A bill currently before the House of Representatives is seeking to reposition the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in such a way that each of the six geopolitical zones of the country would have a national station, including one in Abuja and Lagos.
The bill passed second reading last month and was referred to the committee on information and national orientation for further action.
It is titled “A bill for an Act to amend the FRCN Act, Cap F18 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010 to provide for national stations in each of the geo-political zones, Abuja and Lagos, to enhance efficient service delivery and for related matters.”
In all, the bill has seven clauses, which means it seeks to amend seven sections of the FRCN Act.
A cardinal objective of the bill is to substitute the position of “managing directors” under the current Act with “directors” to ensure harmonious and well-coordinated governance structure, according to the bill sponsor, Rep Garba Ibrahim Mohammed (APC, Kano).
Our correspondent observed from a copy of the bill that what obtains in the Act is a situation where the positions of heads of national stations are referred to as “managing directors” whereas they are actually “directors.”
Other objectives of the bill include to enhance efficient service delivery, reposition FRCN to acquire capacity to meet the information needs and expectations of Nigerians, diversify the corporation’s services to ensure listeners’ satisfaction and strengthen the corporation to discharge its statutory mandate.
The amendment is to also facilitate productivity, efficiency and organizational loyalty through a well-defined administrative hierarchy, empower the supervising minister of the corporation to make regulations considering the “tight schedule” of the president and promote the interest of listeners through programmes that accommodate religious, cultural and linguistic diversification.
As it is today, the FRCN as a public broadcaster has its headquarters in Abuja with national stations in Enugu (South-East), Ibadan (South-West), Kaduna (North-West) and Gwagwalada, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja as well as an operations office in Lagos with a total of 37 FM/MW/SW stations nationwide.
This means that the North-East, North-Central and South-South do not have a national station. But if the bill becomes law, all of them will have one each.
The bill, in Clause 4, proposes an amendment where Section 15 will be substituted with a new one, which provides for the appointment of directors for each national station as heads of administrative and technical operations in the stations.
Clause 5 is concerned with an amendment to Section 16, which will be substituted to provide for the functions of the directors in the national stations as proposed in Clause 4.
The proposed section provides three basic functions for the directors which include the operation of the station and control of the general policy of the station’s programmes in such a manner as to ensure that all programmes are selected with due regard to the distinctive culture, interest and taste of the people of the station on the one hand, and the fulfillment of national needs on the other hand, and conform to any standard laid down by the corporation.
The second function is the supervision and control over the acts of all employees of the corporation in the station subject to the approval of the corporation, while the third is the performance of such other functions as the corporation may delegate from time to time.
While Clause 6 seeks an amendment to Section 32 to empower the minister responsible for information to make regulations in order to relieve the president of his tight schedule, Clause 7 provides the citation of the bill, which is the “Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria Act (amendment) Bill, 2017.”
Muhammad Sani Zorro (APC, Jigawa), a former President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) said as good as the idea of repositioning FRCN is, there was a need for caution.
He said repositioning the corporation should not be concentrated on the wordings of the Act and their substitutions but on how the corporation could be strengthened structurally to perform optimally.