‘Arrested NBC boss was very transparent’ | Set Top Box manufacturers back Emeka Mba

The Licensed Set Top Box Manufacturers of Nigeria (STBMAN) has reacted to the arrest of the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, Emeka Mba by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

Emeka Mba was arrested on charges of diversion of public funds of about N34 billion by the EFCC, with the involvement of the STBMAN highlighted in the alleged scam.

In a statement signed by the STBMAN, the organisation reiterated its support for the Federal Government’s war against corruption but went ahead to state that it was obliged to inform members of the public on the salient points of their involvement.

“While the Association appreciates and stands firmly with the FGN in its fight against corruption, it feels duty bound to inform the members of the public on matters that tend to cast doubts over genuine and well thought out programmes of government and other stake holders who bring such programmes into fruition.

“Similarly, the Association hereby states that it is in no way best placed to comment on the issue of N34 Billion as reported in many media outlets but feels compelled to bring out the facts as it concerns the N17 Billion (part of the alleged N34 billion) it is privy to by the simple fact that the amount (N15 Billion) is the total sum posted by the NBC as take- off guarantee for the various loans taken by the Licensed manufacturers of the STBs for the Launch of the Digital Switch Over and not N17Billion.”

The association countered the allegations that its dealings with the NBC were in any way dubious or fraudulent and explained in details for the benefit of the public its involvement in the matter.

“It will be recalled that the FGN in line with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had approved the migration from Analogue transmission to Digital with the tag “Digital Switch Over” (DSO) and earmarked November 2015 as the Launch Date with Jos, Plateau State as the Pilot Scheme for Nigeria.”

“In NBC’s bid to promote local industry and conserve foreign exchange as well as create job opportunities for our youths, it issued licenses to some 13 indigenous companies to manufacture the Set Top Boxes that will be needed for the successful implementation of the phased transition.”

“However, owing to the very short period available for the transition, i.e from the time of licensing, setting up of manufacturing plants and the Launch date, the manufacturers were allowed to import the first set that will be used for the pilot scheme and thereafter to manufacture the rest locally and to this end, they were allocated different lots to manufacture.”

“Considering the fact that the business is a novel one in this part of the world and the fact also that bureaucratic bottle-necks normally hamper the smooth processing of Applications, the various companies came together under the auspices of STBMAN to work in unison to achieve timely and better negotiation results both with the financing institutions and manufacturing companies outside the country.”

“Considering also the challenges associated with payments from government and the fact that the funds were to be sourced by way of bank Loan and the imperative of the Launch particularly at this time and for it to key into the “CHANGE MANTRA” thus emphasizing the shift from the OLD to the NEW, and in order to meet the timelines and serve as incentive for investment, members requested for an OFF-TAKE GUARANTEE from NBC as to enable for borrowing and this was granted  in the form of Guarantee thus paving the way for the securing and ware-housing of the N15 Billion long before the FGN’s pronouncement and directive on the Treasury Single Account (TSA).”

“As earlier indicated, each company submitted its Application as an entity but negotiated with the banks under the banner of the Association and even at that, it took quite some time for the Applications to be processed but so far, members have been able to achieve tangible results and some are set to deliver at designated points once the Receiving counterpart confirms its readiness.”

The association also said that the DSO project was an imperative for improvement in which Nigeria was playing catch-up to the rest of Africa and the world, and it would be unfortunate for the nation if the accelerated pace already set by Mba’s deal with STBMAN is derailed.

STBMAN reiterated its support for the war against corruption but stated categorically that in respect to the 13 Set Top boxes manufacturers and the NBC, every order of business that was carried out was transparent and for the benefit of the nation.

The association highlighted the advantages of sustaining the pace that has already been set in the commission by Mba, stating that continued working of his plan would lead to more employment for youths and general boosting for the Nigerian economy.

“We state without any doubt that the process leading to the grant of Licenses and indeed the various slots given to the various companies were done with the best interest of the nation at heart and was done in a transparent and fair manner. It is on record that critical stake-holders like the Broadcasters Organization of Nigeria (BON), Association of Cable Operators of Nigeria, Licensed manufacturers and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists were involved at one stage or the other, thus it is our strong belief that with the current state of affairs, not only will jobs be created for our teaming youths, the scarce Foreign Exchange will be conserved and local industry and content will be promoted if momentum is sustained.”

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