On November 11, 2015, President Muhammadu assigned 36 ministers with portfolios.
Buhari’s administration had compressed about 48 federal ministries it inherited from the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to 24 ministries.
With that, ministries such as Information, Culture, National Orientation and Tourism became one — Information and Culture — with Alhaji Lai Mohammed as the minister.
Though, the inauguration of the cabinet came after several months of Buhari’s swearing in as President on May 29, 2015, the ministers were directed to hit the ground running by decisive implementation of the government policies.
“Our new ministers must proceed to work speedily and do their utmost to justify the confidence we have placed in them not only by their conduct but also by their performance in their various positions,’’ the president said.
One year after, Nigerians have been asking how much has the Ministry of Information and Culture done in communicating and disseminating government programmes, activities and policies as well as in repositioning the culture and tourism sector.
In response to this, the minister said he had been able to inaugurate sensitisation campaigns on the fight against corruption, fight against insecurity and the need to revamp the economy and create jobs and wealth, among others.
“If you recollect, the first thing we did was to change the narrative on the Boko Haram crisis.
“Having realised that the determined effort of the government to turn the table against the insurgents was not receiving the necessary support and understanding from the people, we took a very dangerous but necessary trip to the heart of the Boko Haram crisis in the North-East.
“I led more than 30 local and foreign journalists to visit Bama, which was the headquarters of the self-declared caliphate of the insurgents, Konduga and Kaure.
“We, thereafter, returned to tell Nigerians that our gallant troops had massively degraded the capacity of the insurgents to carry out the kind of spectacular attacks that they used to carry out.
“Many accused us of engaging in propaganda. But the rare feat achieved by our military in decimating an insurgency has today become the subject of global acclaim,’’ he said.
The minister noted that the rare step he took and subsequent regular briefing and engagement of Nigerians on the efforts of the government at fighting the insurgents played significant role in the defeat of Boko Haram insurgents.
“Nigerians have taken ownership of the war and the insurgents are on the run, only throwing a few bombs here and there at vulnerable targets — what we call the last kicks of a dying horse,’’ he said.
Mohammed also said that the ministry had inaugurated the sensitisation campaign aimed at alerting Nigerians to the evils of corruption and the need to spare no effort in fighting it.
“The campaign strategy was to ensure that Nigerians got to know how corruption has affected their lives.
“For example, we told Nigerians that it was corruption that prolonged the war against Boko Haram and dispatched many soldiers and civilians to their early graves.
“We also told them that it was corruption that ensured that while oil was selling for more than 100 dollars per barrel, the country had nothing to show for the windfall, a situation that resulted in economic recession.
“We sensitised Nigerians to the fact that it was corruption that gave them darkness, instead of light, while successive governments pumped millions of naira into the power sector,’’ he said.
Mohammed recalled that with the efforts of the ministry in keeping the people informed using all available channels of communication; most Nigerian knew the effects of corruption and talked more negatively against it than at any other time.
He said the ministry also championed the campaign on the economy in an effort to keep Nigerians abreast of the various measures the government was using to end the recession as quickly as possible.
The minister, however, disclosed that in the last one year, the biggest challenge the ministry had faced in efforts to communicate with Nigerians had been the propensity of a group of “naysayers’’ who constantly used fake information to discredit the government by using the social media.
“Everyday, these groups of people deliberately distort our messages while also suffusing the atmosphere with their own version of information,’’ he said.
To counter the activities of the group, Mohammed said that the ministry initiated Town Hall meetings that allowed government officials to speak with Nigerians directly and also get the necessary feedback.
“We have held such meetings in Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Uyo, Enugu and Abuja, during which ministers interacted directly with a cross section of Nigerians.
Considering its effectiveness, the minister said the ministry had lined up a series of more Town Hall meetings across the country.
With the breakdown of societal core values in the past year, Mohammed said that the ministry also initiated a national reorientation campaign entitled “Change Begins With Me’’ to restore the time tested values.
Mohammed said the campaign, inaugurated by the president on September 8, aimed at “achieving a paradigm shift in the way we do things and geared towards achieving attitudinal change’’.
