The House of Representatives has summoned Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, over the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.
Recall that the minister, last week, announced the suspension of the microblogging platform’s operations in Nigeria after the platform deleted a controversial civil war post by President Muhammadu Buhari, threatening violence against separatist agitators.
At its sitting on Tuesday, the House mandated its committees on communication, justice, information and culture, and national security and intelligence to immediately commence an investigation into the suspension of the microblogging site.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has assured Nigerians that the Federal Government is handling the problem of insecurity in the country.
He said the insinuation in some quarters that the government was clueless was unfounded, adding that the result of government’s efforts would soon be evident.
A statement said the minister spoke on Tuesday during a press briefing in Lagos.
He said, “It is no longer news that our dear nation is facing security challenges. However, I have read comments saying the Federal Government is overwhelmed and doesn’t have a clue as to how to tackle the challenges. Some have even gone as far as suggesting a truncation of the democratic order, a clearly treasonable stance.
“Well, I am here today to assure all Nigerians that while the government acknowledges the security challenges we face at this time, from terrorism to kidnapping, banditry and farmer-herder conflict, it is definitely not overwhelmed and indeed it has the wherewithal, as you will see in the days ahead, to confront the challenges headlong and restore law and order, peace and security.
Mohammed explained that the government indeed knew the locations of kidnappers, adding that security agencies were only being careful to avoid civilian casualties.
“One of the most difficult things to do, for a democratically-elected government, is to use the instruments of coercion against its own people. For example, while the nation’s military have superior firepower over the rag tag band of Boko Haram and ISWA, the terrorists most often than not operate among the populace, either in our villages or towns, hence the military, in tackling them, is usually careful to avoid collateral damage.
“The same applies to the kidnappers who abduct our school children. Usually, the location of the kidnappers is not unknown to security forces, but they still have to exercise caution in order not to hurt the same children they are trying to rescue. Despite these inhibitions, the security forces have the wherewithal to decisively tackle the challenges,” he added.
He lamented the attacks on security agencies in some parts of the country, saying they were a declaration of war.
With growing insecurity across the country, secessionist agitations and ethno-religious crisis, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has warned that Nigeria is heading for the brink, urging that there is an urgent need to pull it back.
“Despite huge human and material resources the country is heading for the brinks and there is an urgent need to pull it back from this catastrophe,” he said in a letter inviting leaders of opinion to a town hall meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Kaduna.
Also concerned by the raging strife across the land, the Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd)-led National Peace Committee (NPC) is also convening a meeting today in Abuja to discuss the way forward. Nigeria has recently witnessed increasing insecurity, leading to the killing of security agents and innocent citizens by bandits.
The security crisis has made many Nigerians and members of the international community to express concerns about the state of the nation. Mohammed, in a letter, inviting prominent Nigerians for a town hall meeting in Kaduna tomorrow said the manifestations of the general state of insecurity in the country, especially with secessionist narrative, crass politicisation of ethnic and religious differences need to be addressed urgently. He said with the situation, the country is heading for the brink.
He said: “As you may observe, Nigeria has failed to manage its diversity. Despite huge human and material resources the country is heading for the brink and there is an urgent need to pull it back from this catastrophe.
“Increasingly, we are seeing this lack of capacity to manage our diversity manifesting in a general state of insecurity as witnessed in the heightened incidences of farmers/herders clashes, Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, ethno-religious clashes and intolerance, cultism, drug addiction and kidnapping.
“Closely tied to all these are the dangerous threat to the unity of the country and its continued existence as one indivisible nation. But the story of Nigeria has not always been this negative. How did we get here and what can we do to change the narrative to present our country in the best of light? This requires teamwork, reflecting all diversities, leveraging on all our collective creativity to pursue with diligence the project of rescuing Nigeria.’’
Mohammed added that the correct starting point towards addressing the problems is building an elite consensus on the security, unity, indissolubility and peaceful existence of Nigeria. He said such elite consensus had worked in the past and there is a need to find out why it is not working again as well as to proffer solutions because Nigeria is truly at a tipping point.
In the invitation letters sent to many opinion moulders nationwide, the minister said a broad-based and inclusive town hall meeting has been fixed for Kaduna tomorrow to discuss some of the manifestations of the general state of insecurity in the country, especially with secessionist narrative, crass politicisation of ethnic and religious differences.
“The proposed town hall meeting will aim at developing concrete implementable resolutions because a lot of theoretical talks and postulation had taken place with little or no requisite outcome. “The event will be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari. Reputable scholar, Prof. Jibril Ibrahim, will be the lead presenter and will set the tone for discussion with Prof. Saka Nuru, Prof. Chudi Uwazurike and Prof Kokunre Eghafonaas as guest discussants,’’ the letter stated.
