Change Begins With Me: FG Says It Is Leading By Example

Lai Mohammed on Change Begins With MeThe Federal Government says it is already leading by example in its “Change Begins With Me” campaign.

At the presentation of the campaign to a section of the private sector in Lagos on Thursday, the government said that the attitudinal change from leaders was to cut down government overheads.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said that the move to sell off two aircraft from the presidential fleet was in line with the ‘Change’ mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

He added that the campaign would last for the entire tenure of the present government.

“I think the first thing Mr President did was to set up a committee to look into disposal of these aircraft.

“You have to know which of them are outright purchase, which of them are on lease (and if there is) any arm of government that is going to need them.

“I am happy to report today that already, arrangements have gone far to sell two of these aircraft while some of them will also be given to the Air Force,” he said.

The Minister, however, believed that the campaign which was initially launched in Abuja, could only work if both the public and private sectors were well engaged.

Allegation Of Plagiarism

He also used the medium to clear the air about allegation of plagiarism of the “Change Begins With Me” idea.

Mr Mohammed said that he was willing to prove his innocence, vowing that the matter would be settled in court.

“Mr Akin Fadeyi, even by his own admission, came to meet me on the 30th of December, 2015 after I became minister.

“How can you accuse me of stealing an idea which was finished by October when you came to me in December?

“But myself, himself (Fadeyi) and Afe Babalola will meet in court,” he said.

Wrongful Insertion

There were also allegations of wrongful insertion of words credited to US President, Barrack Obama, in the speech delivered by President Buhari on September 8, 2016, at the launch of the campaign.

After the launch of the campaign, a columnist on THISDAY newspaper, AdeolaMuhammadu Buhari, Manufacturing Sector Akinremi, said that the speech violated plagiarism laws and pointed out that the President lifted Obama’s 2008 victory speech and passed it off as if the words were his own.

President Buhari immediately ordered that prompt and appropriate disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for the act.

At the launch of “Change Begins With Me”, President Buhari had said that the campaign was to sustain the effort his administration has made in the fight against corruption.

He described the programme as a determination of his administration to carry all Nigerians along on the journey to a better and greater society that everybody can be proud of.

The President decried the alleged erosion of the long cherished and time honoured, time tested virtues of honesty, integrity, hard work, good neighborliness, abhorrence of corruption and patriotism.

NLGN Seeks Intervention Into Legislators’ Plan To Repeal Act

NLNGThe Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has urged Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, to intervene in the ongoing plan by the National Assembly to repeal the NLNG Act.

The NLNG also expressed concern over Nigeria’s risk of capital flight in the oil and gas sector.

The company identified the loss of potential investments of over 20 billion Naira and at least 18,000 jobs, as the consequence of the plan to repeal the NLNG Act.

The top management officials of the NLNG, led by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tony Attah, made the appeal on Monday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Attah said the Act of parliament which the legislators plan to repeal, served as the pillar of the NLGN, known to be the biggest and most successful made in Nigeria product.

They warned that the move would bring a plethora of arbitration to Nigeria and a further loss of reputation in the business would.

In his response, the Information Minister assured them that no action would be taken to jeopardise the success of the company.

He added that the matter ought to be resolved internally, through a private engagement with the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council.

Nigeria Adopts Development Plan For Mining Sector, Renames Ministry

Nigeria, Mining sector, Muhammadu BuhariThe Federal Executive Council has approved a road map for the growth and development of Nigeria’s mining industry.

The road map, which is to outline the contribution of mining to the growth of the GDP, is said to be in line with the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to diversify the economy away from oil.

Name Of Ministry Of Mining Changed

The Minister in charge of the mining sector, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in company of the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, briefed reporters on the outcome of the meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Dr. Fayemi said the road map which was an offshoot of that of 2012, approved the setting up of an independent agency to regulate the industry.

He hinted reporters that the name of Ministry of Mining and Solid Minerals has also been changed to the Ministry of Mining and Steel Development.

Meanwhile, the University of Lagos and the University of Ibadan also got contract approved for the construction of a university library and international hall respectively during the meeting presided over by President Buhari on Wednesday.

Electronic Wallet Technology

The Federal Government similarly approved the renewal of contract for the electronic wallet technology platform for delivery of fertiliser to small-holder farmers in Nigeria.

The government also assented to a bill for the 2016-2018 external borrowing rolling plan to be sent to the National Assembly.

