Obasanjo’s Comments On Boko Haram Divisive, Depressing – FG

The federal government has described former President Olusegun
Obasanjo’s comments imputing ethno-religious motive to Boko Haram and
ISWAP as deeply offensive and patently divisive, saying such
indiscreet comments are far below the status of an elder statesman.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of Information
and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said it was particularly tragic that
a man who fought to keep Nigeria one is the same one seeking to
exploit the country’s fault lines to divide it in the twilight of his
life.

He said Boko Haram and ISWAP are terrorist organizations pure and
simple, adding that they care little about ethnicity or religion when
perpetrating their senseless killings and destruction.

”Since the Boko Haram crisis, which has been simmering under the
watch of Obasanjo, boiled over in 2009, the terrorist organization has
killed more Muslims than adherents of any other religion, blown up
more mosques than any other houses of worship and is not known to have
spared any victim on the basis of their ethnicity. It is therefore
absurd to say that Boko Haram and its ISWAP variant have as their goal
the ‘Fulanisation and Islamisation’ of Nigeria, West Africa or
Africa,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said President Buhari put to rest the mis-characterization of Boko
Haram as an Islamic organization when he said, in his inaugural speech
in 2015, that ”Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far
away from Islam as one can think of”.

The Minister said Obasanjo’s comments are therefore as insensitive and
mischievous as they are as offensive and divisive in a multi-ethnic
and multi-religious country like Nigeria, wondering whether there is
no limit to how far the former President will go in throwing poisonous
darts at his perceived political enemies.

He said Obasanjo’s prescriptions for ending the Boko Haram/ISWAP
crisis, which include seeking assistance outside the shores of
Nigeria, are coming several years late, as President Buhari has done
that and more since assuming office, hence the phenomenal success he
has recorded in tackling the terrorists.

”Shortly after assuming office in 2015, President Buhari’s first
trips outside the country were to rally the support of Nigeria’s
neighbours – Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger – for the efforts to
battle the terrorists. The President also rallied the support of the
international community, starting with the G7, and then the US, France
and the UN.

”That explains the massive degrading of Boko Haram, which has since
lost its capacity to carry out the kind of spectacular attacks for
which it became infamous, and the recovery of every inch of captured
Nigerian territory from the terrorists,” Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said Obasanjo’s call for wide consultations with various groups as
part of the efforts to tackle the Boko Haram crisis has been
neutralized by his ill-advised comments which have served more to
alienate a large number of Nigerians, who are offended by his tactless
and distasteful postulation.

The Minister called on the former President, whom he said took bullets
for Nigeria’s unity, not to allow personal animosity to override his
love for a united Nigeria, saying it will not be out of place if he
withdraws his unfortunate statement and apologizes to Nigerians.

Segun Adeyemi
SA To Hon Minister of Information and Culture

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Offa Robbery: Lai Mohammed Releases Alleged Evidences On Saraki’s Lies

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that he is presenting to the public available evidences of how the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, lied that he donated N10 million to the victims of Offa bank robbery.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, the minister said he is presenting to the public both the unedited version of a live radio interview as well as the doctored, re-broadcast version on the donated fund to show Saraki’s disdain for truth.

Specifically, the minister said that in the live radio interview on Christmas Day Saraki said he donated the N10 million to the robbery victims in Offa.

However, it was doctored before it was re-broadcast to remove any reference to the claimed donation of N10 million to victims of the armed robbery.

Mohammed said he is releasing the evidence for Nigerians to see the extent to which “some leaders can go to deceive the people and peddle lies just to shore up their dwindling fortunes”.

”In the unedited live version, Dr Saraki, speaking in Yoruba, said categorically that he donated N10 million when he visited Offa to commiserate with the victims of the armed robbery.

“He claimed he is donating N10 million, whereas about N7 million was stolen from the vaults of the banks that were robbed during the attack.

”However, the version for re-broadcast did not contain any reference to the Offa robbery.

‘Whereas they claimed to have re-broadcast the interview due to popular demand, the truth is that they decided to re-air it without the claim of N10 million donation due to the widespread derision that greeted that phantom claim.

