Corrupt elements alter government’s good work – Information Minister

Solomon Chung, Abuja

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, being received by the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Sunday


The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has said corrupt elements are doing everything possible to alter the good work of the present administration, as a response to the government’s determined fight against corruption.

Addressing the staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Minister said as the government fights corruption, corruption is also fighting back through unsuspecting sources.

“This is the biggest challenge facing the administration at the moment,” he said.

He however assured that the administration remains determined and
focused in its efforts to root out corruption in the country.

Responding to a question on how the government can better ensure the
flow of timely and accurate information to Nigerian Missions abroad,
Mr Mohammed said the Ministry would launch an Information application on
15th  December to provide real time information to Nigerians at home and
in the Diaspora.

He also said the Ministry is considering setting up a foreign service information system as part of plans to furnish the missions with much-needed information, especially for prospective investors and tourists.

The Minister told the Embassy Staff that apart from using the traditional means of communicating with the people, the administration has resorted to holding town hall meetings in order to better inform Nigerians of the activities of government, as well as get the necessary feedback on government’s programmes and policies.

He reiterated that the town hall meetings, which have been held in five states including Abuja so far, will be held on a regular basis from next year, in order to provide more information to Nigerians on key sectors, including Agriculture, infrastructural development and the economy.

Mr Mohammed also announced that efforts are being made to revitalize the National Orientation Agency (NOA), which he said is the closest to the grassroots, with a view to strengthen the communication programmes and policies of the Administration to Nigerians.

”We are reinventing the NOA in a more professional manner. The
challenge is to better equip the NOA staff with the latest communication facilities so that they can do their work more effectively,”
he said.

The Minister, who was in Abu Dhabi to attend the International Conference on the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas, said the Administration has acquitted itself creditably in fighting the insurgency in the North-east, tackling the incessant clashes between farmers and herders, thereby, taking concrete measures to also end the militancy in the Niger Delta.

He added that the government has already provided 200,000 of the 500,000
jobs it promised under the N-Power Volunteers Programme, while at the same time embarking on an agricultural initiative that will enable Nigeria become self sufficient in the production of rice and wheat in the shortest time possible.

On the economic recession, Lai Mohammed said “We are spending our
way out of this recession, we are investing massively in infrastructural development: roads, railways, power etc, and creating jobs in the process.”

The Charge d’Affaires, Mr. Nura Rimi, who was present with the Minister at the meeting said the Embassy is carrying out its assignment diligently in spite of the challenges
its facing, adding that it recently bagged an award for excellence from the United Arab Emirates authorities, one of only three missions in the UAE that won the award.

Issues raised by the Embassy Staff in their interaction with the Minister include the suspension of flights to Abuja by Emirates Airlines, the visa restriction to Nigerians willing to travel to the UAE, the need for Nigeria to tap from the $350 million renewable energy fund that is available in the UAE and the possibility of Nigeria partnering with the UAE Red Crescent to assist the Internally Displaced Persons in the North-east.

Among top officials of the Embassy who attended the meeting are Mr. Aliyu Hamman (Minister – Economic); Mr. Rabiu Lawal (Minister – Consular); Mr. Zakari Usman (Senior Counsellor); Mr. Adesoye Samotu (Senior Counsellor), Mr. Bukar Salihu Malgin (Finance Attache) and Mr. Mohammed Bashar Magaji (Immigration Attache).