By Emmanuel Onwubiko
Any writer worth his/her salt ought to draw wisdom, superior intellectual strength and inspiration from works of accomplished masters in the diverse fields of human endeavours both in times past and contemporary periods.

With that trend of thought, I have decided to begin my brief reflection on the activities that were undertaken by the brand new management team [a little over one year old] in the Africa's biggest publicly funded broadcasting institution-Nigerian Television Authority [NTA] spearheaded by the Acting Director General Alhaji Musa Mayaki-an accomplished accountant of the finest quality.

To one of the works of Ausbeth Nnamdi Ajagu I have decided to consult to know those virile qualities that make for what easily leads to any institution or indeed an individual to achieve competitive edge in an increasingly sophisticated and competitive global village.

In his book “Building a virile nation; the private sector perspective”, Ajagu listed the qualities that give rise to the efficient development of a competitive edge as follows; fear of God; integrity and high moral standards; adequate education and training; self discipline; fearlessness and boldness; non-procrastination; perseverance; attitude and selfless service.

Dr. Ajagu further highlighted other virtues that lead to greater competitive edge to include seeing the good in others/networking and finally hard work/diligence.

On the most salient of these virtues which to me appears to be the ability to see the good in others and to network, Dr. Ajagu stated that it simply implies that a manager of men/women and resources in a public or private institution, ought to appreciate the good in other people and to value their contributions no matter how insignificant.

My considered assessment of the performance of the Alhaji Musa Mayaki-Led management team in the Nigerian Television Authority in 2013 shows that he has indeed applied all these qualities which is why transformational progressive achievements/milestones were recorded especially in the area of improved service delivery to the nearly 60 million famed audience of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

At the inception of his historic role as Acting Director General of NTA, he hosted a retreat at the Delta State Capital for the hierarchy of NTA and when cornered by journalists he indeed gave out what has constituted the focal point of his team for the outgoing year 2013.

He responded thus; “Let me first note that we are guided by the fact that the fulcrum of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan's administration which is transformation and for us, this transformation has to be encompassing. So, when people assess government on some key areas, like power, roads, employment generation, industry, among others, they tend to forget other subsidiaries, like, for instance, NTA, which also adds up to the whole transformation agenda”.

Therefore, Alhaji Mayaki disclosed to the journalists that as a government agency, NTA under the current dispensation is poised to add its own quota and value to the president's agenda.

“Candidly, I think that everybody who works for government should be thinking along this line. Following this line of thought, since I came on board as the Ag DG, I have been studying the whole NTA system and luckily, I have been a member of staff for over 30 years and I found out that NTA, in the monopolistic times, is no longer the NTA from the middle 90s”, he stated candidly.

He offered perspectives into the above stated factual opinion thus; “During those days, there were only the state-owned TV stations; later the private owned stations were licensed to operate. As soon as that happened, we started experiencing stiff challenges”.

When he started acting as the DG, he said that he sat down and said to himself that, it is not enough to be the largest network; television is about content, programming and signals. Thus, it became necessary to reappraise the performance of NTA which should continue to be the dominant broadcasting firm not only in programming, but also in commercial generation.

Asked if his management team possess the magic wand to turn things around in 2013 and beyond, he responded in the affirmative and further remarked that with so many solutions proffered but it was also expressed considered doubts if the management and staff could implement all of them, because a lot of the recommendations bother on finance, but his consolation and those of his team members including the body of staff of NTA is to repeat the antiphon made popular by the first ever black American President Mr. Barack Obama who said 'yes we can” in unison the entire NTA management team shouted.

According to him, when people join together to say yes, they can achieve anything. NTA will never be the same, he stressed and further asserted that his team is poised to achieve much because it is not satisfied with looking for just an average result.

“Therefore, I believe we can implement 80 percent at least and that will be very outstanding and NTA will never be the same again,” he stated.

