Nigeria’s Increased Petrol Price Cheapest In West Africa, Angry Reactions Unnecessary – Lai Mohammed

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has defended the decision of the government to increase the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol.

He attributed the increased amount to the global price of crude oil, saying the “angry reactions” that have greeted the latest petrol price were “unnecessary and totally mischievous”.

Mohammed made the remarks on Monday at a press conference in Abuja on the recent increases in petrol price and electricity tariff.

He explained that with the price of crude creeping up, petrol price was equally bound to increase, hence the latest price of N162 per litre.

The minister, however, believes if the price of crude drops again, the price of petrol will also drop and the benefits will also be passed on to the consumers.

He stressed that despite the recent increase in the price of petrol, that of Nigeria has remained the lowest in the West and Central African sub-regions.

According to Mohammed, petrol is being sold for N211 per litre and N168 per litre in Egypt and Saudi Arabia respectively.

On the hike in electricity tariff, he described the increase as a service-based adjustment by the Distribution Companies (DISCOS).

The minister stated that due to the problems with the largely-privatised electricity industry, the Federal Government has been supporting the sector.

He said while the government has so far spent almost N1.7 trillion, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls and does not have the resources to continue, borrowing to subsidise generation and distribution which have been privatised would be grossly irresponsible.

A fuel station in Lagos sells petrol at N162 per litre.

 

Read the minister’s full remarks at the press briefing below:

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE HON MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON MONDAY, 7 SEPT. 2020 ON THE RECENT INCREASES IN PETROL AND ELECTRICITY PRICES

PROTOCOL

Gentlemen of the press, good afternoon, and thank you for honouring our invitation to this press conference, which we have called to address the recent issues surrounding the price of fuel and electricity tariff.

FUEL PRICES

  1. As you are aware, the long-drawn fuel subsidy regime ended in March 2020, when the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) announced that it had begun fuel price modulation, in accordance with prevailing market dynamics, and would respond appropriately to any further oil market development.
  2. Recall that the price of fuel then dropped from 145 to 125 Naira per litre, and then to between 121.50 and 123.50 Naira per litre in May. With the low price of crude oil then, the cost of petrol, which is a derivative of crude oil, fell, and the lower pump price was passed on to the consumers to enjoy.

With the price of crude inching up, the price of petrol locally is also bound to increase, hence the latest price of 162 Naira per litre. If perchance, the price of crude drops again, the price of petrol will also drop, and the benefits will also be passed on to the consumers.

The angry reactions that have greeted the latest prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) are therefore unnecessary and totally mischievous.

  1. Gentlemen, the truth of the matter is that subsidizing fuel is no longer feasible, especially under the prevailing economic conditions in the country.

The government can no longer afford fuel subsidy, as revenues and foreign exchange earnings have fallen by almost 60%, due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector. Yet, the government has had to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects.

Even though we have acted to mitigate the effect of the economic slowdown by adopting an Economic Sustainability Plan, we have also had to take some difficult decisions to stop unsustainable practices that were weighing the economy down.

  1. One of such difficult decisions, which we took at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in March – when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown – was the deregulation of the prices of PMS.

As I said earlier, the benefit of lower prices at that time was passed to consumers. Everyone welcomed the lower fuel price then. Again, the effect of deregulation is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices.

This means quite regrettably that as oil prices recover, there will be some increases in PMS prices. This is what has happened now.

  1. Government can no longer afford to subsidize petrol prices, because of its many negative consequences. These include a return to the costly subsidy regime. With 60% less revenues today, we cannot afford the cost. The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues – which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this Administration.

The days in which Nigerians queue for hours and days just to buy petrol, often at very high prices, are gone for good. Of course, there is also no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, because we just cannot afford it.

  1. Gentlemen, the cost of fuel subsidy is too high and unsustainable. From 2006 to 2019, fuel subsidy gulped 10.413 Trillion Naira. That is an average of 743.8 billion Naira per annum.

According to figures provided by the NNPC, the breakdown of the 14-year subsidy is as follows:

– In 2006       Subsidy was 257bn

– In 2007       Subsidy was 272bn

– In 2008       Subsidy was 631bn

– In 2009       469bn

– In 2010       667bn

– In 2011       2.105tn

– In 2012      1.355tn

– In 2013      1.316tn

– In 2014      1.217tn

– In 2015       654bn

– In 2016       Figure Not Available

– In 2017      Subsidy was 144.3bn

– In 2018      730.86bn

– And in 2019   Subsidy was 595bn

  1. The Federal Government is not unmindful of the pains associated with higher fuel prices at this time. That is why we will continue to seek ways to cushion the pains, especially for the most vulnerable Nigerians.

The government is providing cheaper and more efficient fuel in form of autogas. Also, Government, through the PPPRA, will ensure that marketers do not exploit citizens through arbitrarily hike in pump prices.

And that is why the PPPRA announced the range of prices that must not be exceeded by marketers.

9   In spite of the recent increase in the price of fuel to 162 Naira per litre, petrol prices in Nigeria remain the lowest in the West/Central African sub-regions.