He said the campaign would be inaugurated in all the states with the support of governors and would also be taken down to the grassroots and schools.
Similarly, he said the nation made history on April 30 with the successful inauguration of the pilot phase of Digital Broadcasting Switch Over in Jos.
He said the event was monumental considering the fact that the country had missed two previous switch-over deadlines.
“What we have dreamt of, imagined, attempted and what even seemed impossible at a stage, happened right before our very eyes.
“The journey that started in 2004, when the International Telecommunications Union Council adopted Resolution 1185 on transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting, is finally nearing its destination.
“When we came in, we found that everyone seemed to be working at cross purposes and the postponement of the pilot scheme seemed inevitable.
“But we said no, especially because we have missed two previous switch-over deadlines.
“We put our shoulder to the wheel and here we are! Now, we are ready to go from city to city until we have covered the entire length and breadth of our country by the June 2017 deadline,” he said.
Mohammed said that the ministry was targeting 30 million viewers across the country, which would make Nigeria the biggest free television market in the world.
He said, when completed, the switch over would revolutionise the broadcast landscape and architecture, democratised the right to be informed and also become the much-needed panacea to the menace of piracy dogging the music and movie industries.
The minister noted that the directive to all licensed Set Top Box manufacturers to establish manufacturing companies in the country to produce the boxes locally would create massive employment and ensure the transfer of technology.
The minister noted that the ministry had similarly developed the tourism sector, announcing that he had secured a two-year technical assistance programme with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to boost the sector.
He said the agreement also included, granting of unlimited access to designated Nigerian officials to the UNWTO’s e-library, and seconding of relevant Nigerian officials to the organisation’s headquarters under their internship programme.
“The UNWTO will soon deploy a needs-assessment mission to Nigeria, to be followed by the deployment of experts to train tourism officials.
“In the area of capacity building, the focus will be on the empowerment of women in tourism through the centres being planned for the six geo-political zones.
“They will help in training tour guides and festival managers while they have agreed on a special training workshop for tourism correspondents in Nigeria,’’ he said.
The minister insisted that the ministry had achieved more in the Culture, Tourism and the Creative sector of its portfolio.
He said among other sectors identified by the government as the veritable sources of revenue in the diversification programme were culture, tourism and the creative sector.
Mohammed said that the ministry had been, in the past one year, to move these sectors from the margins to the mainstream and ensure that the rural poor, in particular, were factored into the sector’s scheme of things.
Conscious of the challenges involved in repositioning the sectors and the need to carry along the strategic stakeholders in the reform process, he said the ministry called a national Summit on Culture and Tourism in April which he said was inaugurated by Buhari.
He said that in line with the decision reached at the summit, the ministry was far gone in the process of resuscitation of Presidential Council on Tourism, to lead the reform in the sector.
Mohammed also recalled that the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the British Council and the Tony Elumelu Foundation to create employment opportunities and promote sustainable grassroots development.
The Minister said that the agreement with the British Council signed in August in Edinburg, Scotland, aimed at reviving dormant cultural festivals and traditional games in the country.
“The agreement signed with the Chief Executive of the British Council, Sir Ciaran Devane, includes partnership to help train festival managers, revive the country’s major festivals and prevent traditional games from dying.
The minister said that the agreement with Tony Elumelu Foundation signed in October in Lagos aimed at transforming the creative industry to a source of foreign exchange earnings for the country.
He said that the areas of collaboration in the agreement included the creation of an enabling business environment for the creative industries with such incentives as easy access to finance.
Mohammed explained that the agreement included the structuring of the creative industries to enable it generate independent revenues locally and also boost exports to increase Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.
Considering the numerous achievements enumerated by the minister, concerned citizens observe that the ministry has done a lot in the development of the country.
They, therefore, urge the public to support the programmes of the Federal Government as presented by the Federal Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
Ijikanmi writes for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
FG Recorded N150.36bn Fiscal Deficit In April – CBN
The Federal Government recorded a fiscal deficit of N150.36bn in April, after recording an aggregate expenditure of N559.67bn and retained revenue of N409.31bn.
Figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s April report on ‘Fiscal operations of the Federal Government’ revealed at the weekend.
The report shows that the federal revenue rose by 28.2 per cent in April 2021 to N1.12tn in relation to N862.79bn in March 2021, due to improvement in non-oil earnings.
It also shows that the provisional aggregate expenditure of the FGN put at N559.67bn was 50.6 per cent below the budget benchmark and 59.4 per cent short of the level in March 2021.
Also, the fiscal operations of the Federal Government in April 2021, according to the report, contracted by 67.8 per cent, relative to the budget estimate.
Part of the report read “Federation revenue rose by 28.2 per cent in April 2021 to N1.12tn, relative to N862.79bn in March 2021, owing to improved non-oil earnings.
“However, the retained revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria at N409.31bn, was 38.5 per cent below target.
“Similarly, the provisional aggregate expenditure of the FGN, at N559.67bn, was 50.6 per cent below the budget benchmark and 59.4 per cent short of the level in March 2021.
“Consequently, the fiscal operations of the FGN in April 2021 contracted by 67.8 per cent, relative to the budget estimate.”
It added that the FGN debt outstanding, as of the end-March 2021, stood at N28,984.3bn and represented a 15.8 per cent increase, relative to its level in March 2021.
TSA Promotes Transparency, Accountability In Revenue Collection In Kebbi – Chairman
Alhaji Iliyasu Arzuka-Jega, Chairman, Kebbi State Board of Internal Revenue, has said that the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA) has encouraged accuracy, efficiency and accountability in revenue collection in the state.
Arzuka-Jega stated this at a news conference yesterday in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital.
The Tide source reports that TSA is a public accounting system whereby government receipt, revenue and income are collected into one single account.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is responsible for the maintenance and management on such account.
It was proposed by the Federal Government in 2012 and fully implemented by the Buhari led-administration.
Arzuka-Jega said that the introduction of digital revenue collection techniques assisted the board towards simplifying its work more convenient and easy.
He said that, “We are now in the era of technology, all our collections have been upgraded from manual to digital.
“In this circumstances, we found it necessary not to be left behind towards ensuring that leakages are blocked and revenues collected enter into government’s coffers.
“All our collections have now been centralised because we operate Single Treasury Account (TSA), where all revenue realised go in there, this has put an end to divertion of fund.”
The Chairman said that the board had recorded significant impact of TSA since inception, as against previous years when revenue collections whether external or internal were done manually.
He said that the manual method of revenue collction was fraught with irregularities which resulted to situation where fund could not be accounted for.
“Now, we do receive payments from Lagos and other states, and we only see evidence of payments made to our platform under the TSA,” he said.
NNPC Explains 2020 Audited Report
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has explained the controversial areas of its 2020 audited financial report that placed the corporation on a profit lane.
It would be recalled that on August 26, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a profit after tax of N287billion by the corporation in 2020, the first of its kind in the oil giant’s 44-year history.
This feat, which was commended by Buhari, had also won the Group Managing Director of the corporation,MalamMeleKyari-led management accolades from stakeholders and Nigerians from all walks of life.
Kyari, however, explained how the corporation’s performance turned out positive at a time the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic affected businesses worldwide.
Also, the Group Executive Director, Finance & Accounts, Mr Umar Ajiya, also shed more light on the development, and equally addressed some of the issues raised by those who doubt the veracity of the profit declared by the corporation.
He said the trend of real openness has begun not only in the NNPC but also in the Nigerian petroleum industry, especially with the signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
Ajiya said that during the period under review, the NNPC took some unprecedented steps among which was cost optimisation aimed at refocusing its businesses.
Also, in the week, the Nigerian Gas Marketing Company Limited (NGMC), a subsidiary of NNPC, restated its commitment to the development of its host communities.
The Managing Director of the company, Mr Justin Ezeala, made the commitment at the opening ceremony of the Women Skills Acquisition Programme for its host communities in its northern operations.
