The Information and Culture Minister, Mr. Lai Mohammed, has re-assured Nigerian journalists that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government would not muzzle the online media publications in the country but will on the contrary patronise them, according to Premium Times report.
This, according to the minister, is because the president strongly believes that the online publishers are responsible enough to regulate themselves. They are aware of the social responsibility of the media.
Mohammed, who gave the re-assurance on Friday when he met with Online Publishers in Lagos, in continuation of his ongoing consultation with practitioners in the Information and Culture sector, however told the publishers to ensure that they maintain their credibility.
”If the online publications suffer credibility problems, they stand the risk of losing the confidence of their readers and the advertisers who provide the lifeblood for the publications’ survival,” he said.
Mohammed noted that while the number of online publications was bound to grow in the days ahead, only the credible ones would continue to enjoy patronage, either from the readers or from the advertisers.
Therefore, according to him, it was in the interest of government that online publications continue to grow in number”because the more the number of such online publications, the easier it becomes to bridge the information gap between the government and the governed, and the easier it becomes for the government to carry the citizens along in the formulation and implementation of policies that touch on their lives”.
He promised that the Federal Government would patronize the online publications through adverts, adding that ”all we ask for, in return, is that you provide accurate information to the people, and avoid sensationalism and partisanship”.
He sought the publishers’ support to ensure the success of the various campaigns that have either being launched or are about to be launched by the Federal Government.
”The National Security Awareness Campaign, aimed at rallying the support of Nigerians for the war on terror, is ongoing. Also, the National Sensitization Campaign against Corruption was formally launched in Abuja on Monday, and it is aimed at rallying Nigerians against the cankerworm of corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric of our society.
We are also preparing to launch a National Re-orientation Campaign, which is tagged ‘Change Begins With Me’, to achieve a paradigm shift in the way we do things,” he said.
He said that the war against corruption is one of the cardinal programmes of the Buhari Administration, but regretted that “Some have said the government is dwelling too much on the war against corruption to the detriment of other areas of governance. Our response to that is that indeed, there is nothing like dwelling too much on this war, which is a war of survival for our nation.
“The situation is grim, very grim indeed, as far as corruption is concerned. That is why the Federal Government is embarking on this sensitization Campaign Our approach is not to vilify anyone but to use facts and figures to give Nigerians a sense of the cost of corruption,” the minister said.
The minister said that corruption is the strongest variable in the socio-economic problems that have assailed this country adding that the fact that the country’s budget had grown consistently from just over N900 billion in 1999 to over N6 trillion in 2016; poverty has also grown almost in direct proportion.
“The simple reason is that appropriated funds have ended up in the pockets of a few,” he said.
Mohammed, who also gave a comparative analysis of the number of those who benefited from the funds allegedly collected from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and funds allocated for the 2015 Zonal Intervention Projects, said ”the amount received by 21 individuals and companies from ONSA is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by N2.829 billion.”
“Whereas the sum of N51.829 billion was appropriated for 1,278 projects in the Zonal Intervention Projects for 2015, a total of 21 individuals and companies benefited from the Dasukigate to the tune of N54.659 billion as we know so far.
“The implication, therefore, is that the amount received by 21 individuals and companies is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by N2.829 billion.
Furthermore, the value of what beneficiaries of Dasukigate contributed to development is zero, compared to how the lives of Nigerians would have been transformed, poverty reduced and livelihoods improved by the Zonal Intervention Projects which would have cost 2.829 billion Naira less than Dasukigate.
He appealed to the online publishers to support the war against corruption by ensuring that Nigerians are well informed about the evils of corruption, saying: “This is not Buhari’s war. This is not APC’s war. This is Nigeria’s war and failure is not an option.”