Below is a comparative analysis of petrol prices in the sub-regions (Naira equivalent per litre);

– Nigeria              – 162 Naira per litre

–  Ghana               –  332 Naira per litre

–  Benin                 – 359 Naira per litre

–  Togo                   – 300 Naira per litre

–  Niger                   – 346 Naira per litre

–  Chad                   – 366 Naira per litre

–  Cameroon           – 449 Naira per litre

–  Burkina Faso      –  433 Naira per Litre

–  Mali                     – 476 Naira per litre

– Liberia                 – 257 Naira per litre

– Sierra Leone        – 281 Naira per litre

– Guinea                 – 363 Naira per litre

– Senegal               – 549 Naira per litre

  1. Outside the sub-region, petrol sells for 211 Naira per litre in Egypt and 168 Naira per litre in Saudi Arabia.

You can now see that even with the removal of subsidy, fuel price in Nigeria remains among the cheapest in Africa.

ELECTRICITY TARIFF

  1. Another issue we want to address here today is the recent service-based electricity tariff adjustment by the Distribution Companies or DISCOS.

The truth of the matter is that due to the problems with the largely-privatised electricity industry, the government has been supporting the industry.

To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost 1.7 trillion Naira, especially by way of supplementing tariffs shortfalls. The government does not have the resources to continue along this path.

To borrow just to subsidise generation and distribution, which are both privatized, will be grossly irresponsible.

  1. But in order to protect the large majority of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay cost-reflective tariffs from increases, the industry regulator, NERC, has approved that tariff adjustments had to be made but only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service.

Under this new arrangement, only customers with guaranteed minimum of 12 hours of electricity can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply will experience no increase.

This is the largest group of customers.

  1. Government has also noted the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering programme is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers, and creating thousands of jobs in the process.

NERC will also strictly enforce the capping regulation to ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood. In other words, there will be no more estimated billings.

  1. The government is also taking steps to connect those Nigerians who are not even connected to electricity at all. As you are aware, under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to 5 million Nigerian households in the next 12 months.

This alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system.

  1. Gentlemen, please note that despite the recent service-based tariff review, the cost of electricity in Nigeria is still cheaper or compares favourably with that of many countries in Africa.

COST IN NAIRA PER KWH IN SOME AFRICAN COUNTRIES.

– Nigeria            49.75

– Senegal          71.17

– Guinea            41.36

– Sierra Leone   106.02

– Liberia              206.01

– Niger                59.28

– Mali                  88.23

– Burkina Faso    85.09

– Togo                  79.88

CONCLUSION

  1. Gentlemen, the timing of these two necessary adjustments, in the petroleum and power sectors, has raised some concerns among Nigerians. This is a mere coincidence.

First, the deregulation of PMS prices was announced on 18 March 2020, and the price modulation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.

  1. Also, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold so that further studies and proper arrangements can be made.

Like Mr President said today, at the opening of the Ministerial Retreat, this government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation. We certainly will not inflict hardship on our people.

But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans, brighter and more prosperous days will come soon.

  1. The opportunistic opposition and their allies are playing dirty politics with the issue of petrol pricing and electricity tariff.

Please note that these naysayers did not complain when the price adjustment led to lower petrol prices on at least two occasions since March.

Nigerians must therefore renounce those who have latched onto the issue of petrol pricing and electricity tariff review to throw the country into chaos.

19. I thank you all for your kind attention

Nigeria Will No Longer Tolerate Harassment Of Citizens In Ghana – FG

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

 

The Federal Government on Friday reacted to the harassment of Nigerians residing and doing businesses in Ghana.

In a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the Federal Government said it is deeply concerned by the incessant harassment and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities and will no longer tolerate it.

As part of measures to contain the situation, the government is urgently considering a number of options, Mohammed said.

READ ALSO: ‘I Disappointed Myself’: Fani-Kayode Apologises For Harassing Journalist In Calabar

The Minister revealed that the government “has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities.”

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

PRESS RELEASE

Nigeria Will No Longer Tolerate Harassment of Its Citizens in Ghana – FG

The Nigerian Government is deeply concerned by the incessant harassment of its citizens in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities and will no longer tolerate such.

In this regard, the Federal Government is urgently considering a number of options aimed at ameliorating the situation.

The Federal Government has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities. These include:

– Seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian Government has used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years. This action is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

– Demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, another serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

– Aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana. Between Jan. 2018 and Feb. 2019, 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana.

– Closure of shops belonging to Nigerians. Over 300 Nigerians shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018; over 600 Nigerian shops were locked in 2019 and, currently, over 250 Nigerians shops have been locked.

– Residency Permit requirements, for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees, far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service. These include the compulsory Non-citizen ID card (US$120, and US$60 for yearly renewal); Medical examinations, including for Covid-19 which is newly-introduced (about US$120), and payment for residency permit (US$400 compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria)

– Outrageous stipulations in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act. When the Act was initially promulgated in 1994, a foreigner is required to invest at least US$300,000 by way of equity capital and also employ 10 Ghanaians. This Act has now been amended twice, with the 2018 GIPC Act raising the minimum capital base for foreign-owned businesses to US$1m. Though targeted at foreigners, it seems GIPC’s definition of foreigners is Nigerians. The GIPC Act also negates the ECOWAS Protocol.

