Journalism of Courage

Controversial NBC/NPC Acts amendment: Presidency disowns it, saying it’s FG’s initiative

...."That is not strictly a Presidency thing because the President has nothing to do with that. It is a government thing and it is the Minister of Information that can talk about it" -- Femi Adesina

The Presidency has disclaimed interest in the ongoing attempts at the National Assembly to amend the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act, saying it is the initiative of the Federal Government not the Presidency.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said: “That is not strictly a Presidency thing because the President has nothing to do with that.

“It is a government thing and it is the Minister of Information that can talk about it.”

He spoke on Wednesday while fielding questions from State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja.

Persecondnews reports that the amendment has attracted strong condemnation from media stakeholders who have described it as an attempt to muzzle the press and close the civic space in the country.

On the ECOWAS Court ruling against Nigeria for suspending the micro-blogging platform, Twitter, Adesina said, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, was “studying the ruling”.

The Court had ruled that Twitter users cannot be arrested or prosecuted following the suspension by the Federal Government for deleting President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets on Biafra civil war.

The attorney general would advise the government on the next step to take, the presidential spokesman said.

Adesina said the Lai Mohammed committee made up of ministers and heads of relevant agencies appointed by Buhari to engage with Twitter had swung into action.

“The Attorney-General of the Federation is going to study that report and then he’ll advise 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 told journalists.

According to him, the President has approved that the Second Peer Review Country Self-assessment Report should be done.

“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 has 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 is 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.

“That is the only thing we can talk about FEC today,” Adesina explained.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Bashir Magashi, and Isa Pantami at the Federal Executive Council Meeting

Attendees at the FEC meeting include Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.

Others are Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Finance Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Defence, retired Bashir Magashi; Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige as well as Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.

The Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr (Mrs) Folashade Yemi-Esan and other ministers participated in the meeting virtually.

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