The scorecard of Lai Mohammed as Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister

Solomon Chung, Abuja 

Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

As the second tenure of the President Mohammadu Buhari-led government begins, there is the need to highlight the scorecard of one of the critical players in the Administration’s operations.

One man, and the ministry he superintended over, played a pivotal role in the delivery of this administration’s performance.

This Man and that Ministry, are none other than Mr. Lai Mohammed and the Information and Culture Ministry.

Several strategies were used to run both the culture and information arms of the ministry, and the Minister ensured that all stakeholders were part and parcel of the project.

The minister forged a relationship that formed the very basis of the successes recorded in the various departments, agencies and the ministry itself.

Putting into perspective the activities of the Ministry under the watch of Mr. Lai Mohammed, it would be safe to say that his reign was thorough; the ideas well-thought-out; activities all inclusive, and above all, the results measurable and crystal clear for all to see.

The Minister ensured competency in the handling of his mandate.

One of the major issues the administration encountered on assumption of office was the insecurity challenges.

To hit the ground running, Lai Mohammed began his mission with strategic information management of the insurgency, with a view to putting out the correct narrative, as against the false narrative and propaganda that was regularly churned out by the enemies of the state. It also aimed to motivate the military.

This particular mission took the man with his team of journalists to the North East where the insurgency group, boko haram held sway, and that visit eventually gave birth to the launch of the National Security Awareness and Sensitization Campaign tagged, ‘If you see something, say something’, which enjoyed massive followership amongst the citizenry.

In a bid to close any communication gap between the government and its citizens, the Ministry under his leadership launched the Town Hall meeting series where government, interacted directly with the citizenry and gained feedback that could bring about the desired change and impact. 
About 16 of these Town Hall meetings have been held effectively across all the 6 geo-political zones of the country.

Also realizing the need to project Nigeria positively to the global community, the Ministry made hosting bids and successfully hosted some critical international events.

Some of those conferences were the World Congress of the International Press Institute as well as the Africa Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization which were all successfully held in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja in 2018.

Another great feat recorded by Mr. Lai Mohammed was the launching of the Digital Switch Over of the country’s analogue broadcast systems across some states.

As the Nigerian government invested in infrastructure such as roads, rails, housing, power, water, and other sectors, over the past four years, the Ministry of Information and Culture under the leadership of the Minister ensured that these infrastructural projects across the country were strategically and deliberately showcased to the world.

Worthy of note also is one of the biggest projects conceptualized, which was the launch of the National Campaign against Fake News and Hate Speech on the 11th of July 2018.

With the campaign, the phenomenon was eventually and successfully taken to the front burner of national discourse in Nigeria, with the aim to curtail it.

The Information Ministry, under the watch of Mr. Lai Mohammed successfully engaged with the International media and think tanks, with a view to projecting the achievements of the Buhari-led administration and put some of the negative and false narratives in the international media space in their true perspectives.

In conjunction with one of its agencies, the National Orientation Agency, the Ministry launched the ‘Change begins with me’ campaign which was a massive concept aimed at behavioral change and development.

In the area of Culture and Tourism, the Minister made his mark in so many respects.

The National Summit on Culture and Tourism was the first major strategic event organized by the Minister on assumption of duty, which was aimed at repositioning the industry for greater development. It did not just stop there, lots of other conferences, workshops and roundtables followed suit.

Mr. Mohammed’s passion for the Culture and Tourism sector can clearly be felt through his symbiotic relationship with relevant global bodies.

For example, his close working relationship with the United Nations World Tourism Organization as well as other stakeholders formed the basis of the successes recorded in the tourism and culture arms of the Ministry during his reign.

It is on record that the global tourism agency worked with the Ministry to resuscitate the country’s Tourism Master Plan, which is the bedrock of tourism development in every standard, particularly international best practices.

Against the backdrop of his symbiotic relationship with the UN agency, Nigeria was awarded the hosting right of the UNWTO CAF Meeting in 2018, and the Minister was elected as Vice President of the global tourism body to represent the country.

Again, the unrelenting Minister took advantage of his international networks to enhance the Television industry. For example, in collaboration with China, Mr. Lai Mohammed facilitated the launch of a project to provide satellite TV for 1000 villages across Nigeria.

It is therefore right to say that in the last three and a half years, Mr. Mohammed displayed intuitive passion for the development of the Information and Tourism sector.

As far as the stewardship of the sector is concerned, the man  Lai Mohammed brought to bear, his wealth of experience, knowledge, wisdom, and service to the nation.

With the level of achievements recorded in spite of the paucity of funds, it goes to show that with improved funding, better feats could be recorded.

Government is a continuum, and whoever succeeds Mr. Lai Mohammed as Information and Culture Minister must maintain the pace, as well as deploy the same doggedness and passion, with additional finesse, to actualize the overall goal set by the incoming administration for its second term.