The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday, said that the Federal Government’s war against corruption was a panacea for development.
Mohammed said this in an interview with newsmen shortly after a courtesy visit to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State at the State House, Alausa, Ikeja.
“Corruption is eating deep not just into the fabric of our moral but is preventing development.
“The emphasis of this government today is not just to talk about figures of how much has been embezzled,” he said.
Mohammed said that the Federal Government was also more concerned about letting Nigerians know how corruption had affected them.
“More importantly, what the government wants to do is to let Nigerians know the cost of what corruption has done to them.
“When we had a news conference in January and disclosed that 55 people allegedly stole N1.34 trillion between 2007 and 2013, what we tried to emphasise then was what one third of that money could have done to Nigeria,” Mohammed said.
He said that this money would have been used to bring more development to the country.
Mohammed said that the government was not out to witch hunt or vilify anybody and urged Nigerians to cooperate with it in its fight against corruption.
He said that the essence of the visit was to solicit the support of the Lagos State Government on the redevelopment of the National Museum at Onikan and the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu.
Mohammed acknowledged several on-going projects in the state, saying that when completed they would boost tourism.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will hold a National Summit on Culture and Tourism in March in an effort to make the Culture and Tourism Sector a major revenue earner for the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Ahaji Lai Mohammed, announced the plan to host the summit, yesterday, when he paid a courtesy visit to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, in his office in Lagos.
He said the summit, to be held in Abuja April 11th and 12th, would bring all stakeholders together to examine and proffer solutions to the problems mitigating against culture and tourism being huge revenue earners for the country.
“The summit will signpost our determination to put culture and tourism at the very centre of the Federal Government’s on-going efforts to diversify the economy away from oil,” Mohammed said.
He used the opportunity of the visit to invite Ambode to the summit, saying Lagos State, which is a foremost hub of entertainment, arts, culture and tourism, has a big role to play in the efforts to reposition the creative industry in the country.
The minister hailed the Lagos State Government for embarking on the provision of security and infrastructure, both of which are critical to boosting culture and tourism.
“With the drastic fall in the price of crude oil, the Federal Government is currently in the process of diversifying the country’s economy to shift emphasis to other key sectors like tourism, agriculture and solid minerals. With particular reference to tourism, we have a lot to learn from the giant strides that have been made by this state in the provision of infrastructure, which is critical to stimulating tourism.
“The intra-city rail transportation system that is expected to come on stream in December 2016, the 10-lane highway to Bagadry, which is one of the state’s foremost tourist destinations, and the provision of effective security through the innovative Lagos State Security Trust Fund all stand the state in good stead to remain the top tourist destination for a long time to come,” he said.
The minister also sought the support of Lagos State Government for the Federal Government’s efforts to revamp the National Theatre and restore its lost shine.
“Let me reiterate that the Federal Government will not sell the National Theatre. Our plan is to develop the fallow land around the edifice, using the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, and then use the proceeds to rehabilitate the National Theatre. Again, Lagos State is a trailblazer in this respect, having successfully leveraged the PPP model for the Lekki Expressway,” he said.
Responding, Ambode said he has accepted the invitation to participate at the summit, adding: “We will bring a large team.”
He commended Mohammed for his invaluable role, as the national publicity secretary, in the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the last general elections, saying his appointment as minister of Information and Culture was well deserved.
The governor stressed the need for the country to pay greater attention to the service sector which, he said, has been neglected for a long time.
Ogoni Youths Give FG 14 Days To Fix East-West Road
No fewer than 400 youths under the aegis of Ogoni Youth Federation (OYF), yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the Eleme axis of the East-West Road, giving the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to mobilize to site and fix the road or have economic activities in the area grounded.
The protesters, who carried various placards with inscriptions to press home their demands, trekked from Akpajo Junction to Refinery Junction in Eleme LGA, chanting solidarity songs to register their discontent over the neglect of the road.
Addressing newsmen during the protest, President General of the Ogoni Youth Federation, Comrade Legborsi Yaamabana, said it was regrettable that the road, which was a major route to the economic hub of the nation, has remained in a deplorable state, only becoming a death trap that has terminated the lives of innocent Ogonis.
Yaamabana, who described the mass action of the youths as a ‘warning protest’, said if the contractors handling the road were not immediately mobilized to site, then, the youths will have no option than to shut down all economic activities in the area.
He said, “we cannot continue to watch our people being killed on daily basis by tankers because of the poor state of Eleme axis of the east west road, we are calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency fix the road and save our people from untimely deaths as a result of the sorry state of the road, the only bridge on the road at Aleto has collapse but nothing is being done to avert the disasters faced by our people daily”.
Yaamabana also called on the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio to constitute a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission to address the development needs of the Niger Delta region, noting that the use of interim management for NDDC was “diversionary, self serving and not in the interest of the development of the Niger Delta region”.
The OYF president general also called on the Federal Government to exonerate Ken Saro-Wiwa and his compatriots who were extra-judicially murdered by the late Gen Sani Abacha military junta, and given post-humours honour as martyrs of democracy in Nigeria, while the ideals of justice they stood for should be upheld.
Also speaking, the immediate past secretary of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eastern Zone, Comrade James Tobin, who joined the protest in solidarity, decried the neglect of the East—West Road by the Federal Government, and called the immediate fixing of the road to save the teeming road users from untold pains and death.
By: Taneh Beemene
Rising Prices Push 7m Nigerians Below Poverty Line -World Bank
The World Bank has said that rising prices pushed about seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020.
This was contained in a press statement titled, ‘Critical reforms needed to reduce inflation and accelerate the recovery, says new World Bank report,’ released by the World Bank’s Senior External Affairs Officer of Nigeria, Mansir Nasir.
The press statement was released, yesterday, in line with the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update.
It was acknowledged that the Federal Government “took measures to protect the economy against a much deeper recession” but it was recommended that certain policies should be set for a strong recovery.”
The statement read, “The NDU, titled ‘Resilience through Reforms,’ notes that in 2020, the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of -1.8 per cent than had been projected at the beginning of the pandemic (-3.2 per cent). Although the economy started to grow again, prices are increasing rapidly, severely impacting Nigerian households.
“As of April, 2021, the inflation rate was the highest in four years. Food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation. Rising prices have pushed an estimated seven million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.”
Quoted in the statement, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, identified some of the challenges faced by the country and recommended a way forward.
“Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.
“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realise its development potential,” Chaudhuri said.
Also quoted is the World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria and co-author of the NDU, Marco Hernandez, who also gave a recommendation.
“Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedite reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery,” Hernandez said.
Inflation Dips To 17.93% In May, NBS Confirms
Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 17.93 per cent in May, 2021, from 18.12 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed this in its monthly Consumer Price Index report released, yesterday.
The drop in the headline inflation in May was the second consecutive month this year.
The report indicates that the consumer price index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate increased by 17.93 per cent (year-on-year) in May, 2021, which is 0.19 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in the preceding month.
According to NBS, food inflation dropped in the same month from 22.78 per cent recorded in April, 2021 to 22.28 per cent in May, 2021.
The report reads, ‘‘All items less farm produce which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce stood at 13.15 per cent in May, 2021, up by 0.41 per cent when compared with 12.74 per cent recorded in April, 2021.
‘‘The highest increases were recorded in prices of pharmaceutical products, garments, shoes and other footwear, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, furniture and furnishing, carpet and other floor covering.
‘‘Others include, motor cars, Hospital services, fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment, cleaning, repair and hire of clothing.
“Other services include personal transport equipment, gas, household textile, and non-durable household goods,” the NBS added.
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