Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday berated the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, for the shutdown of the SMS platform meant to encourage small donors to support the All Progressives Congress presidential campaign.
While describing the directive as a betrayal of democratic ideals, the governor asked President Goodluck Jonathan to live by his democratic ideals and honour the peace pact he signed by directing the NCC to restore the 35350 platform.
Fashola, who is the Director of the Buhari-Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Fundraising Committee, described the NCC’s action as a “disgraceful repression of freedom.”
While addressing journalists at the Lagos House, Marina, Fashola said it was unfortunate that after the launch of the platforms on Tuesday, the NCC had issued a letter to the telecoms operators “not to carry political messages” thereby shutting down the SMS platform.
Fashola, had on Tuesday unveiled five platforms in partnership with five banks for donors wishing to contribute to the fund.
The Lagos State governor said he wondered why a commercial transaction that promotes business, the economy and jobs in the country should be frustrated, arguing that if traditional media such as radio, newspapers and television could carry political messages, new and social media should be allowed to participate and benefit.
Fashola said, “It is with deep sadness that I address you all because I never expected that I will witness in Nigeria some of the very distasteful and disgraceful conduct that the Federal Government, the PDP and the President have embarked on, by way of repression of freedoms.
“I mentioned the commercial nature of the transactions we had with the businesses who were partnering with us and the benefits to the economy. I also stated very clearly that these businesses had no partisan relationship but are providing professional service.
“I said so, in order to protect their businesses because of the increasing intolerance we were witnessing from the Jonathan and the PDP Presidential campaign and some Federal Government agencies that have taken a partisan position.”
Pointing out that the NCC gave approval to the Goodluck-Sambo campaign in 2010, Fashola wondered why “a President who says he cares about young people and wants their votes would shut down their generation’s platform” adding, “Is the President himself not using the same platform? Is this not a media censorship?”
Fashola, however, expressed joy that despite the closure of the platform, the enthusiasm of Nigerians for change was obvious from the first day of the launch of the payment platforms, adding that with the five banks alone, the committee had raised the sums of N822,928.80 from bank payments while N606,000 had been raised from the internet platform before the interference.