– Media war against Nigerians in Ghana. The negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude towards Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general. The immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops.

– Harsh and openly biased judicial trial and pronouncement of indiscriminately long jail terms for convicted Nigerians. There are currently over 200 Nigerians in the Nsawam Maximum prison in Ghana alone.

The Federal Government would like to put on record the fact that even though over 1 million Ghanaians are resident in Nigeria, they are not being subjected to the kind of hostility being meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.

Also, even though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government property at No. 10, Barnes Road in Accra is the non-renewal of lease after expiration, the Ghanaian authorities did not give Nigeria the right of first refusal or the notice to renew the lease.

By contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties have not been seized.

Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana. But indications, especially in recent times, are that Nigeria’s stance is now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule.

This will no longer be tolerated under any guise.

In the meantime, the Federal Government wishes to appeal to its citizens resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self-help, despite their ordeal.

 

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Honourable Minister of Information and Culture

Abuja

28 Aug. 2020

 

Nothing Bad In Borrowing For Infrastructure – Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

 

Minister of Information and Culture on Saturday said there is nothing bad in borrowing for infrastructure.

Mohammed made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

“We didn’t borrow money for services,” he said. “We didn’t borrow money for overhead expenditure. We borrowed money for capital projects – rail, road, bridges, power, general infrastructure.

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“There is nothing bad in borrowing, provided that borrowing is invested in infrastructure, especially when it will create jobs, create an enabling environment for the economy.”

The Minister added that he was impressed with the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.

“I am very excited,” he said. “When I got into the train this morning, it was as clean and modern as any coach anywhere in the world.

“I was also quite impressed with the passion of the Honourable Minister (of Transportation). You can see that every point in time, he is pushing the contractors, saying ‘look, I can’t wait till October, I will come back in four weeks’ time,’ because we want to be able to deliver this kind of infrastructure to Nigerians.”

Insecurity: We Need Weapons And Platforms To Fight Terrorists – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says the nation needs more weapons and platforms to win the insurgency war.

He disclosed this in Abuja, the nation’s capital during a New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum on Thursday.

“To fight terrorists we need platforms and weapons,” he said.

Mohammed also asked the international community to support the Federal Government to tackle the numerous security challenges facing the country.

While noting that foreign countries can do better in assisting Nigeria, the Minister pleaded with western powers not to deny the current administration support due to what he describes as unsubstantiated arguments.

“I want to use this opportunity to say that the international community can help us better than they are doing right now.

“When the international community is weighed by unsubstantiated arguments to deny the country of vital platforms and weapons to fight insecurity, you cannot turn round to accuse the country of not fighting terrorism,” he said.

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The Minister stood his ground by claiming that “certain world powers have refused to even sell to us certain vital weapons.”

He regretted that the Federal Government is yet to receive some weapons despite paying for them for more than two years.

According to the Minister, “they have not released to us and they even refused to give us spare parts.”

Although he did not name any country, the minister, however, appealed to some advanced nations saying, “They should please help Nigeria to provide us with these sensitive platforms so that we can fight insecurity more effectively.”

“They should not forget that we are fighting a non-conventional war and at the same time, these people have contacts everywhere,” he said.

Mohammed said besides kinetic deployment, the government is equally using a non-kinetic approach to tackle insecurity like the economic and social intervention programmes meant to empower and engage the youths.

NBC Board Disagrees With Lai Mohammed, Rejects Amended NBC Code (Full Statement)

NBC Board Chairman, Ikra Bilbis, addressing a news conference in Abuja on August 13, 2020.

 

The Board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has kicked against the amendments to the sixth edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.

The Chairman of the Board, Ikra Bilbis, stated the position of the board on Thursday while addressing a news conference in Abuja.

“As a board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laureate, activists, legal practitioners, broadcasters, investors, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), content creators, copyright experts, and professional organisations.

“Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment,” said Bilbis who is a former Minister of State for Information.

He explained that the management of the commission did not undertake a proper consultation before making the amendments to the code.

READ ALSOFG Launches Amended Broadcasting Code, Says Hate Speech Fine Now N5m

The former minister decried that the amendments to the code were capable of destroying investments in the nation’s broadcast sector.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, briefs reporters at the unveiling of the reviewed 6th Broadcasting Code in Lagos on August 4, 2020.

 

He stressed that the board was not in support of the reviewed code unveiled by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday last week.

Bilbis noted that some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had made observations to the minister at a meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during, and after the elections.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had also called for the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert a reoccurrence.

The NBC board chairman, however, stressed that the noble observation of the President was misunderstood by the minister.

“The board of the NBC wishes to make it quite clear that as long as it is in place, the only NB Code that we recognise and which we shall work within the setting of operating policies and standards for the NBC is the 6th edition of the NB Code which was launched in 2019 in Kano.

