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NTA incurs N1.8bn debt on COVID-19, 11 yrs of non-profitable venture with Startimes

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NTA incurs N1.8bn debt on COVID-19, 11 yrs of non-profitable venture with Startimes
Senate put the Director General of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed on hot seat over the joint venture the information parastatal has been running with Startimes for the past 11 years without any profit.
Consequently, the DG who was accused of making unsatisfactory submissions on operational and revenue drive of the television station over the years by the Senate’s Joint Committees on Finance and National Planning, was ordered to appear before it again today along with the Managing Director of NTA TV Enterprises, Maxwell Loko, who is supervising the  the joint venture with Startimes.
Recalled that Mohammed first  appeared before the committee last Friday but ordered to reappear Monday for allegedly making unsatisfactory submissions on financial records of the Institution as regards internally generated revenues, IGR and details of its alleged debtors.
The director general ran into trouble at yesterday’s sitting when he told the committee members that not a single dime has been realised from joint operational venture it entered into with Startimes since 2008.
“As an Executive Director in 2009 in NTA, not a single kobo was made from the joint venture with Startimes, the same situation I met in 2016 when I returned as DG.
“In fact, on assumption of office as DG, that was the first question I asked upon which records of non- profitability was presented by the NTA  subsidiary outfit running it.
“The non-profitability status of the venture remains till today,” he said.
Irked by the submission, chairman of the Committee on Finance,, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Lagos West) asked the NTA boss whether he was sure of what he said.
“Mr. DG, are you telling this committee that for solid 11 years, the joint venture agreement NTA had with Startimes has not yielded any profit despite using your facilities for over one million subscribers?
“This is completely unfair to Nigeria. Something is cooking. You must come with the MD of your subsidiary unit overseeing the contractual and operational agreement,” he said.
Another member of the committee, Senator Danladi Sankara (APC Jigawa North West), in his contribution, described the venture as fraudulent since according him, Startimes did not register with the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC.
“Startimes as far as the laws of the land is concerned, is running an illegal business in Nigeria and very unfortunate that such is being aided and abetted by NTA,” he said.
The DG came under fire again , when asked to submit details of debtors owing NTA N1.8billion with his response that the Indebtedness was purely from COVID-19 adverts which have not been paid for , despite presentations to that effect to the appropriate authorities twice.
Specifically, a member of the committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure kicked against his submission on the grounds that the National Assembly earmarked money for publicity on COVID-19 out of the N500billion appropriated as intervention fund.
“This Senate and by extension, the National Assembly provided money for publicity out of the N500billion intervention fund appropriated.
“Therefore, your submission that NTA has not been paid any money in that respect is unacceptable.  You must collect whatever the said N1.8billion from the Presidential Task Force in charge of COVID-19,” he said.
Consequently, chairman of the committee, Senator Adeola , ordered the DG to come with documents on presentations made for payment of the N1.8billion today (Tuesday).

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