Chibok Girls: Army Responds To Boko Haram Prisoner Swap Request

Boko Haram new video on Chibok girlsNigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin, on Monday responded to the prisoners’ swap demand made by Boko Haram in a new video of the abducted Chibok girls.

The terrorist group released the video on Sunday showing some of the over 200 girls abducted in 2014 from their school’s dormitory in Chibok, Borno State in Northeast Nigeria.

While addressing reporters after a workshop organised for top Security Chiefs in Abuja, General Olonishakin said that the demand that the Federal Government swap detained Boko Haram members for the Chibok Girls was a political decision that would not stop ongoing military operations.

The workshop was organised for top Security Chiefs on how to respond to emergency situations such as terrorism and flood inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

For the second time since their abduction two years ago, the video of the missing Chibok Girls with their captors has gone viral.

This latest release coincides with the workshop for members of the National Security Council behind closed doors.

How to respond to emergency situations is also said to be of importance to the Security Council, not just in the area of terrorism, but also in disaster management.

Also at the workshop was the Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, who reiterated his position that the government was on top of the situation.

He said efforts to rescue the girls would continue until the girls are out.

That’s an optimism many Nigerians would want to see happen in the nearest possible future.

For now, they say the Chibok girls have over stayed in the hands of Boko Haram and that is seen as a challenge for the government.


The Boko Haram had in the video claimed that the Nigerian Air Force killed some of the girls in aerial bombardments. It also released video footages showing some deceased girls.

Earlier, General said the the Nigerian military has begun analysing the new Boko Haram video posted by the terrorist.

He also said that the war against Boko Haram was a military operation that is going on appropriately.

 

Digital Broadcasting: FG Reaffirms Determination To Switch By June 2017

Digital switchoverThe Federal Government has reaffirmed its determination to meet the June 2017 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, said this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammad Buhari.

Council’s decision is following a briefing by the Minister on the process of the migration to digital broadcasting.

According to the Minister, the pilot scheme in Jos, the Plateau State capital is working out very well as 15 stations can be viewed on a digital platform.

According to the minister the relevant ministers are enjoined to work with the Ministry of Information to ensure a smooth transition.

SEC Draws Up Plan To Push Retail Investors Involvement In Capital Market

capital marketThe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has drawn up a 10-year master plan to scale up the percentage of retail investors in the Nigerian Capital Market from the current two per cent.

The plan is expected to also facilitate the clearing of the 80 billion Naira unclaimed dividends in the sector.

It was announced in Abuja on Friday at a meeting between the Director General of the Commission, Mounir Gwarzo and Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed.

Seeking the support of the Information Minister for public enlightenment, Mr Gwarzo said the master plan would deploy 101 initiatives.

One of the initiatives, according to him, is the electronic dividend currently in operation to help retail investors claim trapped dividends in the market.

He further stated that the plan would address the low involvement of retail investor in the capital market before 2025.

The Minister of Information blamed obsolete laws for the withdrawal of retail investors, whom he said were the key ingredients for the development and growth of the capital market.

FG Meets UK Team Over Switch To Digital Broadcasting

Lai Mohammed, Broadcast DigitisationAs Nigeria moves forward in the switch over from analog to digital transmission, the Federal Government says it is learning from the experiences of the United Kingdom.

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, said this after meeting a team from the United Kingdom on Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The Minister explained that the essence of the meeting was for Nigeria to be enlightened on the basics of a successful digital switch over.

He added that following the successful take-off of the pilot scheme in Jos in central Nigeria, there would be a full roll over in the entire Plateau State and the Federal Capital Territory.

Digital switchoverThe National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) had failed to keep to its promise that the June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for the digital switch over was sacrosanct.

Former Director-General of the NBC, Mr Emeka Mba, had extended the switch over by 18 months, explaining that three years into the process of digitisation with zero allocation and myriads of challenges before the NBC such as aggregate content development, distribution and production and availability of set top boxes, the June 17 deadline was uncertain.

However, the pilot phase of the switch over had Kicked off in the Plateau State capital, signalling the beginning of the process which would spread across states.

Mr Mohammed noted observed that the broadcasting industry at the local, state and national levels was being revolutionised to provide viewers better visuals and sound quality.

Nigerian Ministers Meet Broadcasters, Blame Economic Challenges On Corruption

BON, CorruptionThe Federal Government has blamed the poor state of the economy on corruption and the falling price of crude oil.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, expressed the view while speaking at a meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).

