*Have Reps been bought over to rip the nation?
From Muhammed Mubarak
Following a series of negative media campaigns against the Integrated Television Services (ITS) and instigated probe of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project, the Pinnacle Communications maybe positioning itself to acquire the company, as the sole signal distributor under the programme.
The Integrated Television Services (ITS) was unbundled from NTA as a commercial entity in September 2015 under the current Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. However, having successfully migrated Nigeria from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting in June this year, the company has come under tremendous pressure mounted by those who want to reap off the people and government of Nigeria from the monumental benefits that accrue in the new broadcast technology.
The current move to acquire the company can be gleaned from a report of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee which investigated the DSO project, at the instance of the Pinnacle Communications and which is trending on the internet for ulterior motives of profiling the ITS and it’s management of wrong doing in the handling of the project, which from all indications, is a resounding success in areas of its coverage.
Apparently, the report had been posted on the social media by those behind the plot even when it had not been adopted by the Committee, nor discussed at the House plenary contrary to the standing rules of the House of Representatives.
The report which can be described as a Pinnacle Communications compendium completely ignored all submissions made by the ITS, to the committee at the public hearing containing details of its mandate set out in the Presidential Advisory Committee whitepaper, as the major signal distributor with the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project, and instead adopted wholesale, the position held by the Pinnacle Communications which was meant to project it as a prospective undertaker of ITS, even without requisite capacity, capital and knowledge of the complex nature of the digital broadcast template for Nigeria.
The 18-page document made some curious recommendations in favour of the Pinnacle Communications thereby unwittingly exposing the plot to position the company as better placed to manage ITS, as it called for a review of ITS operation and attempted to discredit the present ITS management through manipulation of facts and figures to suit a preconceived objective.
It is not clear what role the chairman of the Ad Hoc Committeee and his secretary played in the suspected plot, but informed sources have hinted at a possible collusion between some committee members and chief executive of the Pinnacle communication who we learnt enjoy very cosy relationship together.
But majority of the 13-member committee headed by Hon. Sunday Marshal Katung, that were contacted have distanced themselves from the report which is purportedly written in their names, claiming that only a few of them who accompanied the Pinnacle Communications CEO to a United State trip of recent were privy to the said report.
It could be recalled that surrogates of some influential people in power had sought to acquire shares in ITS and even went ahead to sign pact with the Pinnacle Communications to supply kits to ITS for deployment in the digital switch over project.
Smarting from the loss of what would have amounted to billions of Naira to his company, as a result of the failure of the deal scaling through as planned, the chief executive of Pinnacle Communications, launched a series of blackmail and negative media commentaries against the ITS, and it’s management through a protégé of his, one Tony Dara, who claims to be an expert in broadcast engineering, but who, was actually fired by the Nigerian Television Authority NTA, his former employers, for absconding from duty.
The House of Representatives, may have to thread softly on this report to avoid being stampeded, or used as a rubber stamp by people with vested interests in the suspected plot against the Integrated Television Services, ITS, and its management.
Muhammed Mubarak, a Public affairs analyst contributed this piece from Abuja