The meeting is expected to be attended by the leadership of the legislature, governors, ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, service chiefs, Inspector-General of Police, heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders and members of the international community amongst others.
Similarly, the Abdulsalami-led peace committee has also scheduled a meeting of prominent leaders for today in Abuja to address what it described as the “escalating spate of insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, regional agitations, the killing of innocent citizens and other forms of violence.’’ It added that the vexed issues have continued to cause deep concern to well-meaning citizens at home and abroad. NPC said it had been receiving requests from Nigerians, urging it to intervene. (ThisDay)
The Federal Government has declared it won’t pay ransom to secure the release of abducted students and teachers of Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, stated this on Saturday while featuring on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ monitored by The Eagleonline.
He was reacting to speculations and reports that the Federal Government was prepared to exchange the abductees for huge ransom.
But when asked on Saturday whether the government had paid ransom or was considering the payment of ransom, the minister said, “No”.
He said: “We employ kinetic and non-kinetic (measures), you don’t throw away invitation to engage but the overall strategy you keep to your chest.”
The Minister also said the government won’t tolerate any form of criminality in any form.
He said: “Bandits all over the world work with psychology of people. Deliberately, they target women and children because this is what will attract a lot of global outcry. That is exactly what bandits do all over the world.
“The government has put in place, all along, various strategies to contain banditry, to fight insurgency, to fight kidnapping. Some of these measures are kinetic, some are not kinetic. We didn’t get here overnight and that is why it is difficult to get out one day.
“Criminality in any form will not be tolerated by government. At the same time, government has a duty to look at the underlining causes of some of these criminalities in other to address them.
“I was in Minna with my colleagues, the Ministers of Interior and Police Affairs, the IG, and the National Security Adviser on Wednesday to get firsthand information on the abduction of these Kagara schoolboys. I can tell you that as at today that the government is on top of the matter.” (Eagle News online)
The people of Oro land in the Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State and kinsmen of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, have issued a seven-day ultimatum to herdsmen in Okerimi-Oro community to relocate to ensure security in the area.
The community under the aegis of Oro Descendants Union, in a statement titled, ‘We reject unlawful occupation of land in our community by Bororo/Fulani’, signed by the National President and National Publicity Secretary of the union, Alhaji Uthman Balogun and Mr. Kayode Adeyipo respectively, said that the herdsmen allegedly evicted from Oyo State, had occupied Okerimi-Oro community since the last week of January, 2021.
The people, who alleged that some traditional rulers in nearby communities connived with the herdsmen and purportedly signed an agreement to have them settled in their area, said the traditional rulers “discreetly brought the herdsmen to Okerimi-Oro land to settle”.
The 11 constituents of Oro kingdom are Okerimi-Oro, Ijomu-Oro, Aafin-Oro, Ido-Oro, Agbeola-Oro, Okeola-Oro, Iludun-Oro, Irebode-Oro, Oro, Sie and Olorunsogo.
“The site where the Bororo/Fulani herdsmen are occupying now is part of Koshoni-Ola Farmland in Okerimi-Oro. Everyone became scared, nervous and agitated, demanding that they should be sent away from our locality because of their reported, evidence-based nefarious activities, which included kidnapping, maiming of innocent citizens, robberies and destruction of farmland. And to our knowledge, it is not the company that invited them.
“The signed document had with the Aala of Ilala community and Baale of Buari community, the signatures of nine leaders of Bororo/Fulani, Seriki Fulani in Ajase-Ipo and Chairman of Miyetti Allah in Irepodun Local Government Area.
“The peace pact was witnessed by zonal heads of security agencies, including Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps,” the group added.
It noted that everything was without the knowledge of the people of Oro land, adding, “We are not party to it and we can’t be a party to any of such arrangements. Our people are vehemently against it, they had long kicked against it.”
Describing the act as disheartening and disgusting, the union said, “Can a house owner collect rent from anyone and direct the person to another man’s house to be received as tenant after signing tenancy agreement with him (i.e. the payer)? Buhari and Ilala are not part of Oro.
“We now implore Buari and Ilala to come and relocate Bororo/Fulani to their own land, which must be far away from our vicinity. And this must be done on or before the expiration of seven (7) days counting from today, Tuesday, February 16, 2021.” (Punch)
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Olusola Fabiyi and Friday Olokor
The Federal Government said on Sunday that its whistle-blower policy had started yielding fruits.
It said the policy had so far led to the recovery of over $151m (N46bn) and N8bn in looted funds.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this in a statement.
The minister said the looted funds, which did not include the $9.2m in cash allegedly owned by a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, were recovered from just three sources through whistle-blowers who he said gave actionable information to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami(SAN).
He said that the $9.2m cash and others, were also dividends of the whistle-blower policy.
The minister said that the biggest amount of $136,676,600.51 (N42bn) was recovered from an account in a commercial bank, where he said money was kept under an apparently fake account name.
