Senate Spits Fire: NTA-Startimes 11-year Deal Yields No Revenue, DG Tells Senate

NTA

The Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, Mallam Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, said on Monday that an 11-year joint venture arrangement between NTA and Startimes has not yielded any revenue for Nigeria since the deal was sealed.
The management of the Federal Government-owned television station entered into a partnership, known as NTA-Star TV Network, with a Chinese media firm, Beijing Star Group, in 2008 and it became operational in 2009.
The joint venture was described as a strategic partnership between the NTA and China’s most influential radio television enterprise, when it was consummated 11 years ago.
The NTA DG, however, told the Senate on Monday that the business deal was a huge loss to the nation.
Members of the Senate Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning, who are working on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, however expressed surprise at the development.
He said, “As a matter of fact, when I came on board in 2016, that was one of the first questions I asked. I wanted to know what accrued to the NTA from the joint venture, and I was told that the joint venture had not declared any profit.
“The management said they have been declaring losses every year.”
The Managing Director of the NTA TV Enterprises, Maxwell Loko, who was also present at the session, said he was not informed to come with documents on the joint venture.
Adeola, who was not satisfied with the responses of the NTA executives, asked them to return on Tuesday (today) with the relevant documents, especially the agreements Nigeria or NTA signed with Startimes.
He said, “For 11 years, you are not getting anything from Startimes agreement and you still continue there. Something is fishy; this is unfair to Nigeria as a nation. This committee will investigate this agreement.
“We will set up an ad hoc committee to investigate all the previous DGs. We want to know where they have kept the Nigerian money.”
He also asked them to bring the management account.
The panel also queried the NTA’s claim that the Presidential Task Force owed it N1.8bn publicity fund.
Adeola said, “This National Assembly approved N500bn for COVID-19.  NTA is a separate entity, like any others. That N1.8bn must be recovered from the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
“They cannot because NTA is owned by government and be treating you as their baby. So, raise the invoice for this N1.8bn and go to the PTF and go to consolidated revenue account.”

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