As the administration marks its first year in office, five federal ministers held a meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria.

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah were part of the ministerial delegation.

Media executives listened to the ministers as they took time to explain their achievements and challenges over the past one year. The most challenging for the new administration has been the economy.

The Information Minister said that Nigeria was passing through a very a difficult time and that the road to economic prosperity would be rough. He said that if the present administration had not been elected, the country’s economy would have collapsed.

“Our economy, or whatever is left of it after years of serial mismanagement and massive corruption is in a very bad state. Throw into the mix, the huge fall in oil price and you have nothing but a disaster of an economy.

“But this government is aware that it was not elected to make excuses but to put the nation back to work,” he said.

The ministers promised that the administration would focus on tackling insecurity and fighting corruption as these are the major ways of revamping the economy.

They, however, noted that there was a backlog of issues to be sorted out, like the huge debt owed contractors, which the Power Minister explained.

“We must not allow yesterday’s misfortunes to recur again. It starts from the gradual process of failing to do simple maintenance; failing to paint or failing to clean.

“The impact of what we see today clearly didn’t start today. So if we have paid contractors, we clearly won’t have the kinds of roads that we have today.

“My meeting with contractors in Power and in Works over the last 10 days, the common thread is that they haven’t received payment for an average of three years.”

Nevertheless, the minsters reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to embarking on infrastructural development across the country.

The ministers also gave the assurance that the government would fulfil its election campaign promises to Nigerians.

France Returns Nigeria’s Stolen Artefact

Stolen ArtefactThe Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has warned against the trafficking of the nation’s cultural heritage.

The Minister was speaking at the handover of the trafficked Nok terracotta by the Ambassador of France in Abuja.

He appealed to other countries who are yet to return trafficked artefacts from Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the French government.

On his part, the Director General of the National Commission for Museum and Monuments, Mr Yusuf Usman, urged Nigerians to pay more attention to their cultures.

He said that the nation is blessed with diverse cultural landscapes that could serve as a major revenue earner for government if well harnessed.

FG Sets April 30 To Commence Digital Switch Over

Broadcast-Digital-Switch-OverThe Federal Government has announced plans to commence the ‘pilot phase’ of the digital switch over by April 30.

The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Lai Mohammed, gave the date on Wednesday at a meeting with members of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

“As you all know, we have a deadline of June 2017 which is just a little more than a year to achieve the digital switch over.” he said.

The Minister explained that the initiative would help perfect the process of the digital switch over after three previous attempts.

He hinted that the ‘pilot phase’ has been scheduled for Plateau State, which would take place at the end of April while giving assurance that the set date would not be missed based on the efforts made so far.

Mr Mohammed added that the government would not only carry the broadcast firms along but would also provide them with updates on the process.

He admitted that the government was aware of the concerns that had been raised by some broadcast firms over the process, assuring them that they would be addressed in due course.

The Change You Voted For Is Real – Lai Mohammed

Fuel ScarcityThe Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, has assured Nigerians that the change they voted for is real and good life awaits all citizens once the planning stage is over.

He said that he was aware that many Nigerians are already doubting the APC’s promise of ‘change’ but the 2016 budget is a statement that clearly explains the Nigerian government’s economic direction and plan for the citizens.

He said this in response to questions about the economic policies of the Buhari-led administration while speaking on Sunday Politics on Channels Television.

He explained that 40% of all expenditure in the budget has been dedicated to capital projects which are roads, power, railroads and other infrastructure.

Asides helping to reflate the economy, Mr Mohammed said that this is expected to create an enabling environment for the manufacturing sector and ultimately strengthen the non-oil sector.

“If you look at our budget for 2016, this is the first time in Nigeria that the government has gone for what I call an inclusive budget. This is where everybody is taken care of.

“Before now, you do not see this social inclusion in our budget. You have small pockets of alleviation of poverty here and there but for the first time the government is taking a bold step to set aside the sum of 500 billion Naira for social intervention,” he said.

Doubts about how realistic the social intervention plan is led the Minister to explain the ways in which the government hopes to execute the project which he insisted had been well worked out.

The Need To Borrow

As more Nigerians continue to question the rationale behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s trips abroad, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed said Nigeria does not have an option for now as the government needs to rejig the economy.

He explained that the revenue of the country has dropped significantly and rejigging the economy can only be done through help from other nations.

The decision of the government to borrow has also received heavy criticisms from Nigerians and the opposition political parties but Alhaji Mohammed said that the decision is justified.