This, he said, was followed by N7bn and $15m from another person and N1bn from yet another.
Mohammed said, ‘’When we told Nigerians that there was a primitive and mindless looting of the national treasury under the last administration, some people called us liars.
“Well, the whistle-blower policy is barely two months old and Nigerians have started feeling its impact, seeing how a few people squirrelled away public funds.
“It is doubtful if any economy in the world will not feel the impact of such mind-boggling looting of the treasury as was experienced in Nigeria.
‘’Yet, whatever has been recovered so far, including the $9.2m by the EFCC, is just a tip of the iceberg.’’
He appealed to Nigerians with useful information on looted funds to continue to provide the authorities with such information, saying confidentiality would be maintained with regard to the source of the information.
The minister also reminded Nigerians of the financial reward aspect of the policy, saying ‘’If there is a voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets on the account of the information provided, the whistle-blower may be entitled to between 2.5 per cent (minimum) and 5 per cent (maximum) of the total amount recovered.’’
Meanwhile, some human rights groups – the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project and the Campaign for Democracy – have called on the Federal Government to show value for the recovered loot by immediately injecting it into the economy.
The SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the Federal Government must immediately inject the loot back into the economy so that Nigerians could feel the socio-economic impact.
He said, “We are not just looking at recovery for recovery sake. We want whatsoever is recovered to be pumped immediately into the economy. What will be the benefits of Nigerians from recovered loot? Is it recovery to keep in personal purses or to inject into the economy?
“The critical areas of our economy include building infrastructural facilities and the Federal Government should immediately deploy these funds.
“Another area is that if the loot was recovered as a result of the whistle-blower initiative, the government must keep to its promise. You will recall that when the idea came up, it was promised that if a whistle-blower gives information and it leads to the recovery of sums of money, compensation will be given to the whistle-blower. I hope the government would not go back on that. I think the whistle-blower policy should continue.”
The CD President, Bako Usman, said, “It is very unfortunate that the Federal Government has been recovering loot without meaningful development. Such recovery can take care of some of our debts, provision of social amenities and others. Up till now, we have not seen the value of the recovered loot. The government must work on this.”
Also, the Executive Secretary Anti-corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, noted that the whistle-blower policy was yielding positive results.
He stated, “I have a concern about what follows the recovery. Is it that we secretly collected back the loot and let go the looters without serving any deterrence, or worse still, we do not want such looters name to be known to the public?
“That will be a gross disservice to the intention of the anti-corruption fight. What is worth doing at all, is worth doing well. Everyone who has participated in the disgraceful act of national sabotage, betrayal of trust and blatant thievery of our common patrimony should be exposed.”
Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development, has identified inappropriate use of funds as one of the problems affecting national development in Nigeria.
The USAID Senior Planning and Program Adviser (Health Population and Nutrition Office), Celestine Carr, stated this in Abuja during the closing ceremony of a five-day workshop on Health care Financing which was organised by USAID in collaboration with Health Finance and Governance, a non-governmental organisation.
Carr said the USAID was committed to supporting the efforts of the Nigerian government in preventing women and children from falling victims of preventable diseases, by injecting more funds to increase universal health coverage to all citizens.
She said, “One of the challenges that the government has had both in national and state levels is inappropriately use of existing funds. Existing funds can be used in a way that will go a long way if it is used appropriately.
“If funding does dry up (we don’t know if it will, but we are going through a period of economic challenges), we should be able to budget the current funding more appropriately. So, we can access the means and access the drugs and human resources that are needed for Nigerians to be healthy and strong and be able to be more productive.”
The Sokoto State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Shehu Kakale, said allocation of the 15 per cent of the budget to health by both the federal and state governments as proposed by the Abuja Declaration, was the key to achieving national development.
“The 15 per cent will go a long way if the Federal Government and state governments implement it all across board. It means that more children and more women will be healthier. There will be healthy adults in the workforce and of course the productive workforce of the country will earn more revenue for the country.”
Kakale further called for the operationalisation of the National Health Act of 2014, which stipulates that one per cent consolidated fund of the country should be dedicated to primary health care.
The commissioner maintained that such action would turn around health care financing and more importantly, the landscape of primary health care which was responsible for about 80 per cent of health products consumed in the country.
The Chief of Party, Health Finance and Governance, Dr. Gafar Alawode, disclosed that universal health coverage could only be achieved through the establishment of State Health Insurance Schemes throughout the country.
“The states should have their own support health insurance; but to achieve that, we need to put in place structures. To that end, we are supporting the states on how best to place the structures for health insurance,” he stressed.
He also called for appropriate use of funds, saying “financing alone is not the problem, even in the little amount of money the states are spending, probably there are better ways of spending the money to achieve better results.” (Punchng.com)