Fifteen months after the suspension of her former Director General (DG), Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, the National Broadcasting Commission has finally gotten a new boss.
The announcement was brought to public notice, Friday June 11, by the Minister of Information and Culture, Professor Lai Mohammed.
He unveiled the new DG of the Commission as Veteran broadcaster, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah. He is the substantive DG of the NBC and his tenure is to run for five years in the first instance.
He is to take over from Professor Armstrong Aduku Idachaba who was NBC’s Director, Broadcast Policy and Research. Professor Idachaba has been steering the ship of the Commission since February 2020, following the sack of his predecessor, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, who is facing trial for allegedly paying N2.5bn seed grant to Pinnacle Communications Limited, one of the signal distributors for the digital switch-over projects, completely contravening the federal government’s White paper on switch-over from analogue to digital.
Idachaba’s tenure as Acting DG was shrouded with controversies too. Under him the NBC recently asked all social media platforms and online broadcast platforms to register with the Commission. The Commission also asked broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts following a suspension of the microblogging site by the federal government. He worked with Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed to amend the country’s broadcasting code which some stakeholders frowned against. He was acting DG for fifteen months.
The new NBC boss, Balarabe Shehu Ilelah grew up in Bauchi. He attended Kobi Primary School in Bauchi and Junior Secondary School, Misau. He graduated from Bayero University, Kano and worked with NTA, Bauchi before seeking greener pastures at the then Soviet Union where he worked as a journalist for so many years. He is a politician and eventually ran for Bauchi South Senatorial seat under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019, but lost to PDP. He lived in the Soviet Union with his wife and children before relocating to China. He also worked with the BBC World Service before his appointment as NBC Number one man.
Nigerians however, have expressed their dissatisfaction on social media since the appointment of Ilelah. They have frowned against the fact that the new appointment came days after the former DG, Idachaba ordered TV and radio stations to de-install Twitter handles and desist from using Twitter as a source of information gathering for news and programmes in compliance with the Twitter banned in the country.