…Seeks Collaboration With Goethe Institute In Capacity Building, Heritage Preservation
The Federal Government has assured that it will continue to fight corruption with a strict adherence to the rule of law.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance on Friday when he visited The Nation newspaper as part of his ongoing tour of media establishments in the country.
”In this Administration’s battle against corruption, we have been accused of not respecting the rule of law. I make bold to say that this is not true. The mere fact that those who have been accused of corruption are having their day in court is a reflection of our respect for the rule of law,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed also said the government welcomes the criticism of its policies, programmes and actions, and that it does not consider those who criticize it as either having been paid to do so or that they are habouring any animosity towards us.
But he insisted that there are pseudo-analysts and hack writers whose stock in trade is to shoot down the policies of any government they do not like, and that taking on such people does not amount to an attack on the media.
”It beggars belief that anyone could accuse us of attacking or blackmailing the media. It is inconceivable that a government that has enjoyed tremendous support from the media will turn around to vilify the same media. My recent statement, that pseudo-analysts and hack writers are out to shoot down the war against corruption, cannot and should not be interpreted to mean an attack on the media. That extrapolation will amount to a dangerous stretch,” the Minister said.
The Minister assured that the Federal Government will continue to work closely with the media in keeping the people educated and informed, ”thus ensuring the participation of as many of our people as possible in the process of governance”.
He said the government would not relent in its battle against corruption, adding: ”This is because for our nation, it is a war of survival. Today, in our country, corruption is on first line charge. That’s how serious it is. The good news is that Nigeria is so fortunate to have at the helm of affairs, at this time, a leader of impeccable character, proven integrity, courage, dedication and love of country.
”We need the support of the media to ensure the success of this fight. As I have said at different fora, we consider the media as our partners.”
Alhaji Mohammed said the government’s strategy in sensitizing Nigerians is to dwell on the cost of corruption, rather than talking about it in the abstract.
”When we release figures of the huge sums of money that have been looted, we did not do that to vilify anyone. Rather, our intention is to give Nigerians a different perspective to the anti-graft battle. That’s why we did not mention names, even though we have all the names,” he added.
In another development, the minister has called for collaboration between the ministry and the Goethe Institute, the German Cultural Centre in Nigeria, in the preservation of archival materials, heritage sites and capacity building.
The Minister made the call when he received the Institute’s Director, Marc-Andre Schmachtel, at the National Theatre in Lagos on Friday.
”We need to preserve our heritage in order to boost culture. Some heritage sites are inaccessible while we are rapidly losing others,” he said, adding that the communities in which the heritage sites are situated must also be involved in the preservation efforts.
Alhaji Mohammed also sought the assistance of the Institute in preserving archival materials as well as works of art.
”We have priceless works of arts, but many of them are in bad condition. Unless we get support, we won’t be able to preserve them,” he said.
In the area of capacity building, the Minister, who noted that there is a clear link between culture and tourism, said ”our people lacked the capacity and training” to adequately market the country’s tourism and cultural potentials which, he said, can sustain the country’s economy, at a time of dwindling earnings from oil.
”We need to train them to manage and package the sites to attract global interests,” he said.
Earlier, the Director of the Goethe institute, Mr. Schmachtel, said the institute is collaborating with the Lagos Film Society to conserve and preserve between 150 and 200 films dating back to pre-2014, most of them detailing the country’s history.
He said most the films are in a bad condition and that experts are working to determine how to conserve and preserve them.
Mr. Schmachtel said there were many more areas of possible collaboration between his institute and the Ministry of Information and Culture, and urged the ministry to take advantage of them.