“These people have a chronic disdain for the truth,” he said.

Mohammed challenged the Senate President to answer three critical questions or learn to keep his peace:

“The first one is did he not say, during the live interview, that the money in the vault was N7 million and that he dropped N10 million when he went to Offa on a condolence visit?

” The second question is did he really drop any money on that occasion?

“And the third, did he or did he not doctor the original broadcast?”

The minister said while he would not want to exchange words with Saraki on who is truly on ground in Kwraa, it is important to let him know that six weeks from now, the people of Kwara will answer that question.

”On Nov. 17 2018, the people of Kwara gave a hint of their determination to sack the rapacious leaders who have dominated their lives when they voted for the APC in the by-election for the Ekiti/Isin/Irepodun/Oke-Ero federal constituency.

” That crushing defeat so devastated the political warlords, who hitherto claimed
invincibility, that they started doing what they have never done before: going from ward to ward to campaign!

”Unfortunately, the game is up for them, as they will soon learn, because the people have resolved that ‘O to ge’ (enough is enough). In the meantime, they are free to continue to revel in self-deceit,” the Minister said.

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Improved Security, Upgraded Infrastructure Will Boost Nigeria’s Tourism – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the present administration’s efforts at improving security and upgrading infrastructure is a deliberate policy to promote tourism in Nigeria.

The Minister, who stated this when he received the Secretary-General of the D-8, Mr. Dato’ Ku Jafafar Ku Shaari, on a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja on Tuesday, noted that without the provision of security and critical infrastructure, tourism development will remain a mirage.

“Without peace and security, the best tourist attractions will be inaccessible to anybody. As a matter of fact, without peace and security and stability, travel advisories will actually discourage or even prohibit tourists from coming into those areas and the people don’t invest really in the areas where there is instability or insecurity. That is why the government has made it a cardinal principle to address the issue of insecurity in the country,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said in spite of the recent setbacks in the fight against insurgency in the country, the government has succeeded in banishing Boko Haram to the fringes of Lake Chad, from where they carry out cowardly attacks.

He said before the advent of the Buhari Administration, a large chunk of Nigeria’s territory, including 20 out of the 27 Local Government Areas in Borno State, was under the effective control of Boko Haram.

The Minister also said before the Administration assumed office, Boko Haram could stroll into the Federal Capital Territory to carry outdeadly attacks, but that the reverse is the case now.

“Today after three years, we have had no single incident of any insurgency in Abuja or its environs,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said President Buhari has succeeded in mobilizing regional support to ensure the comprehensive defeat of Boko Haram in the Sahel Region.

On the provision of infrastructure, he said the Administration has invested N2.7 trillion in infrastructure within two years.

“Your Excellency, you cannot have tourism without infrastructure. There must be roads, airports, power. Without these things, you can’t even access the tourist attractions and it’s on record that this government has in the last two years – 2016-2017 – invested massively in infrastructure,” he said.

The Minister assured that Nigeria is poised to take advantage of its membership of the D-8 to advance its tourism sector.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General of D-8 said he and his team were in the ministry to secure the input of the government towards the development of a strategic vision on how member countries can share experiences and knowledge on tourism.

“The purpose of our visit today to the ministry is to learn from the government and the ministry in all the activities in respect ofculture and tourism and where we can connect as an organisation,” he said.
He commended the Nigerian government for its efforts towards the development of tourism, especially the provision of security and critical infrastructure as well as the introduction of Visa On Arrival for tourists.
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2019: No Amount Of Fake News Will Save PDP From Imminent Defeat – Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that no amount of fake news will save the opposition parties from total defeat come 16th February and 2nd March 2019 general elections.

Mr. Mohammed stated this on Thursday in Kaduna when he paid the State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-rufai a courtesy visit.

The minister is in Kaduna for the 47th meeting of the National Council on Information, with the theme “Tackling fake news and hate speech to enhance peace and National unity”.

According to the Information Minister, fake news has become the most difficult challenge confronting the country today as it is the most potent weapon in the hands of the opposition party in the run off to the 2019 general elections.