”Another purported review has no board endorsement,” he stated.

 

Read the full text of Bilbis’ remarks at the briefing below:

THE POSITION OF THE BOARD OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (NBC) ON THE PURPORTED AMENDMENT TO THE 6TH EDITION OF THE NIGERIA BROADCASTING CODE (NB CODE).

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, I welcome you all to this important press briefing on a very touchy issue related to broadcasting in Nigeria.

You may all be aware of the recent negative developments concerning the purported amendment of the NB Code. The wellbeing of the broadcast media has direct relevance to the stability of our democracy. I, therefore, have the pleasure of presenting to you the position of the NBC Board on the issues.

The National Broadcasting Commission is established by law and section 2(h) of the NBC Act empowers the Commission to establish and disseminate a Nigeria Broadcasting Code (NB Code) which sets standards for the quality and content of broadcast materials.

Code review is undertaken every four years and involves the staff of the NBC, Former DG’s, retired Directors of the Commission and all other relevant stakeholders in broadcasting. These include Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Independent Broadcast Association of Nigeria (IBAN), Private Media outfits, Broadcasters, Notable media Intellectuals, Communication experts, Digiteam and the Academia.

The current edition (6th Edition) was presented to the public in 2019 at an elaborate ceremony in Kano which attracted a broad section of various stakeholders.

Following the 2019 national elections, some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) made observations to the Honourable Minister of Information at a FEC meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during and after the elections and the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert such future occurrence.

This noble observation of Mr President was unfortunately misunderstood by the Hon. Minister of Information. Instead of studying and following the Law, relevant rules and regulations, and direct the appropriate authorities as stipulated by the Law to act on, he erroneously embarked on the review alone.

From the history, traditions and the convention of the NBC, no Honourable Minister of Information has ever interfered in any NB Code review. After the 2019 presentation of the 6th code (which is the present one), the Hon. Minister has acted alone with just a handful of his loyalists who have written a new NB Code that has created an uproar in the industry, threatening to destroy investments and lead to job losses.

The Honourable Minister has constantly dropped the name of President Muhammadu Buhari as having approved his own version of the code review. The NB Code is a regulatory framework put together jointly by stakeholders to guide their operations in the industry. It is therefore not a unilateral government instrument and is already covered by Law hence, not requiring any further Presidential approval. This might be the reason why till date the Hon. Minister cannot show us a copy of the Presidential approval.

President Buhari is a stickler for due process and he always insists on organisations doing the right thing. The Honourable Minister’s version of the revised NB Code does not meet any known criteria of due process and inclusiveness of stakeholders.

The Director overseeing the office of the DG of the NBC has equally made insinuations that the Board endorsed the amendments culminating in its ‘public presentation’ on 26th March 2020 at the L’eola Hotel in Lagos. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The “public presentation” was actually attended by serving directors in the NBC, one former DG of the NBC, a member representing the Ministry of Information and only four (4) selected stakeholders.

When compared with over sixty (60) stakeholders that attended the 2019 presentation in Kano, there is a wide gap in industry representation. We have the list of the four hand-picked stakeholders at the Lagos “presentation”. The Board of the NBC was neither informed nor represented.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may all recall that by 26th march 2020, (the day of the “Public Presentation” in Lagos), the Federal Government had already announced a COVID-19 lockdown of Lagos, Ogun states and the FCT. It was therefore not a sincere effort to present such an important ‘review document’ which affects people’s investments and livelihoods under such situation.

The attendant public outcry over the purported review of some sensitive sections of the NB Code compelled the Board of the NBC to institute a process through which stakeholders could express their opinions and harmonise their feelings with what the Honourable Minister had unilaterally created.

The Board convened a meeting which included the Director overseeing the office of the DG in attendance. The unanimous decision was to issue a press release inviting inputs from various stakeholders. It became clear to the Board that even though the Director overseeing the DG’s office subscribed to the unanimous decision of the Board, he was inclined to sabotaging the press release for obvious reasons.

The Board, on its own, chose to be proactive by taking Five (5) National Newspaper announcements seeking inputs from relevant stakeholders in furtherance of the principle of equity, fairness and creating a level playing ground for all stakeholders.

Most surprising was the rejoinder issued by the Director overseeing the office of the DG stating that the notice published by the Board seeking stakeholders input does not have the ‘official endorsement of the Commission’. Sections 5(4), 5(2) 1(d), (g) and (h) and sections 3 of the NBC Act state categorically the powers and composition of the Commission and under whose purview the management of Commission falls.

There are very serious and disturbing amendments which have been unilaterally carried out by the Hon. Minister. This has attracted very critical comments with threats of litigation from concerned organisations and individuals.

As a Board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laurette, Activists, Legal Practitioners, Broadcasters, Investors, BON, Content Creators, Copyright experts and professional organisations. Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment.

As a Board that supervises the affairs of the NBC, it is important that we state that we cannot fold our arms and watch the activities of the Honourable Minister which is directed at destroying the modest gains the Broadcast Industry has achieved since the setting up of the Commission and the deregulation of Broadcasting in Nigeria.