He said NGMC was committed to developing a robust sustainable relationship with all its host communities, and disclosed that the beneficiaries were carefully nominated by executives of their respective communities and would undergo intensive three-week training in catering, tailoring/fashion design, hairdressing and make-up (including pedicure, manicure andgele tying).
He tasked the host communities on the sustenance of the existing peaceful relationship while assuring them of the company’s continued support.
Addressing the beneficiaries, the Lead Consultant, Bernard Emekpe, said the programme was a testament to NNPC’s vision of engaging the communities in which it operates.
He advised the beneficiaries to see this as a lifetime opportunity and take control of their destiny.
A representative of the host communities, Otokina Goodluck, and some of the beneficiaries said the program was a life-changing opportunity, and promised to make judicious use of it.
The beneficiaries were drawn from Ajaokuta, Geregu, and Aku communities in Kogi State.
Meanwhile, the Republic of Norway has commended the Federal Government on the successful signing of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).
The Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Knut EilivLein, gave the commendation during a business visit to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva in Abuja.
He said they were delighted at the signing of the bill which he said would accelerate development and strengthen the oil and gas industry.
On his part, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said the difference between past efforts and the eventual PIB that was passed by the National Assembly was that all industry stakeholders, including government agencies were carried along.
Still, on the week under review, the GMD was conferred the BusinessDay Energy Executive of the Year Award by BusinessDay Newspaper Management in recognition of his giant strides in repositioning the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
Receiving the award in Abuja, Kyari said the trust by Buhari was the propelling force behind the many achievements recorded in the nation’s oil and gas sector within the last two years.
He described his position and the confidence that he enjoys from the President as a privilege, stressing that he and members of his management team were working hard to justify the trust in the interest of the nation and to the benefit of Nigerians.
He attributed the transformation and recent profit by the corporation to quality leadership and prudent management of resources, noting that it was part of his efforts towards keeping the trust.
The GMD stated that the corporation’s courage to publish its 2018 Audited Financial Statement with a huge loss was in line with his management resolve to be transparent and accountable to the public, emphasizing that the success story of ¦ 287billion profit in the 2020 financials was a result of the determination to do things differently.
The NNPC helmsman, while appreciating the management of BusinessDay Media Limited for the award, declared, “As the biggest company with the largest assets in Africa, NNPC has no reason not to make a profit.”
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of BusinessDay Media Limited, Dr Ogho Okiti, said globally acceptable parameters were adopted in selecting the awardees.
“In addition, our Business Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU) in conjunction with our Oil and Gas Editorial Team have carefully analysed the data available on each company as well as their work programme recorded with the DPR for the period between 2019 and 2020 to arrive the selection”, he said.
Also speaking, the Father of the Day, King Alfred Papa Preye Diete-Spiff, acknowledged the contributions of the oil and gas industry to national development, and called for diversification of the economy.
For piloting the corporation into the post-Petroleum Industry Act era, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) pledged its unalloyed support for the management of the NNPC.
The Group Chairman, PENGASSAN, Comrade Victor Odor, disclosed this during a courtesy visit to the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division (GPAD), GarbaDeen Muhammad, in his office in Abuja.
Odor, who said the visit was to felicitate with the corporation’s spokesman on his appointment, declared that the union would stop at nothing to defend the corporation’s current position as a profit-making company against those who believe that NNPC could never do well, adding that the NNPC GMD and his management team have done well in repositioning the corporation and deserved support.
He said the union would focus more on functional conflict management than disruptive conflict management in its constructive engagement with the management to ensure sustainable growth and profitability for the corporation.
Responding, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, GarbaDeen Muhammad, who appreciated the union leaders for the kind gesture, said the GMD was very passionate about repositioning the corporation and the entire oil and gas industry.
He assured the union leaders that management was appreciative of their support and was always ready to work with them to take the corporation to greater heights.
The Group Chairman of PENGASSAN was accompanied on the visit by the Group Vice Chairman, Comrade EghosaAghimien, and Group Secretary of PENGASSAN, Comrade OlugbengaShokunbi.
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