Lawmaker decries inadequate funding of Information sector

Solomon Chung, Abuja

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Nigeria's Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed.

A member of the House of Representative, Anneitte Umuana has called for more funding of the information sector.

Umuana, who is a member of the House committee on Information, Ethics, Value and National Orientation, disclosed this when the Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed defended the Ministry’s budget before the committee in Abuja on Wednesday.

Inadequate resources
He particularly condemned a situation where such sensitive ministry is allocated inadequate resources to handle very critical operations.

The Parliamentarian also decried the zero allocation for the portion meant for research and development.

According to him, government must put money in the right place.

Speaking during the budget defense, the Minister reechoed the need for more funding.

“We suffer grossly from inadequate funding because we run advocacy campaigns for the entire Nigerian government as a body.

“The last time we did 16 town hall meetings. The town hall meetings provide a platform for government and the governed to exchange views and we often use it to test the pulse of the nation.

“We run a campaign against fake news and hate speech; we also run a campaign in support of our military.

“We will continue to run more campaigns and advocacies and it is not limited to home alone, we take such advocacy abroad also,” he said.

Mr Mohammed said anytime the polity is being overheated the Ministry travel abroad to tell the true perspectives of the stories being churned out.

“We need more money to execute our mandate. We have achieved 56 percent from the 2019 budget performance and we intend to do more this year,” he stressed.

The Minister also stated that due to lack of adequate funds, the government was working with the National Orientation Agency’s reports across the country  as well as the ministry’s opinion poll to get some statistics and feedback it can work with for now, pending when allocations are given for research and development.

“We usually have interaction with stakeholders and it involves serious logistics as well. We try to do our best with the meager resources we have, it is an envelope budgeting system so we determine what to put, where based on the needs.

“We pray that the price of crude goes up and revenue goes up to so that we get more money. Meanwhile, in 2020 we have several programs lined up, from advocacy and sensitisation on farmer’s herders clash and so many others,” Mohammed said.

The Minister said the job does come up outside of the budgetary planning and some the activities come up spontaneously.

“For example, we woke up to discover that a rogue company won a judgement against Nigeria to the tune of 9.6 billion, we had to rise to the occasion, and we started with a press conference here in Nigeria. we knew that the case will be decided in the court of law and also a court of public opinion, we then moved the battle to the United Kingdom, we visited all top international  media outfits in the UK to tell our own side of the story.

In 2019, the Ministry of Information and Culture got a capital budget of about N1.5 billion but received the released of 758,355,888 million. For personnel enrollment for 2019 about 3.3 billion and overhead of 880,507,008.

“In 2020 budget the Ministry has overhead of N900,507,008, capital of  N1.1 billion and personnel enrolment of N2.9 billion,” the Minister added.

 

Sammie Idika