While not disputing the fact that there are many challenges in the sector, the quest to find solutions cannot be totally assumed by one man. Approaches to solutions must be through wide consultations, discussions, persuasion and concession. Dictatorship tends to ruin businesses and prompt divestment. The Hon. Minister seems to have taken the option of working from an answer to the question instead of vice versa. We are in an era of democracy.

The NBC was set up by law and there is an Act that guides its operations. The Honourable Minister, therefore, cannot usurp the powers of the Board as clearly stated in the Act. Any such action by the Honourable Minister is illegal.

The Board of the NBC wishes to make it quite clear that as long as it is in place, the only NB Code that we recognise and which we shall work within the setting of operating policies and standards for the NBC is the 6th edition of the NB Code which was launched in 2019 in Kano. Any other purported review has no Board endorsement and therefore cannot be utilised in regulating broadcasting in Nigeria.

The danger of allowing the unilateral amendment of the NB Code to stand is that investors in the industry will loose confidence in the stability the broadcast ecosystem has enjoyed till date before the advent of the current Minister of Information.

Our President and his team have worked so hard to galvanise local and foreign investment in Nigeria. Allowing obnoxious policies to take root in our Investment Culture will spell doom for creativity, enterprise, diversity and the general development of broadcasting in Nigeria.

I leave you with the words of the famous American President Abraham Lincoln who said:

‘’You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.

You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, which they could and should do for themselves’’.

The very controversial portions of the purported amended code certainly aim at destroying hard work and enterprise. It aims at taking people’s freedom and intellectual property. It aims at depriving hard-working entrepreneurs to empower new entrants who have not cut their teeth and it aims at stifling investment. That is the main reason why stakeholder inputs are been avoided.

I shall take a few questions and allow some of my colleagues and Industry experts to handle details in some areas.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Thank you.

Ikra Aliyu Bilbis

Chairman, NBC Board

13/08/2020

FG Launches Amended Broadcasting Code, Says Hate Speech Fine Now N5m

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, briefs reporters at the unveiling of the reviewed 6th Broadcasting Code in Lagos on August 4, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has launched the reviewed sixth Broadcasting Code of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who unveiled the document on Tuesday at an event in Lagos revealed that the government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

He explained that the code was reviewed in line with the directive of the President for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the NBC in the wake of the 2019 general elections.

Mohammed noted that President Buhari had also ordered the probe of the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the polls.

He stated that following the inquiry, the President approved many recommendations aimed at repositioning the NBC to better perform its regulatory role.

The minister highlighted that notable among the recommendations was the need to amend the provisions in the Broadcasting Code and Act.

He, however, decried that reactions to the last amendment were concerns who thought their business interest was superior to that of the nation.

Mohammed also raised concerns that such persons have resorted to blackmail and using what he called hack writers.

He stated that the government’s intention was the good of the country and stressed the need to catalyse the growth of the local industry and create jobs for creative Nigerian youths.

A file photo of a camera.

 

According to the minister, opportunities must be created with a belief that effective regulatory interventions are guaranteed ways of attaining such.

He said the government would not waver and asked those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code to meet with the regulator and present their views.

Read the full speech of the minister below:

REMARKS BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE UNVEILING OF THE REVIEWED BROADCASTING CODE IN LAGOS ON TUESDAY AUG. 4TH 2020

PROTOCOL

Let me formally welcome all of us to this unveiling of the new amendment to the 6th Edition of the Broadcasting Code.

This event couldn’t have come at a more expedient time after the various stakeholders in the industry have ventilated their views on this all-important document.

This is an amendment to an existing 6th edition of the Code, which was launched in Kano in July 2019.

Before the launch of the Code in Kano, there were wide stakeholder meetings and discussions on virtually all the provisions of the 5th edition, which was now reviewed as the 6th edition.

The amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive, in the wake of the 2019 general elections, for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the elections.

Following the inquiry, Mr President approved many recommendations that will reposition the NBC to perform its regulatory role better. Key among the recommendations is the need to amend the provisions in the Code and Act.

The amendments are mostly in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising, and anti-competitive behaviour.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are many desirable provisions in the new Broadcasting Code:

– The provisions on Exclusivity and Monopoly: This Antitrust provision will boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves.

It will encourage Open Access to premium content. I must explain that this provision is not new to Nigeria Broadcasting. Exclusivity was disallowed at a certain time in the history of our broadcasting.

I recall Multichoice sub-licensing EPL matches to other local operators in Nigeria. I recall HITV engaging several local operators on sub-licensing the EPL when they got the rights.

– Sub-licensing and Rights sharing creates opportunities for local operators to also gain traction and raise revenue for their services.

– The law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts will definitely promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content.

– The law on registration of Web Broadcasting grants the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm us as a nation. Such harms could be in the area of security, protection for minors, protection of human dignity, economic fraud, privacy etc.

– The provisions on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies: This provision obviously mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at times of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment.

– The provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5 million Naira.