Back to the practicality of what NTA achieved in 2013, facts have emerged that NTA 24 is now separated from the network. The channel (NTA news 24) now has semi-autonomy and with time it will be autonomous especially with digitization in the coming year in which Startimes is expected to run it as a unique channel on its own. All the channels in the year 2014 will be networked meaning that with the advanced stage of preparations and facilities put in place by the management, each station will be networked on its own meaning central network to which they hitherto hooked up to from time to time is to be phased out. This emerging development will improve customer service delivery in the best spirit of President Goodluck Jonathan's transformation agenda and ensure that audiences of the services of NTA can now sit back and watch from their state-based stations which for now are up to 32 functional stations spread across all geopolitical zones.

From the new year, NTA will have 8 basic network stations located everywhere you have startimes.

Speaking about the brand new NTA news 24 which will emerge in the new year, an insider told this writer that the moment STARTIMES (a partner of the parent body in Nigeria (NTA) do cut over by mid -next year, every station will come through decoder and no longer through AREA as some of the audience do get NTA programmes at the moment.

The cheering news is that Super Sports will now have five distinct football channels to satisfy the increasing demanding taste of soccer loving customers all across Nigeria. As the 2014 World Cup approaches which will take place in far away Brazil and in which Nigeria is one among the five African teams that sailed through to participate at the mundial, NTA is set to bring the events live from the spots in Brazil.

The insider who is a professional sound engineer announced to me with excitement that with what the current management of NTA has put on ground as next year's World Cup kicks off in June 2014, customers can join the transmission at their respective unique Sports Station of Choice. Importantly, the management has plans to sustain some new Channels such as parliament and the educational programming channels.

“With what is on ground, NTA international from next year will run hourly live news program to her audience globally unlike what used to be obtained under the outgoing programming method whereby 7-730pm and news are repeated by 1am/4am because of global time differences”.

“But from January there will be unique hourly news package just as NTA international can now break news as they occur”, my competent source stated.

The profoundly acclaimed professional who prefers anonymity further informed me thus; “The news contents by NTA international will now last one hour rather than 30 minutes as currently obtains”. A senior news director also told me that NTA has become better and much more objective and daring in its news contents but will always have the best public interest good of Nigeria at the background.

understandably, in this outgoing year, the NTA management have received several commendations from leading stakeholders for the remarkable achievements and the significant milestones achieved so far in the area of rich programming just as they have urged the team to maintain the tempo so that NTA can achieve high competitive edge in 2014 and beyond.

For instance, during this 2013 year under review, when the management team led by the Acting Director General paid the President of the Senate David Mark a courtesy visit, the forward looking and courageous politician from Benue State told the NTA pointblank that the National Assembly is delighted with the introduction and running of the distinctive Channel that is devoted entirely to reporting the National Assembly and sub-national assemblies from diverse perspectives.

Acting Director General briefed him on the Parliament News Channel currently running on the NTA Startimes belt which eventually will go beyond Nigeria. NTA took a cue from other developed countries where a channel is dedicated to all parliamentary activities, and Nigeria should not be an exception because NTA has the human capacity and technical resources as the largest network to contribute to today's democracy, Alhaji Musa Mayaki had told the Senate President and the Chairman of the National Assembly Senator David Alachenu Mark.

The Senate President thanked the Acting DG about this initiative. He added that it is important for electorates who voted them into office to be aware of the day to day activities in the parliament through a dedicated channel. He said that the National Assembly has a state-of-the-art studio, that the Parliament Channel can use for the benefit of the public.

He however hoped that all committee meetings, debates would now enjoy full coverage to enable the whole world be informed about the activities of the parliament as it unfolds. He thanked NTA management team and assured them of his support.

The acting DG was accompanied by the EDE, Engr. Nda Adama; Director Multi Channels, Mr. Wole Coker; Deputy Director Startimes, Mr. Maxwell Loko and the National Assembly Chief Correspondent, Mallam Muhammad Kudu Abubakar who doubles also as the General Manager of the Parliament Channel. The Parliament channel should also have feedback mechanism whereby the views of Nigerians from all walks of life including the physically challenged are transmitted in an undiluted and transparent manner back to the legislators at both the national and sub-national legislatures.

The Nigerian people in the rural communities are hopeful that with the zeal displayed by the current management team, the various community stations would be effectively run to serve the unreached citizens.

It can safely be said that for NTA, the year 2013 has been eventful just as the year 2014 is sure to be a year of uncommon transformation like never before seen.

* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA; [email protected];