*Virus-infected Reps’ committee report submitted
Now that the report of the Ad Hoc Committee of the House of Representatives set up to investigate the Digital Switch Over project has been submitted to the House plenary for consideration, it can be argued that the battle for the soul of the Integrated Television Services (ITS) has entered another phase.
With this development it can be assumed that the Pinnacle Communications has crossed the House hurdle and is now at vantage position to consolidate on this unfortunate gains in its schemes to eventually take over the operations of the ITS.
In the last couple of weeks the Pinnacle Communications, through its surrogates had unleashed a well-oiled media attack on officials of the ITS who it sees as obstacle against its plot to seize the company from NTA, from which it was unbundled as a separate business entity.
They have written a series of petitions to ICPC, EFCC, National Assembly etc. alleging underhand dealings against ITS officials in the management of the DSO programme, but contrary to the impression they try to create with those allegations, ITS is a huge success story, having migrated Nigeria from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, the first ever in Nigeria.
The unbundling of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) gave birth to the ITS as a commercial entity charged with the responsibility of rolling out the switch over in its capacity as the sole signal distributor for other private broadcast outfits that were required to key into the project.
Pinnacle Communications under arm deals: Seeing the prospects in the business venture, the Pinnacle Communications through other players with vested interests (phase 3 Telecom), signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with ITS to ensure smooth rollout of signal distribution network nationwide.
Under this arrangement, the Pinnacle was roped in to replicate best practices as the 2nd Broadcast Service Distribution (BSD).
But somewhere along the line, it was learnt that the deal got stuck in between Ministry of Information, the NTA and the NBC, that were expected to ratify the MOU ostensibly because officials that were supposed to approve the deal, appear to be uncomfortable with the request by phase 3 telecom to be given more than 51% of the Joint Venture (JV).
Why ITS officials face negative media reports: The failure of this MOU to see the light of day is seen by insider sources in NTA as principally responsible for the hostility by Pinnacle Communications against ITS. The fact that ITS, successfully migrated Nigeria from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Broadcast with little or no technical assistance from Pinnacle Communications, has also remained a source of envy for the Pinnacle Communications, which perhaps explains why the officials of the company are being profiled for negative publicity and unwarranted scrutiny by the public.
They had expected ITS to fail. But having been jolted by its success story, which they do not want to publicly admit, Pinnacle Communications and their sponsors have begun to struggle for the soul of the company through the manufacturing of falsehoods and spreading of lies to discredit the entire DSO project.
Who leaked Reps’ report before submission? The recent leakage of the report of the House of Representative Ad Hoc Committee set up to investigate the DSO project, even before its submission last week, is a clear pointer to the culpability of Pinnacle Communications in the plot to acquire ITS.
The House of Representative had constituted an Ad Hoc committee to investigate the entire DSO project in response to the petition filed by the Pinnacle Communications, claiming that the entire project had been marred by corruption, incompetence and underhand dealings by officials that handled the project, namely: the NTA, the NBC and particularly the ITS, which is the prime target of the probe.
It was therefore not surprising that the committee adopted wholesale the position held by the Pinnacle Communications which called for a review of the operations of ITS, as the single signal distributor in the DSO project, ignoring completely the submissions made to it by the ITS detailing its modus operandi as set out in the Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) in the white paper.
Jaundiced Reps’ report favour Pinnacle: To further convince the Pinnacle Communications that the committee was out to do it’s biding, the report recommend Pinnacle Communications as the most viable alternative broadcast platform to handle the business of signal distribution under the new broadcast digital template for Nigeria.
Our finding have since revealed that the leadership of the House Ad Hoc Committee and a few of its members are in cahoots with the Chief Executive of Pinnacle Communications in the plot to seize the ITS and hand it over to the Pinnacle Communications through the legislative instrument of the House of Representatives.
Patriotic Nigerians have since cried out against this attempt to rip off the government and people of Nigeria of the huge investment made to the DSO project for the selfish and pecuniary interest of a few people who desperately want to rip where they did not sow. It remains to be seen if their cries will be addressed by the House of Representatives in the days, weeks and months ahead before a final decision will be taken by the National Assembly.
While the public awaits the final decision of the National Assembly on this extremely compromised report, given the circumstances that led to the constitution of the Ad Hoc Committee of the House that did the hatchet job, Nigerians should also be weary of one Mr. Tony Dara, who goes about claiming to be a broadcast engineer and has been authoring the negative commentaries in the media against the DSO and the integrity of the ITS officials.
The said Tony Dara, is actually a stooge of the Pinnacle Communications chief executive officer. He worked as a technical assistant with the NTA before he was sacked by his employers in 2016 after he absconded from duty. We have documents to support our position on him.