By Muhammed Mubarak.
Reading carefully through the two part submissions made by one Mr. Tony Dara, in the Daily Trust of 3rd October, 2017 and the Thisday who claims to be an expert of some sort in broadcast engineering on the ongoing Digital Switch Over (DSO) project, it is not too difficult to see his intensions to smear some officials in the Information Ministry and mislead the public on the concept and implementation plan of the digitization switch over project of the Federal Government.
Rather than acknowledge the effort of officials involved with the project, Mr. Dara, went for their jugular, dismissing them as incompetent and people who in his warped view are only out to short change the system for mere pecuniary benefits.
He overreached himself by quoting extensively, information that he obtained from website of companies that manufactured what he described as ‘Discontinued’, ‘Obsolete’ equipment which he claimed was deployed both for the pilot project in Jos and Ilorin sites to advanced his position. But he failed to educate us on best practices in such situations by original equipment manufacturers.
Anyone who is familiar with the dynamics in the technology world would query Mr. Dara’s reasoning that gadgets that have become obsolete or not in use anymore by their manufacturers must be discarded by those who have bought them when they were still in the market.
This must be one of the most ridiculous ideas to come from one who claims to be an expert engineer, because it falls far short of proper and logical reasoning. If we must help Dara to advance his position, should we then say for instance that people who are still using old hand phones, cars etc. and the list includes the Nigeria Air force which still deploys it’s MIG 15 fighter jets, despite being out of production by its Russian manufacturer should throw them away simply because those products are out of the market? If Dara is not up to some plain mischief, it ought to be clear to him that people use gadget as long as they are in good condition, are serviceable and compliant with standards.
From records available to us, the policy of digitization was put together by a hybrid of key government agencies like the National Broadcast Commission (NBC) which is the regulator; Ministries of Finance; and Information and Culture respectively; representatives of broadcast institutions and organizations and some eminent Nigerians on the Presidential Advisory Committee.
Integrated Television Services, ITS, a sister company unbundled from NTA is a creation of the report of this body. Its mandate includes the inheritance of transmission components and facilities of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, taking into consideration governments huge investment over the years in this institution.
The decision of the ITS to ride on existing infrastructure of the NTA joint venture arrangement is thus economical and wise. They don’t have to ‘re-invent the wheel’.
That Dara has mischievously dismissed these as obsolete is therefore deliberate manipulation of facts to suit a carefully hatched plot to attract negative publicity for a project that is working and being applauded by millions of viewers across the states that are currently enjoying the services particularly in Jos, Ilorin and Oshogbo.
A more patriotic position to take on this matter would have been to commend the officials who despite being faced with the challenges of working within very tight budget struggled to achieve the rare feat of taking Nigeria to the digital world.
What Dara has not admitted in his submissions is that the Federal Government relied almost hundred percent on the competence and dedication of its own engineers in the parastatals under the Ministry of Information and Culture, and particularly the NTA to move Nigeria from analogue to digital broadcasting.
This effectively foreclosed any hope concerning unearned pecuniary benefits by vultures and their sponsors who wanted to reap where they did not sow.
It is important to expose them and the real facts behind attacks on those who handled the digitization project.
Our findings show that one of these characters:
▪ is bitter and had a long standing grouse with NTA, following his departure from the organisation.
▪ has made himself available as a tool in the hands of those who expect the project, and particularly ITS, to fail.
The digital switch over is a multi billion Naira project. The benefits are immense so are the challenges. But they are teething problems. The major challenge confronting the process now is that of provision of adequate set top boxes as well as expansion. The case of revenue streams and value added services must be approached with despatch. It is particularly apt that content providers and platform operators must know the cost of transmission on the platform.
Digital broadcasting was a win-win proposition, it has never been a ‘winner takes all’ thing.
If these “vultures” do not desist from their campaign of calumny, we may be compelled to expose their sponsors and their nefarious activities in the country.
-Mubarak, a public affairs analyst, is a member of the Progressive Solidarity Forum. Abuja.