As the National Assembly meticulously scrutinizes the 2024 budget for the nation, the Joint Committees on Media and Public Affairs have been given a crucial task—to ensure sufficient budget provisions for Federal Government Media Organizations and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
The call was made by the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria, a Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to promoting ethical and professional media practices, in a press statement released today and signed by its National Coordinator, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi.
The Media Group emphasized the detrimental impact of insufficient annual funding on Media Organizations, hindering progressive steps and commendable projects that could enhance their effectiveness.
Among the affected entities are the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Voice of Nigeria (VON), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and Nigeria Press Council (NPC).
The NOA, which plays a crucial role in mobilization, awareness, and advocacy, is also highlighted as in need of adequate funding to fulfill its mandates.
The group stressed the necessity of reviewing the practice of categorizing media organizations as revenue-generating parastatals paying into the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
They argued that allocating only 35% of generated revenue to these organizations limits their ability to maintain equipment, upgrade standards, and increase remuneration for their workforce.
Citing examples such as NTA, FRCN, and NAN, which maintain over 150 stations nationwide, the group questioned the viability of running such extensive networks without sufficient funding.
They called on the Executive and the National Assembly to prioritize funding for these organizations starting from the upcoming fiscal year.
The Muslim Media Watch Group also cautioned against the commercialization of religious programs on public media organizations, citing a conflict with National Broadcasting Codes.
They stressed that only 10% of weekly programs should be religious, divided equally among existing religious adherents.
Commending the new Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alh. Mohammed Idris, the group described him as a veteran in journalism and an experienced mass communicator, expressing confidence in his ability to contribute positively to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s new cabinet.
Regarding the NOA, the group urged the Federal Government to provide the agency with a fresh mandate and expressed confidence in the new Director-General, Mal. Lanre Issa Onilu, citing his veteran journalism and outstanding mass communication background as promising for a new era in the National Orientation Agency.