The Minister also warned that the country will begin to witness more of it, especially now that the election is at hand because the opposition have nothing to debase the ruling party with giving the numerous achievement of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration within the short time.

 

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N540 Billion Recovered Through Whistle Blower Policy – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) has so far recovered over 540 billion Naira through the Whistle Blower Policy.

The Minister disclosed this on Tuesday at the 71st General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“To this end, as at May this year, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, through the Whistle Blower Policy, has recovered over N527 Billion, $53 million, and £122,890,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed, who was represented by the Director, Public Relations and Protocol, of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr. Sunny Adejoh Baba, said the EFCC also successfully launched a major onslaught on the seeming high–and–mighty in the society (including senior military officer and their civilian accomplices), who had
soiled their hands with shady deals, leading to the recovery of choice assets across the country.

He therefore enjoined the media to align itself with the policies and programmes of the Buhari Administration, aimed at ridding the country of the cancer of corruption, in order to free funds for development projects, which will uplift the standard of living of the citizenry.
“This effort should not be seen as the sole effort of Mr. President or the Government alone.  The media has a duty to ensure that the programmes of Government, meant to uplift the lots of the citizenry, are projected as a national cause and not just as that of Mr. President or the administration,” the Minister said.

Alhaji Mohammed, who said the BON General Assembly is taking place at an auspicious time in view of the forthcoming general elections, charged the broadcasting organizations not to yield their platforms to the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.

He said the broadcasting outfits should instead promote the unity, stability and the development of the country.

“Anything short of this would amount to a criminal abdication of a sacred duty which could spell doom for our collective national life. We have had enough sordid examples to learn from that we ought not to allow a repeat at this critical time of our national development.

“It is therefore of utmost importance that the media and specifically, broadcast media, do not allow itself to become a purveyor of fake news and hate speeches,” the Minister said.

He restated the Federal Government’s commitment to allowing the press to carry out its assigned watchdog roles, even as government expects the press to be guided by national interest above every other interests. Alhaji Mohammed said the launch of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Jos in April 2016 underscored the Administration’s determination to democratize the right to know, the right to knowledge and the right to be informed.

He noted that the changing media landscape and the advent of digital technologies have fundamentally altered the nature and function of media in the society, at times circumventing traditional media and challenging its privileged role as gate-keeper of news and entertainment.

The Minister therefore urged companies in the broadcasting value-chain to take the advantage of the market and build local stations that would not only create employment for a diverse segment of the population, but would also lead to a transfer of technology and free the creative dexterity of the young population.
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APC Will Make Positive Impact In Kwara State – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government would bring about the desired transformation envisioned for Kwara state when it assumes power in 2019.

Mohammed made the statement on Sunday while addressing thousands of APC supporters in his home town of Oro, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara.

The supporters were on a solidarity visit to the minister over the party’s victory in the just concluded by-election won by its candidate, Raheem Olawuyi.

The minister said that the people of the state were yet to fully harness the positive impact of the present administration’s people oriented policies and programmes.

According to him, with the emergence of the party’s candidate, Abdulrahman Abdulrasak, 2019 general elections would bring about the desired growth, progress and development in the state.

He described the just concluded Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency by-election in the state as an eye opener, saying that it was the first time the state witnessed an election devoid of molestation and harassment.

The minister, who described the election as credible, free and fair, said the adequate deployment of security personnel for the election which was being misconstrued by the PDP led state government, was basically to maintain law and order.

“This is the first time the state is witnessing an election where people would not be subjected to act of harassment and intimation due to adequate security which provided a level playing ground.

“Perpetrators of such violence of act in the years past are not always apprehended because that is the only weapon being employed to win elections by those who thought the state belongs to them.

“I want to assure that this is just the beginning of many good things to come the way of the state as we have not fully utilised the goodies of President Muhammad Buhari.

“But come 2019 when our candidate takes over the mantle of leadership, the party will surely make the difference in terms of good governance,” he said.

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Accurate and Timely Information Critical For National Unity, Growth of Democracy – Minister

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said access to accurate and timely information is critical to enhancing citizens’ participation in governance, the strengthening of national unity and the growth of democracy in the country.