“There is no way, in the situation we have found ourselves, that we will not run a deficit budget. When your income is not enough to cover your expenditure, you borrow but what is important is what you do with the money you borrowed.

“Whatever money we borrow today is not going to be used for recurrent expenditure. It is going to be invested in railroads, roads, power, providing infrastructure for agriculture and solid minerals.”

He declared that indeed the President would be negotiating a loan on his trip to China, adding emphatically that there is no apology for the decision.

Although he would not state specifically how much the President would be hoping to borrow from China, he said that the country had a deficit of about two to three trillion Naira, explaining further that if Nigeria had been able to generate enough income the APC government would not have considered borrowing.

“What do you expect us to do? When we were earning 100 dollar per barrel, we had the same workforce as today when we are earning 40 dollars per barrel.

“When we had 100 dollars per barrel we had the same overhead as we have today and we still have to maintain the same infrastructure and still improve on it. Of course there is no other way than borrowing.”

Mr Mohammed also condemned the criticisms trailing the decision to borrow, stating that the Federal Government deserves some credit for the manner in which it has managed the nation’s economy in the face of dwindling revenue, “otherwise the situation would be worse by now”.

He cited the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) as a move that has shored up the finances of the government. He said that the Buhari administration has also brought more discipline into government and has been “able to block so much leakages”.

He gave the assurance that the government is very careful not to go beyond the ratio of debt to income, “I know that whatever we borrow today is within the limit and capacity of government to pay.”

President Muhammadu Buhari has travelled to China and the Presidency has explained that the trip is aimed at securing greater support from Beijing for the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure, especially in the power, roads, railways, aviation, water supply and housing sectors.

Fuel Scarcity

The Minister also had some words of appreciation and encouragement for Nigerians who have had to endure weeks of hardship due to the fuel scarcity across the states.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed empathized with Nigerians on the pains they have gone through over the last one month as federal authorities are doing everything within their powers to normalize the situation.

“I have said it on many fora that the government is keenly aware of the hardship and difficulties Nigerians have gone through in the last couple of weeks and we do empathize with them.

Fuel scarcity“Not only do we empathize with them but we appreciate their perseverance and we have also been working round the clock to ensure that we are able to bring the situation back to normal,” he said.

He said that the efforts have paid off as the fuel situation was gradually being normalized with cargoes of refined product being discharged in major cities across the country.

In addition, the Warri refinery, according to the Minister of Information has since been working and has 19 million litres of the product, helping to put the quantity of product in the reserve to 430 million litres.

“As from tomorrow we are going to deploy 1,300 trucks all over Nigeria to ensure that the fuel situation gets much better,” he said, expressing confidence that this quantity being distributed daily would put an end to the fuel scarcity.

“We empathize with Nigerians, we salute their courage and perseverance and I want to assure them that the change they voted for is real, that change will come and that all the challenges we are facing today are very temporary.”

The Minster went further to name the lack of foreign exchange and the crash in the price of crude which has been Nigeria’s only source of revenue as factors responsible for the fuel situation.

He also said that the federal government plans to build modular refineries to further boost the availability of the product.

FG Apologizes To Nigerians Over Fuel Scarcity

Fuel ScarcityThe Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed on Sunday empathized with Nigerians on the pains they have gone through over the last one month owing to fuel scarcity across the states.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, he said that federal authorities were doing everything within their powers to normalize the situation.

“I have said it on many fora that the government is keenly aware of the hardship and difficulties Nigerians have gone through in the last couple of weeks and we do empathize with them.

“Not only do we empathize with them but we appreciate their perseverance and we have also been working round the clock to ensure that we are able to bring the situation back to normal,” he said.

He stated further that the efforts so far made by the federal government have paid off as the fuel situation was gradually being normalized with cargoes of refined product being discharged in major cities across the country.

In addition, the Warri refinery, according to the Minister of Information has since been working and has 19 million litres of the product, helping to put the quantity of product in the reserve to 430 million litres.

“As from tomorrow we are going to deploy 1,300 trucks of all over Nigeria to ensure that the fuel situation gets much better,” he said, expressing confidence that this quantity being distributed daily would put an end to the fuel scarcity.

“We empathize with Nigerians, we salute their courage and perseverance and I want to assure them that the change they voted for is real, that change will come and that all the challenges we are facing today are very temporary,”the Minister said.

He also said that the federal government plans to build modular refineries.