Worried by the condemnation that greeted the plans to amend the laws establishing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigeria Press Council (NPC), the sponsor of the bill, Hon. Olusegun Odebunmi, representing Ogo Oluwa/Surulere Federal Constituency in Oyo State, has decided to drop it.
The lawmaker who is also chairman of the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values, said the legislative process on the bills (NBC and NPC) has been suspended for further consultations.
He disclosed this on Tuesday, July 13, when he featured as guest, on a popular television programme, monitored by our correspondent.
Nigerdeltaconnect had reported earlier that there has been widespread protests by the print media against the media regulation bill, which is currently being debated at the House of Representatives.
On Monday, all major newspapers, ran a cover page with a public notice titled “Information blackout”, which vehemently indicated their rejection of the proposed amendment.
Hon. Odebunmi, explained that his intention in seeking to amend the NBC and the NPC, was not to gag the press as being peddled by some individuals and groups, but to make some amendments aimed at fixing lapses in the practice of journalism in the country.
According to him: “Personally, I’m suspending the process of amending the NBC and NPC bills for more consultations.
“What I’m saying is that the NUJ cannot gag the activities of the National Assembly by saying ‘No you must drop it’, because obviously, that is not the way.
“We have suspended the process for more consultations to happen on it. They demanded for a lot of time and I said ‘no problem, we have given you; even if you spend three, four to five weeks.
“So far, more consultations from critical stakeholders, and many people have been submitting their memoranda to the national assembly even within the industry.
“My intention is not to gag the press and unless all the practitioners can say all is well with the industry, to the best of my knowledge I know all is not well. And I know the National Assembly has the power to look into the existing act.
“All is not well with the NPC agency. It is an agency of government and you’re expecting something to be given back to the society but until now nothing has been coming from the agency”, he stated.