Barely 24 hours after the campaign Fund-Raising Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC presidential campaign unveiled its online fund raising platforms, the National Communications Commission (NCC) has ordered telecommunication service providers to stop all partisan political adverts and promotions.
However the APC is accusing the NCC of seeking to block its ability to use the platforms of SMS, Ringtones and Scratch Cards, which are totally dependent on the telecommunications service providers, to raise funds for its campaign.
NCC in a letter to all major telecommunication organizations dated 19th January 2015 signed by The Head of Legal and Regulatory Services at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye and Mrs. Marian Bayi of the Consumer Affairs Bureau warns service providers to ‘’avoid running political/advertisement promotions that will portray them as being partisan’’, and has threatened to sanction any service provider that will flout this directive.
Reacting to the development at a press conference yesterday in Lagos, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that the party takes a very strong exception to the contents of the letter sent by the NCC to the service providers as well as the timing of such directive.
“There can’t be a clearer example of abuse of office. We are extremely concerned by this brazen act of intimidation and regulatory lawlessness towards legitimate businesses providing perfectly legitimate advertisement services, especially when the advertisers have not breached any law or prevented their subscribers from opting out of such services.”
He said legitimate fund raising is the norm around the world to finance electioneering campaign, saying the party is not aware of legislation that prevents any commercial entity from advancing any political aims, or engaging in commercial businesses with political parties, apart from making party political donations – which of course the PDP Federal government so shamelessly breached when it recently collected billions of Naira from many commercial interests.”
“Telecommunications providers must, therefore, not be bullied by the NCC into infringing upon the rights of their subscribers to have unfettered access to information and services for which they paid or are paying.
Let it be crystal clear that we would not let the NCC undermine our democratic rights and freedoms by following the Egyptian model of blocking social media platforms or channels, particularly as the operators are not responsible for social media contents.”
According to Mohammed, “Not once has the telecommunications regulatory body, prevented individuals and organizations have been using these new platforms to either pass across messages or promote their products, among others, just like they have done through the traditional platforms, including radio, television and the newspapers.
“But it seems the government of the day is not comfortable with that. While the PDP-led Federal Government has been mouthing its commitment to free, fair and transparent elections, it has on the other hand been doing everything possible to prevent that. Or how can you have a free, fair and transparent election if you won’t even allow the opposition to leverage the existing national telecommunications infrastructure to raise funds for its campaign? How can you have a credible election when the government of the day routinely uses national institutions as a tool to stifle the opposition?”
The party said it is more appalled that the NCC seems splendidly oblivious of the fact that the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 does not outlaw advertisements. In fact, some of the Act’s subsidiary legislation/ guidelines do permit different advertorial media such as mail, licensee’s website, text messages, and electronic mail (where permitted by recipients),etc.
APC warned Federal Government and its parastatals to desist from approbating and reprobating at the same time as this gives the NCC away as a very partisan and biased regulatory agency.
APC called on the NCC to immediately withdraw its” ill-advised, ill-timed and ill-intentioned directive which is solely aimed at preventing them from legitimately raising funds to finance our campaign.
Meanwhile, Government college Katsina has confirmed the completion of the West African Examination Council (WASC) by former Head of State and presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari in 1961.
Accordingly, the school has released the result to the concerned authorities, thereby putting to end controversies that have ensued over the former head of state credentials.
His school records made available to our correspondent yesterday shows that he attended the school for five years.
Buhari whose school number was 134 took the Cambridge University WASC examination in 1961.
His result is as follows: English 5, Hausa 5, History 3, Geography 6, Health Science 6, English literature 7, math 9 and woodwork 9.
Buhari had earlier directed his old secondary school, Provincial Secondary School Katsina to make available school copy of his certificate.
Buhari, who was speaking to journalists at the Kano State government house Wednesday, said that he assumed that all his records were at the custody of the Nigerian army, adding that he was surprised to be told that the copies of his records were not in his personal file.
“I assumed all along that all my records were in the custody of the Nigerian army. The position I had the privilege to occupy myself. But much to my surprise we are now told that although a record of my result is not available, there are no copies of certificates in my personal file.” He said
“I formerly requested for copies of the certificates in my old school, Government College Katsina, formerly known as Provincial Secondary School Katsina, to make available the school’s copy of my result of the Cambridge West African Schools Certificate (WASC). The copies would be available to the press the moment they are available.” He said
Giving a brief history of his secondary school, Buhari said that he graduated from the Provincial Secondary School Katsina in 1961 with many prominent Nigerians such as the late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua and Justice Ummaru Abdullahi, former President of the Court of Appeal, adding that he sat for the Cambridge University/WASC examination with them and his examination number was 8200002 which he passed finally.
He labeled the allegation against him by the ruling party as sheer mischief and decided to ignore it but was prompted to speak about it because of general concern expressed by many supporters that the issue be addressed, adding that for him, the issue would not have been worthy of consideration.
“I am consented to address you because of the general concern by our supporters and well-meaning Nigerians that the issue be addressed. Otherwise, I would have left it as it is as a sheer mischief and would not have considered it an issue worth the nation’s pride.” He said.