The Minister stated this in his presentation on the topic ”Nigeria’s National Unity: Toward Participation and Shared Values,’’ at the Chatham House in London on Wednesday.

He said that in line with the mandate of the Ministry of Information and Culture, which includes the strategic communication of government’s policies and programmes, he has embarked on programmes to keep the citizenry fully informed about government activities and also to get feedback from them.

Alhaji Mohammed listed such programmes as the Town Hall Meeting, regular engagements with stakeholders, touring of federal government projects across the country, the government information portal FGNiApp and regular media intervention, among others.

He said shortly after he assumed office, he took local and foreign journalists on a tour of the liberated part of the North-east to see the battle against Boko Haram first hand and report it vividly to Nigerians to get their buy-in and also for them to appreciate the renewed efforts by the military to decimate the insurgents.

‘’We also realized early on that for democracy to grow, it is important to ensure citizens’ participation in decision and policies affecting their lives – especially in a direct manner, rather than through their elected representatives only. This informed our decision to launch the Town Hall Meeting series in which cabinet Ministers meet, in a town hall setting, a cross section of Nigerians from all walks of life, with a view to keeping them informed about government policies and programmes and, at the same time, getting their feedbacks and inputs,’’ the Minister said.

He said the tour of government’s projects was also initiated to intimate the citizenry with the massive infrastructural projects of the Federal Government

‘’Since coming into office, the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has embarked on an unprecedented renewal of the nation’s infrastructure, investing an unprecedented 2.7 trillion Naira on roads, rails, power and other similar projects. But it is not enough to embark on these projects, it is also important to let the public know the extent and spread of such projects to foster a sense of national unity.

‘’This explains why we kick-started a nationwide tour of Federal Government projects, with not less than 25 journalists accompanying me on each trip. Till date, we have inspected many of such projects, including the new Lagos to Kano standard gauge rail line, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in the Southwest that connects the port city of Lagos to other parts of the country, the new intra-city rail line connecting the Abuja city centre to the international Airport, the Enugu-Port Harcourt freeway and the second Niger Bridge in the South-east and the Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa road in central Nigeria,’’Alhaji Mohammed said.

He said the FGNiAPP was launched to provide up-to-date information about government’s projects and policies to the people, irrespective of where they are.

The Minister also said he had regularly met with the various media stakeholders in Nigeria, to discuss with them government policies and programmes, listing some of such groups as the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Online publishers.

‘’We have also gone beyond the shores of Nigeria to meet with the global media, policy think tanks and decision makers, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. My current visit to London is the latest of such visits,’’ he said

Alhaji Mohammed said that in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, Nigeria faces a new challenge, a threat not just to the country’s peace and security, but indeed its very existence.It is the dual challenge of fake news and hate speech.

”Yes, the fake news problem is not unique to Nigeria, but it poses a more potent threat to the country because of its multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural status. It is also a clear and present danger to the nation’s unity. Naysayers have latched onto the fake news phenomenon to exploit the country’s fault lines and inflame passion,’’ he said

He said the National Campaign Against Fake News was launched to tackle the problem by sensitizing Nigerians to the dangers posed by fake news.

The Minister assured of the government’s continued effort to remain dynamic in providing information to the people, both within and outside Nigeria.

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FG Releases List Of 69 Ongoing Road, Bridge Projects In The South-East

The Federal Government has released the list of the 69 ongoing road and bridge projects in the South-east (please see attached list).

In a statement in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said though the contracts for many of the roads were awarded before the advent of this Administration, they were either poorly funded or not funded at all, hence work on the roads has lingered.

The Minister said the 69 roads and bridges, which are spread across the five states in the South-east, are now in different stages of completion, thanks to the funding sourced by the present Administration from budgetary allocations, the Sukuk Bond and the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund.

He said the government is also looking into the possibility of using a part of the recovered looted funds to fund the development of infrastructure across the country.

While announcing the projects, which include the rehabilitation of the existing Niger Bridge as well as the construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge last week, Alhaji Mohammed promised to publish the full list of the roads and bridges, as well as give a state-by-state breakdown of the total figure.

