A South African broadcasting company, (namewithheld) in conjunction with its Nigerian subsidiary has once again failed in its bid to throw spanner in the works of the smooth migration of the country from analogue television to digital broadcasting.
Sources revealed that although this foreign company did not take part in the competitive bid, it tried to join the process through the backdoor, a move vehemently rejected by the director-general of National Broadcasting Commission, MallamIs’haq Modibbo Kawu.
Not done yet, officials of this South African broadcasting company are allegedly collaborating with a serving General in a top Government Security office as well as a top administrative functionary in the Villa pursuing a personal agenda.
The said company and these powerful collaborators are said to using a select few top officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC). Their onslaught culminated in the raging media report of alleged fraud in the award of the Federal Government’s Digital Switch-Over (DSO) project which is seen as a deliberate attempt targeted at tarnishing the good reputation of the director-general of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Is’haq ModibboKawu.
Officials of Pinnacle also distanced the company from any wrongdoing and fraud, so also has the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
What has continued to baffle stakeholders is how the officials of the South Africa broadcasting company tried albeit unsuccessfully to use the ICPC to scuttle the hitherto smooth process of the digital switchover. They urged Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo (under whose watch the ICPC is) to call the ICPC to order so as not to distract the laudable process.
It would be recalled that those behind the fraud allegation are said to be intimidated by Kawu, whose profile has been on a steady rise on account of his superlative performance.
The ICPC story has it that the NBC boss, at the beginning, recommended a private company, Pinnacle Communications Limited, to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to be awarded the contract of the DSO as well as the release of N2.5bn contract sum.
The ICPC report had also alleged that Pinnacle Communications was not qualified to handle the project, which is being spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
The irony is how did a company that ICPC considers not qualified to do the job win a competitive bid conducted in 2014 by the then director-general of the NBC, Mr. Emeka Mba. ICPC is said to be deliberately peddling falsehoods by heaping blames on Modibbo Kawu when it is clear that the Presidency and Hon Minister, Lai Mohammed approved the payment.
Our source who was more like in a mission to spill it all, further revealed that the Presidency had in 2016 released N10bn to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to implement the digital switch-over programme in line with the white paper that was issued. It will be recalled that the project is being specifically handled by two companies – Pinnacle Communications and ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
“Monies were released to these two companies by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on the orders of the Presidency in line with all due process,” a source, who pleaded to be anonymous, said.
The source absolved Kawu and Pinnacle Communications of any wrongdoing, stressing that the alleged fraud story was sponsored by an aggrieved rival company that seems to be losing out with the success of the DSO.
The NBC in a swift reaction to the allegation said it was not aware of any investigation being carried out by the ICPC on its director-general, MallamKawu.
The commission’s spokesperson, Hajia MaimunaJimada, said the NBC “is not aware of any fraud case involving the DG, and therefore not aware of any ICPC investigation on the DG.”
Jimada said the commission had been carrying out the digital switch-over scheme with utmost diligence and transparency, and would continue to do that till the project is completed across the country.
It would also be recalled that Vice President, YemiOsinbanjo, inaugurated the Abuja project while that of Kaduna was done by Governor Nasiru el-Rufai