors and had been fighting against the scourge which he said is inimical to the growth of the gospel. He said that the PFN had seen a lot of things on the screen which should be questioned and he had questioned such things leading to serious antagonism from the culprits.

He said that the PFN was not happy about the situation and said that the serious minded servants of God were already working on how to curb the trend, stressing that the organisation would soon act.

He suggested to the NBC that it should begin to ban such programmes which it felt were not good enough to be aired.

Meanwhile Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has called on the National Broadcasting Commission to promote policies and principles that will ensure the freedom of the media as it is an essential ingredient in the development of democracy.

The Governor who received the Director General of NBC, Dr Silas Yisa, in his office last week, noted that Nigeria has the immense opportunity to attract private foreign investment into the sector if it will review its various policy postures, adding that a situation where party in power refuses to allow opponents broadcast on its network does not only hamper the investment opportunities, but also.leaves much to be desired in a nation focus on the maintenance of democratic ideals.

The Governor, noted that active collaboration between business persons in Nigeria and foreign business in a joint venture in an environment devoid of over protection will serve the nation well and promised to lead by example through opening the state communication apparatuses for both political opponents in expressing their own views about governance.

Commenting on the purpose of his visit, the Director General Dr Silas Babajiya Yisa commended the administration for the quality of personnel that manages its Television and radio stations even as he declared that the KAI campaign was an exercise for all well meaning Nigerians.

The DG, also said that the media must actively support the campaign in rebuilding the nation and also urged the Governor to enhance the capacity of the state broadcasting outfit to extend capacity of delivery of signals to Badagry axis, where signals from Republic of Benin are more received than from in the states of Nigeria.

He solicited the Governor's support for the desire to host the Bi annual conference for all African broadcasters scheduled to hold in Abuja in October 2004 adding that the event will draw attention to Nigeria with the benefits of great touristic value.