By Rotimi Ijikanmi
London – The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said on Wednesday in London that information dissemination in a complex landscape like Nigeria required dynamic mechanism.
The Minister made this known while making a presentation at the Chatham House – a UK based Royal Institute of International Affairs – on the theme, “Nigeria’s National Unity: Towards Participation and Shared Values”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the global body has the objectives, ‘to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world, through informed debate, independent analysis, new policy ideas, and outreach to audiences”
Mohammed noted that right information dissemination is key to forming national consensus, cohesion in a multi national state like Nigeria.
He said his ministry charged with the responsibilities of speaking for the federal government both within and outside the country has been taking its mandate very seriously.
Mohammed said his ministry played pivotal role in confronting a major challenge of fighting insurgency in the country.
“The insurgency that started in 2009 had taken its toll on the country by the time we assumed office.
“The President ordered the relocation of the military campaign against the insurgents to the North-east, and rallied regional and international support for the battle.
“Shortly thereafter, the insurgents were dislodged from the territories they occupied, and they lost their capacity to freely attack cities or seize territories
Mohammed said that in order to carry the people along and get them to buy into the government’s effort in fighting terrorism, he led over 30 local and foreign journalists to the liberated parts of the North-East in December, 2018.
He said the visit afforded the journalists the opportunity to see things for themselves, and to convey such to Nigerians to change the way they viewedinsurgency,
The minister added that to rally national support for the military and enlist Nigerians’ support for the efforts to reduce the cowardly suicide bombings of soft targets, his ministry launches the campaign ‘If you see something, say something’.
To grow democracy in the country, Mohammed said his ministry introduced Town Hall Meeting, for citizens to directly participate in decision and policies affecting their lives.
“So far, we have held 13 of such meetings, spread across the nation’s six geo-political zones and covering various topics.
“Many more are slated to hold between now and the general elections in February and March 2019 ” he said.
Mohammed said the Buhari administration embarked on an unprecedented renewal of the nation’s infrastructure, investing an unprecedented N2.7 trillion on roads, rails, power and other similar projects.
He said for the public to know the extent and spread of such projects to foster a sense of national unity, he embarked on a nationwide tour of the Federal Government projects with journalists.
“Till date, we have inspected many of such projects, including the new Lagos to Kano standard gauge rail line, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway in the Southwest that connects the port city of Lagos to other parts of the country
“We also inspected the new intra-city rail line connecting the Abuja city centre to the international Airport, the Enugu-Port Harcourt freeway in the South-east and the Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa road in central Nigeria,” he said
The minister said that the ministry launched the FGNiApp, downloadable on mobile devices, to provide up-to-date information about government’s projects and policies to the people, irrespective of where they are.
He said the ministry played pivotal role in the dissemination of efforts made by government in the release of the women and children abducted by the Boko Haram.
“It is important to say that we have regularly met with the various media stakeholders in Nigeria, to discuss with them government policies and programmes.
“These groups include the umbrella Nigeria Union of Journalists, Online publishers, bloggers and social media influencers, Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON), Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), etc.
“We have also gone beyond the shores of Nigeria to meet with the global media, policy think tanks and decision makers, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States,” he said.
Mohammed said that his ministry launched a national campaign against fake news and hate speech to tackle the phenomenon which had the capacity to tear the country apart.
“The aim is to sensitize Nigerians to the dangers posed by fake news, how to spot fake news and what to do.
We are under no illusion that the campaign can immediately stop fake news and hate speech.
But we want to bring the issues to the front burner of national discourse. And I can say that we are succeeding in that respect.
“Today, fake news has become a topical issue in Nigeria. To Nigerians, we say: If you can’t vouch for the veracity of any news item, don’t share it!” he said.
He reiterated that the administration had strived to be as dynamic as possible in the provision of information to the people. (NAN)