Permit me to say that section 2h of the NBC Act specifically empowers the Commission to establish and disseminate a National Broadcasting Code and set standards with regard to the content and quality of materials for broadcast.

From the above, it is clear that it is a regulatory function to establish the Code. It is democratic when the regulator engages stakeholders to get their views.

This could be done in several ways, including questionnaires, conferences, face-to-face discussions, and focused group discussions.

Once the regulator has factored all the views, he takes a decision to codify provisions that best address the needs of the country. This is what NBC has done in this case.

What I have observed in the reactions to the last amendment are interests who believe that their singular business interest is superior to the national interest. Therefore, they have resorted to all kinds of blackmail, using hack writers.

Ladies and gentlemen, we remain unperturbed, because we are acting in the national interest. The Broadcasting Code is not a static document. As we often say, broadcasting is dynamic. Therefore, even the 6th Edition of the Code shall be reviewed at the appropriate time.

But, as it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria.

Our intention remains the good of the country. We need to catalyse the growth of the local industry. We need to create jobs for our teeming creative youths.

The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of attaining this. That’s why we will not waver.

For those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code, we expect you to meet with the regulator and present your views.

As I said, there are opportunities for constant review of the Code, but please note that this latest amendment is signed, sealed and delivered, and we are committed to making it work for the good of the country.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

FG Recovers N800bn Looted Funds, Convicts 1,400 – Lai Mohammed

 

The Federal Government says it has recovered looted funds in excess of N800 billion with over 1,400 convictions secured.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this on Tuesday at a press conference in the nation’s capital, Abuja.

He said, “As I said earlier, this administration’s fight against corruption is as strong as ever, and we have the records to back up this claim.

“This administration has recorded over 1,400 convictions, including high profile ones, and recovered funds in excess of N800 billion, not to talk of forfeiture of ill-gotten properties. This is no mean feat.”

Deterring Corruption Acts

According to the minister, Nigerians have recently been inundated with allegations of monumental corruption in a number of government agencies.

 

He listed some of the agencies to include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mohammed faulted those he described as ‘naysayers’ for misinterpreting the recent developments as a sign that the corruption fight of the Muhammadu Buhari administration was waning.

He, however, insisted that the fight against corruption which he said was a cardinal programme of the government was alive and well.

The minister said, “Remember, gentlemen, that the fight against corruption is not about loot recovery or convictions alone. We are also putting in place enduring institutional reforms that will deter acts of corruption.

“Here we are talking about the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Whistleblower Policy, the expansion of the coverage of the Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System, as well as the Government Integrated Management Information System and the Open Government Partnership and Transparency Portal on Financial Transactions, among others.”

He, therefore, asked those criticising the government’s anti-corruption fight to stop engaging in wishful thinking and focus on the full ramifications of the fight.

How National Arts Theatre Rehabilitation Will Generate About 10,000 Jobs – FG

This picture taken on July 12, 2020, shows the exterior of the National Arts Theatre in the Iganmu area of Lagos State, south-west Nigeria.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has explained how the planned restoration and upgrade of the National Arts Theatre will generate about 10,000 jobs during and after the restoration.

He gave the explanation on Sunday in Lagos during the formal handover of the edifice and the adjoining 134-hectare fallow land to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee.

”The good news is that this project will not lead to a single job loss. Instead, it will create more,” the minister was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi.

He added, “Some 6,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase while the completed project could generate up to an additional 600 permanent and 2000 to 3000 call-on/call-off jobs. This is as good as it gets.”

Mohammed faulted the claims of a plot by the government to sell of the facility, saying there was no plan of such.

He clarified that rather, the government has decided to bring life back to the edifice at a cost of N25 billion under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) tagged the Lagos Creative and Entertainment Centre Project.

 

A National Heritage

According to the minister, the project will be executed in two phases – with the first being the restoration and upgrade of the National Arts Theatre to its glory days at a cost of N7 billion and the second which entails the development of the adjoining fallow land at a cost of N18 billion.

He said, “This iconic National Theatre remains a national heritage and will not be ceded to any person or group, as some have chosen to frame what we are doing here today.

“What we are here to do is to hand over the National Theatre for restoration and upgrade and the fallow land within the premises to the Central Bank and the Bankers’ Committee for development.”

”The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture holds the keys to the National Theatre on behalf of all Nigerians,” Mohammed added.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and his Youths and Sports counterpart, Sunday Dare; CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele; and Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, with others at the handing over ceremony of the National Arts Theatre in the Iganmu area of Lagos State, south-west Nigeria.

 

He described the handover of the facility as a ‘historic day in the annals of the Creative Industry in Nigeria’, saying the project was a win-win for all involved.

The minister stated, “For over 40 years, no major renovation work has been done on the National Theatre, while the adjoining land has been lying fallow. Many attempts to restore the National Theatre have failed and the government has no money to restore the complex.

“As you know, this is the hub of the Creative Industry in Nigeria. The National Theatre was established to encourage the advancement of the performing arts throughout the country; to create opportunities for performing artists of the country, as well as to aid the promotion of social development and the improvement of the quality of life. In its present state, it is not living to its billing.”

