By John Tega
National President, Vanguard for Transparent Leadership and Democracy (VATLAD), Comrade (Engr.) Igbini Odafe Emmanuel, has commended labour leaders for raising the alarm on the near collapse state of Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) Warri and Asaba.
Igbini who said this through an official press release, added: “From all proven facts and evidence, the political elites of Delta State are directly responsible for the collapse of DBS, with a few civil servants exploiting the situation to also enrich themselves.”
He added: “Some political elites in Delta State see DBS and some agencies of Delta State Government as sources of recovering and profiting after their financial investments in the election campaigns of Governors of Delta State, while others are compensated with appointments into Boards of the service by Governors of the state.
“It is imperative to remind Deltans that during the tenures of Governors Ibori and Uduaghan, Deltans witnessed a very violent crisis between members of Boards of DBS and Management of DBS and the disturbing cause of the crisis is struggle over who controls and manages the funds accruing to the Service. The intention is never for the growth, development and smooth running of the Service and improvement of the welfare of the workers; rather it is more for benefits of the individuals.”
He said further: “There is a law in Delta State passed by the Delta State House of Assembly for DBS. A very progressive law indeed! But the political elites have often deliberately violated this law with impunity in order to hijack the Service and its funds for their personal benefits.
“For instance, the law clearly defines the duties, powers and limits of the appointed members of the Board of the Service. It also clearly defines the powers, duty and limits of the General Managers who are also the Chief Executive Officers fully responsible for the day to day running of the Service, while the Boards are only to make policies for the smooth running of the Service and also to use their external influences to help in the growth and development of the Service.
“But sadly, the opposite is the case. Some members of Boards deliberately usurp the powers of the GMs/CEOs of the Service. We had in the past where some members of Boards insisted they are the CEOs and must run the service full time and on a daily basis. This is the height of disregard of the law of Delta State.”
He hinted how in 2008/2009, he was officially permitted by Gov. Uduaghan to get involved in resolving a similar crisis between the then Board and GM/CEO of DBS Warri when all efforts made by the then Commissioner of Information proved abortive.
He said: “To help resolve the issue I instituted a suit in court against Governor Uduaghan, the leadership of Delta State House of Assembly, and others with a view to getting the court to pronounce that there were gross violations of the Delta State law establishing Delta State Broadcast Service. This helped to bring sanity to the Service, as Governor Uduaghan made sure the General Managers and Management were indeed allowed to run and manage the Service on a daily basis as stipulated by the law without overbearing influence or pressure from the political elites.
“The Commissioner of Information was also restricted to only supervising the Service where need arises.”
He posited that the way forward was for the Delta State law (which is very progressive) to be fully implemented, saying that this will put Delta State Broadcasting Service at par with its contemporaries such as Lagos, Ogun and other state owned broadcast stations that are on satellite networks and compete favourably with leading private states in Nigeria.
He also called on the Delta State House of Assembly to compel the Executive Arm of Delta State Government, specifically, the Governor, Commissioner of Information and members of Boards of DBS to operate strictly in compliance with provisions of the law of Delta State Broadcasting Service.
He continued: “Governor Okowa must direct all political appointees to respect the law and allow the General Managers and management of DBS to be fully in charge of the running of the Service.
“The Delta State House of Assembly Committee must ensure it carries out regular and thorough oversight functions of the Service,” saying that Governor Okowa should as a matter of urgency direct a probe into the management of finances and funds accruing to the Service with a view to identifying any loopholes being allegedly exploited to defraud the Service and Delta State.
“Governor Okowa must immediately review appointments and ensure only qualified, proven incorruptible and patriotic media professionals within and outside the Service who are Delta State indigenes be appointed to manage the Service.”
He also called for an urgent purchase of vital equipment such as digital cameras, operational vehicles, etc needed by the staff of the Service to deliver quality broadcasting.
On the welfare of staff, Igbini called for an improvement in order to motivate the workers.
According to him, “the staff in the core departments should be sent on regular trainings to expose them to new techniques and technologies in operation in private broadcast services in Nigeria.”
You will recall that the management and labour leaders of DBS Warri were recently invited by the Delta State House of Assembly Committee on Information for investigation of the petition written by the Labour Unions against the management of the service.
Igbini also praised the legislators for the prompt action taken by the Delta State House of Assembly to investigate the serious allegations raised by the labour leaders in their petition.
He noted: “DBS is very critical in educating and informing Deltans of policies and programmes of Delta State Government and also helps to unite all parts of Delta State. Sadly, the present sad situation has continued to divide Delta State into two major parts while the policies and programmes of Delta State Government are hardly known to all parts of Delta State.
“The situation where Delta State Governor communicates to Deltans through other private stations that are on the satellite makes it difficult for Deltans to know the progress being made by Delta State Government and the challenges it faces.
“The Lagos State Government easily and effectively communicates with Lagosians within the state and abroad using its Lagos TV that is both on the satellite and terrestrial networks. This is what DBS should be and do for Delta State Government.”