In what looks to be part of political intrigues ahead of the 2019 general election, the Nigerian Television Authority , NTA, on Saturday, November 24, 2018, declined to broadcast the 13th anniversary of the American University of Nigeria, AUN, Yola live despite receiving millions of naira.
In a swift reaction, however, NTA executive director of news, Muhammad Labbo denied political sabotage, though claimed that NTA could not broadcast the confirmed that the Atiku media paid for live broadcast the programme live due to what he ascribed to technical hitches.
NTA was duly paid, insiders in the Atiku Campaign Organisation confirmed, and the payment was acknowledged and confirmed for the live broadcast of the programme between 4pm to 6pm on Saturday, November 24, 2018.
The anniversary, also known as Founder’s Day, is a day set aside to celebrate the founder of the university and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
The source revealed that the NTA sent its Outside Broadcast, OB, deployed from Jos and they were on ground before the programme started, thinking they were about to go live.
He said, “When I entered into the hall, about half way or thereabout, we started receiving calls from all over the country, people who knew that we normally run live coverage of it said they could not watch it. They did not start the live coverage at all.”
He said he tried “to contact NTA headquarters in Abuja, but its management cannot give any tangible reason for not broadcasting the programme live. I contacted their people on ground, the production people at their OB van and they look sorrowful.
“It was clear that there are some conspiracy at work from NTA headquarters in Abuja, working the script of the federal government and a president Muhammadu Buhari.
“If not for the last minute decision to accommodate Sliverbird Television as the second network for live coverage, the 13 edition of the programme would have been like lighting a candle and covering it, nobody would have known about it.”
However, the source did not disclose the exact amount paid for the 2 hours live coverage. According to a staff of NTA, two-hour life broadcast often costs for N7 million. There is no one-hour live broadcast. We only have two-hour live broadcast, which costs N7 million.
When contacted, Atiku’s media adviser, Mr. Paul Ibe confirmed that indeed there was a contract between NTA and Atiku media office.
“We have received a call from across the country and even outside the country from concerned people who were expecting to be availed the opportunity to follow the proceedings of the programme on NTA. We are accessing the situation to determine the next line of action.”
In his response, Labbo explained the technical problem that prevented NTA from broadcasting the programme live, which according to him, had to do with the international satellite transmission.
He said, “When they called me and drew my attention to it, I made contact with the operational head, he told me that they were having serious technical challenge in Yola. They gave me the technical explanation, it has to do with our international satellite transmission.
“When I got the information, I called Paul Ibe back because he was the one that called me and made that complaint. I explained to him that they were recording it. Then they will be able to make it after they finish recording or at any time when they resolve the technical issue.
“The programme was transmitted, although not live. But it was transmitted in full when our technical people resolved the matter. I want to make an appeal. NTA is a public broadcaster. NTA is for everybody. NTA should not be dragged into politics.”