A TV is hung on the wall at the National Arts Theatre in the Iganmu area of Lagos State, south-west Nigeria.

 

Recalling the glory days of the facility, the minister said the edifice once hosted all Nigerian State Government functions and musical extravaganzas such as the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Roy Ayers, Skyy, Shalamar, Whispers, Third world, and Dynasty.

He added that it also hosted stage events like Wole Soyinka’s adaptation of D.O Fagunwa’s Langbodo and even Stevie Wonder, who he said received one of his numerous Grammy Awards at the National Theatre.

The event was attended by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare; and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

Others present included the Chairman of the Committee of Banks’ CEOs, Herbert Wigwe, and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Gekpe.

The project is expected to be completed in 18 months.

Highlights of the first phase, according to the statement, include the upgrade of the theatres – the main halls and cinema halls, conference and banquet halls, press hall and the bar; installation of new seats, upgrade of the sanitary facilities, installation of lifts, acoustics and specialist lightings; as well as replacement of the air conditioning, lighting and plumbing fittings.

The second phase would also involve the development of purpose-built clusters to provide world class facilities for Nigeria’s Creative Industry, with the clusters having four hubs – fashion, music, film and IT hubs.

FG Announces 60 Per Cent Debt Relief For Broadcast Stations

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed

 

The Federal Government has rolled out a list of a financial sustainability plan for the broadcast industry to cushion the effect of COVID-19.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed said the measures became necessary owing to the fact that the broadcast industry is hugely affected by falling revenues following dwindling adverts and sponsored programmes.

Part of the measures includes 60 per cent debt forgiveness for all debtor broadcast stations.

The debtor stations are expected to pay 40 per cent of their existing debt within three months and failure to do so will amount to forfeiture of the debt forgiveness.

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Other measures include 30 per cent discount on existing broadcast license effective from July 10 while the debt forgiveness and discount shall not apply to pay TV service operators in the country

Mohammed noted that the debt forgiveness takes effect from July 10 to October 6, 2020.

Lai Mohammed Says His Ministry Will Create Over Two Million Jobs In Three Years

 

Mr Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, says his ministry will create more than two million additional jobs within the next three years.

The minister stated this while addressing newsmen after the sixth virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, on Wednesday.

He said the ministry plans to achieve this in line with the Buhari administration’s efforts to move 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

READ ALSO: For The Avoidance Of Doubts, Schools Have Not Resumed – PTF

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.

According to Mr Mohammed, the ministry will achieve this goal through the implementation of deliverable number seven, which mandates it to collaborate with the private sector to create jobs for the youth.

He states that the number one job creator under the Ministry of Information and Culture is the “Digital Switch Over (DSO) in broadcasting, which is set to create one million jobs in the next three years through the manufacturing of set-top-boxes (decoders) and TV sets, TV and Film production, as well as TV and Online advertising and Data, among others.”

The minister argues that the Cultural Industrial Centres which are scattered all over the country have the capacity to create 500,000 jobs within the next three years, adding that the nation could have some 100,000 jobs from the restoration of museums, especially in Lagos, Plateau and Kwara.

IBAN Asks NBC To Suspend New Broadcasting Code

Ekiti Broadcasting Service To Resume Operations After NBC Shutdown
File: The NBC is Nigeria’s broadcast regulator

 

The Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) has asked the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to suspend the implementation of the amended 6th broadcasting code.

IBAN’s Secretary, Mr Guy Murray-Bruce said this in a statement on Thursday where he explained that the amendment should be subjected to a new round of wide stakeholder consultation to avoid a legal crisis.

“We at The Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (IBAN) wish to make a few observations which will touch on issues of stakeholder consultations, the committee’s terms of reference vis a vis its outcome and the practicality of the amendments as enunciated,” he said in the statement.

READ ALSO: PDP Rejects Fuel Price Hike, Says APC ‘Lacks Human Sympathy’

He explained that the committee in charge of the amendment did not circulate a draft of its work to stakeholder groups before its ratification.

Mr Murray-Bruce explained that IBAN wish to make a few observations which includes but not limited to the need for IBAN to have a seat on the committee.

The group also has reservations as to the practicality of implementing the amendments in their present form and wants the NBC to hold off on the implementation of the amendments at this time.

“We have observed what we believe could be areas of possible conflict with other government agencies due to overlapping mandates,” the statement added.

“We most humbly submit that the NBC hold off on the implementation of the amendments at this time.”

The NBC is Nigeria’s broadcast regulator and is made up of a board of commissioners appointed by the country’s president. Also, the Director General of the commission is a member of the board.

VIDEO: Watch the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, say that his ministry will create two million jobs in three years below:

Stage Set For Implementing The Greatest Agric Revolution In Nigerian History – Lai Mohammed

A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.
A file photo of Information Minister, Lai Mohammed.

 

The Minister Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says that the stage is set for the greatest agricultural revolution in Nigerian history.

Alhaji Mohammed disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday.

Mr Mohammed said the revolution would be brought to fruition through a programme called ” The Green Imperative”.

