Olusegun Odebunmi, the lawmaker who sponsored the bills for the amendment to the laws establishing the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), has announced that he has suspended the legislative process on the proposed pieces of legislation.
Odebunmi, who represents Ogo Oluwa/Surulere Federal Constituency of Oyo State in the House of Representatives, disclosed this during an interview on Tuesday.
A large number of Nigerians, especially media stakeholders, have vehemently opposed the proposed amendments to the NBC and NPC acts sponsored by the lawmaker, describing them as “draconian” and part of efforts of government to gag the media.
All major newspapers on Monday published cover page public notice titled “Information blackout”.
Reacting to the development, the sponsor said he has initiated the suspension of the bill to allow for further consultations with media stakeholders.
“Personally, I’m suspending the process for more consultation,” Odebunmi said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
“What I’m saying is that the NUJ cannot gag the activities of the national assembly by saying ‘No you must drop it’, because obviously, that is not the way.
“We have suspended the process for more consultation to happen on it. They demanded for a lot of time and I said ‘no problem, we have given you; even if you spend three, four to five weeks’. So far, more consultations from critical stakeholders, and many people have been submitting their memoranda to the national assembly even within the industry.”
Odebunmi also stated that his intention and that of the bill is not to gag the press, but to make some amendments aimed at fixing lapses in the practice of journalism.
He said: “My intention is not to gag the press, and unless all the practitioners can say all is well with the industry, to the best of my knowledge I know all is not well. And I know the national assembly has the power to look into the existing act,” he said.
“All is not well with the NPC agency. It is an agency of government, and you’re expecting something to be given back to the society, but until now nothing has been coming from the agency.”