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FG Has 69 Ongoing Infrastructural Projects In The South-East – Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has refuted the statement credited to the Governors of the states in the South-east, that the region has been shortchanged in the implementation of infrastructural projects, saying there are 69 ongoing projects in the region alone.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, issued the rebuttal in Ilorin on Thursday, at a lecture by Mr. Festus Keyamo, spokesman for the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organization.

”While this claim may have made headlines, it is totally untrue. His Excellencies were either misquoted or they were quoted of context. Either way, this allegation flies in the face of available evidence,” he said, promising to publish THE full list of the projects and the state-by-state breakdown.

Alhaji Mohammed said no part of the country, including the South-east, has been left out of the massive infrastructural projects of this Administration, adding that from the proceeds of the 100 billion Naira Sukuk Bond alone, the South-east got 16.6 billion Naira worth of projects, just alike any other zone.

He listed the four projects covered by the Sukuk Bond proceeds in the South-east as Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Section II (Umuahia Tower-Aba Township Rail/Road Bridge Crossing in Abia State; Enugu-Port Harcourt Dual Carriageway Section I (Lokpanta-Umahia Tower) in Abia State; Outstanding section of the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway (Amansea -Enugu State Border) and the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway Section III (Enugu-Lokpanta) in Enugu State.

The Minister said he had gone on a media inspection of the roads, as well as the Aba-Port Harcourt section of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and the 2nd Niger Bridge, where the contractor has completed the first three phases of the project.

”In conclusion, the South-east has never had it so good in the areaof infrastructure. Had the previous Administrations done even half of what we are doing now in that region, no one will be complaining
today. It is alright to ask for more, but it is unfair to say nothing has been done,” he said.
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President Buhari Is Investing In Infrastructure And Not Sharing Money To Few Individuals – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has chosen to invest in critical infrastructure to revamp the economy, instead of sharing money to a few individuals.

Mohammamed said this while on an inspection tour of the newly rehabilitated Ilorin-Jebba-Mojwa-Birnin Gwari road in North Central Nigeria.

He said the present administration is convinced that when it provides the critical infrastructure, the country will be on the path to greatness.

The Minister noted that the government remain focused in delivering the much expected infrastructural dividends to the people of Nigeria.

Mr. Mohammed said the road is very strategic to the Nigerian economy because it is an important gate way that connects the North and the South-Western parts of the country.

The Minister said until the present administration came into office, the Ilorin-Jebba road was a total failure, adding: “Work commenced in 2014 and by the time this administration came it was only 15.9% completed. As of today, it’s 100% completed. I think this is very significant.”

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Abuja Light Rail Project Employs 10,000 Nigerians, Says Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that the Abuja Light Rail project which was recently commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, would employ more 100,000 Nigerians who would be directly or indirectly employed when the project begins full operation.

Mohammed stated this while inspecting the Abuja light rail project on Thursday with a team of journalists.

The Chief Resident Engineer of the light rail project, Mr. Anthony Agbakoba, while briefing the Minister on a facility tour on the project said about 10,000 Nigerians were employed during the construction of the Abuja Light Rail Project.

Mr. Agbakoba said that in addition, 68highly-skilled personnel have been trained in Malaysia and China on Railway Operations and Management in order to build the required technical capacity needed to run such a modern rail system.

“FCTA (Federal Capital Territory Administration) and Nigeria now have capacity to supervise similar railway construction projects from start to completion within 3 to 4 years of conception,” he said.

 

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Lai Mohammed Driver Denies Report Of Abandoning Him

Aliyu Omeiza, the official driver to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has denied social media report that he abandoned the minister on the road in Abuja and decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Wednesday evening, Omeiza said the report was fake because such incident did not happen.

“It is a lie, Nothing like that happened. I drove my Oga to the Villa in the morning where he attended the Federal Executive Council meeting.

” We also went to some other places with all the security details before I closed for work.

“I am not a politician, I do not belong to any political party, not to talk of decamping.

“This is an example of fake news that Oga has been talking about,” he said.

Omeiza who said he has been driving the minister for years said he has no reason to leave the minister because he has been so good to him.

NAN

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