DIGITAL SWITCH-OVER: Kawu’s Hands Are Clean
THE last certainly has not been heard concerning the trending media report of alleged fraud in the award of the Federal Government’s Digital Switch-Over (DSO) contract. The latest information emerging from the Nigerian Broadcastpng Commission’s (NBC) headquarters, has it that the whole fraud allegation is an attempt by the media and its sponsors, to tarnish the reputation of the Director General of NBC, Mallam Is’haq Modibbo Kawu.
Those behind the fraud allegation sources at the Abuja headquarters of the Commission said are intimidated by Kawu whose profile, which has been on a steady rise on account of his role in ensuring the smooth migration of the country from analogue television broadcasting to digital broadcasting.
The story has it that the NBC boss, at the beginning, recommended a private company, Pinnacle Communications Limited, to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to be awarded the contract of the DSO as well as the release of N2.5bn contract sum.
Though, the report also alleged that Pinnacle Communications was not qualified to handle the project, which is being spearheaded by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
Notwithstanding the fact that Pinnacle Communications was found not qualified to do the job, the firm was still won the competitive bid conducted by the then Director General of the NBC, Mr. Emeka Mba, while the said money was approved by the Presidency, and not Kawu, as the general public was made to believe through media reports.
Our source who was more like in a mission to spill it all, further revealed that The Presidency had in 2016 released N10bn to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to implement the digital switch over programme and a White Paper was issued directing that the process be specifically handled by two companies– Pinnacle Communications and ITS, an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) – as winners of the bid to handle the project.
“Monies were released to these two companies by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture on the orders of the Presidency after the contracts was carried out”, a source, who pleaded to be anonymous, said.
The source absolved Kawu and Pinnacle Communications of any wrong doing, stressing that the alleged fraud was sponsored by an aggrieved rival company that lost out of the contract.
The NBC in a swift reaction to the allegation said it was not aware of any investigation been carried by the ICPC on its Director General, Mallam Kawu.
The commission’s spokesperson, Hajia Maimuna Jimada, said the NBC “is not aware of any fraud case involving the DG, and therefore not aware of any ICPC investigation on the DG.”
Jimada said the commission had been carrying out the Digital Switch-Over scheme with utmost diligence and transparency, and would continue to do that till the project is completed across the country.
It would be recalled that Vice President, Yemi Osinbanjo, inagurated the Abuja project while that of Kaduna was done by Governor Nasiru el-Rufai.
But, fifth columnists recently accused the current NBC boss, Kawu and Pinnacle Communications of embezzling a sum of N2.5 billion meant to execute the DSO project, an allegation that has been dismissed as untrue.