Is’haq Modibbo-Kawu, Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, says the N2.5 billion paid to Pinnacle communications Ltd, is justifiable.
Mr Modibbo-Kawu stated this in Abuja on Thursday while reacting to a query by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, over the payment.
Pinnacle Ltd. is the second licensed signal distributor for digital switchover in Nigeria.
Mr Modibbo-Kawu said the White Paper on Digital Switchover, DSO, stipulated that NBC should provide a platform for the second signal distributor because the first signal distributor had facilities all over the country.
“The white paper says the second signal distributor is coming in with a disadvantage, so the NBC should provide a level playing field to ensure that a signal distributor carryout the process successfully.
“This is the context in which the payment was made and we did not only pay just a signal distributor.
“NBC paid N2.5 billion to pinnacle communication for facilitating digitisation in Abuja, Kaduna and other parts of the country as the work progressed.
“NBC paid the first national signal distributor, Integrated-Television-Services (ITS) N1.7 billion and as at the time the money was paid, the exchange rate of naira to a dollar was about N167.
“When we paid Pinnacle in 2017, the dollar exchange for naira was N380.
“So if you look at N2.5 billion and N1.7 billion in terms of the amount of money paid, the exchange rate had affected the payment so it was not as if we just threw money at them. All those things were measured,” he said.
He said when the Federal Government released N10 billion to NBC, it came with a directive that the money should be used for the digital switchover process and supervised by the Minister of Information and Culture.
According to him, every payment that NBC made in the context of the digital switchover got approval from the minister.
“We paid the signal distributors, Set Top Box manufacturers, content aggregators, we have partly paid the set light provider and we partly paid the people who are doing the call centre.
“To activate the box, you have to make certain calls to the centre and we have call agents who work for NBC on 24 hour basis and we pay them through the company,” he said.
Mr Modibbo-Kawu also said that NBC spent money to train its staff and some members of the National Assembly on the digital switchover as well as other stakeholders.
The D-G explained that Pinnacle got the license after an open bidding process that was broadcast on television, two years before he came to the NBC.
He said the company has contributed immensely to the success of digitisation more than any other signal distributor in the country.
“Pinnacle has been the single largest contributor because they paid a license fee of N680 million to the NBC,” he added.