According to the minister the initiative is a Nigeria-Brazil Bilateral Agriculture Development Programme, one which dates back to the 6th of June 2016.

He said that amongst other things, the initiative will reactivate six motor assembly plants in the six-geopolitical zones of the country for assembling tractors and other implements.

Adding that the programme will also import the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts of about 5,000 tractors and numerous implements (for local assembly) annually for a period of 10 years.

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Below is the full speech as rendered by the minister in Abuja.

Good afternoon gentlemen, and thank you for honouring our invitation
once again. While briefing you last Friday on the 1st anniversary,
second term of the Buhari Administration, I hinted at the agricultural
revolution that the Administration is about to embark upon, and I said
that the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and I will be providing details.
Well, we are here to do just that today.

2. The Buhari Administration is set to revolutionize agriculture in
Nigeria through a programme called ‘THE GREEN IMPERATIVE, a
Nigeria-Brazil Bilateral Agriculture Development Programme. It is the
outcome of Nigeria’s decision, dating back to 6 June 2016, to enrol in
Brazil’s Government-to-Government More Food International Programme
(MFIP). Following that decision, and between June 2016 and December
2019, several high level Ministerial and technical visits and
exchanges have occurred between the two countries. During one of such
visits, the Bilateral Protocol of Intention with the Government of
Brazil was signed in March 2017.

3. Gentlemen, His Excellency the Vice President of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria launched THE GREEN IMPERATIVE programme officially
on 17 January 2019 in the presence of the representatives of the
Federative Republic of Brazil, Deutsche Bank as well as Brazilian and
Nigerian private sector. The Programme, worth US$1.2 billion, is to be
implemented over a period of 5-10 years with funding from the
Development Bank of Brazil (BNDES) and Deutsche Bank; with insurance
provided by Brazilian Guarantees and Fund Managements Agency (ABGF)
and the Islamic Corporation for Insurance of Export Credit (ICIEC) of
the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), and coordinated by Getúlio Vargas
Foundation (FGV).

4. Now, how will this programme revolutionize agriculture in
Nigeria, you may ask. The GREEN IMPERATIVE programme will lead to the
following:

– Reactivation of six motor assembly plants in the
six-geopolitical zones of the country for assemblying tractors and other implements. The programme will import the
Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts of about 5,000 tractors and
numerous implements (for local assembly) annually for a period of 10
years.
– Establishment of 142 agro processing service centres for value
addition, with one centre in each Senatorial District.
– Establishment of 632 mechanization service centres to support
primary production in the 774 Local Government Areas and the Federal
Capital Territory. This will create 774 service centers nationwide to
mechanize our farming methods and process or add value to farm produce
locally, leading to efficiency and eliminating post-harvest losses,
thereby cutting down cost of food all year round
– Private sector operators will operate and manage all the service
centres and the assembly plants.
– The programme will create about 5 million jobs and inject over
US$10 billion into the economy within 10 years.
– It will create sustainable supply chain of agricultural raw
materials for our large manufacturing companies to source locally,
thereby saving billions of US Dollars in food-related forex
– It will train about 100,000 extension workers within 3 years.
– It will impact over 35 million persons nutritionally and economically,
– It will revitalize our Research and Extension service delivery
through a 5-year technology-package transfer component
– The programme;s benefits also include the transfer of technology
from Brazil’s manufacturers and institutions to Nigeria

5. Gentlemen, let me now give you some highlights in the evolution
of the GREEN IMPERATIVE programme:

– The programme design was jointly done by Nigeria and Brazil. The
Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development set up a
High-Level Inter-Ministerial Committee for the bilateral programme
design.
– In the course of the programme design, the Brazilian technical
mission visited Nigeria and met with rural small-holder farmers.
– The Nigerian technical team also embarked on a study tour of three
African countries (Ghana, Kenya and Senegal) where MFIP is being
implemented to study their challenges as well as their successes or
failures
– The Nigerian technical team has also visited the selected assembly
plants in the six geopolitical zones to determine in-country capacity
to handle the assembly of a CKD-based programme of this magnitude.

6. Since 2015, the Buhari Administration has been working hard to
bring about irreversible change in many sectors and to diversify the
economy away from oil. The many unprecedented programmes embarked upon
by the Administration have touched the power sector, where timelines
have been given for ending the age-long power supply problem; food
security, especially production of rice, a national staple, through
the Anchor Borrower’s Programme; the unique Social Intervention
Programme (SIP); the unprecedented infrastructural renewal project
covering roads, bridges, rail, etc; the pepped-up fight against
corruption; the innovative programmes to create jobs and the
unrelenting fight against insecurity, among others.

7. The stage is now set for an agricultural revolution that will
strengthen food security, create massive jobs, transfer technology,
revive or reinvigorate many assembly plants, strengthen the economy,
save scarce resources, mechanize farming and lead to the emergence of
value-added agriculture, among other benefits.

8. The Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development will
now make some comments on this programme, after which we will take
questions. Please note that only questions related to THE GREEN
IMPERATIVE programme will be entertained

9. I thank you for your kind attention.