The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has commended the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) for being part of the on-going determined efforts to tackle the various challenges facing the country, especially in the area of the economy.
Speaking at the All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC) 2016 in Port Harcourt on Thursday, the Minister however urged the Editors to do more by becoming the Champions of Change.
”Permit me to start my remarks by commending the Nigerian Guild of Editors for the well-thought-out theme for this 2016 Conference, which is ”Economic Diversification: Agriculture as an option for a prosperous Nigeria”. As you are all very much aware, Agriculture is one of the sectors we have identified in our economic diversification programme, aimed at moving the country away from a mono-product, oil-based economy, under our Change Mantra.
”It is therefore delightful that you have chosen to deepen the discourse by the choice of your theme for this conference. Even more impressive is the fact that Editors have taken up the challenge of contributing their quota to the ongoing efforts by this Administration to revamp the economy and return Nigeria to the path of sustainable growth and development,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed however said the NGE in particular and the media in general must do more by becoming the Champions of Change
”What I am saying in essence is that while the media owes it as a duty to keep Nigerians well informed about the situation in the country, it must do so in context. We are not saying we should continue to lament about missed opportunities, the massive corruption or profligacy of the past, but is it is important for Nigerians to know where and when the rain started beating them, that no provision was made for any umbrella to shield them from the elements, and that indeed genuine efforts are now being made to turn things around.
”One of such efforts is the unprecedented massive investment in infrastructure – roads, railways, power, etc. Road Contractors have been mobilised to sites, many of them long abandoned. Any contractor who is not on site is waiting for the rains to stop, not due to lack of funds. The Administration has kick-started the programme to link all state capitals by rail. All these efforts are creating jobs and putting money in the pockets of Nigerians.
”We must give hope to our people, while also giving encouragement to those who are working non-stop to revamp our economy. In one country that failed to save for the rainy day like Nigeria did, citizens now have to cross to neighbouring countries to get essential commodities. The only reason we have averted such fate here is the committed, honest and disciplined leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari, the prudent management of the little resources that are accruing to the country now, thanks to the Treasury Singles Account, the unrelenting war against corruption, the rooting out of ghost workers and the increasing emphasis on agriculture that is sure to massively reduce our scandalously-high food imports in a short while,” he said.
The Minister said Nigeria’s economy is hard hit by the fall in the price of crude oil because the country failed to save for the rainy day, coupled with the fact that the country did not invest in infrastructure
”Nigeria has nothing to rely on to cushion the effects of the lost earnings. Many other oil producing countries and fellow OPEC members are faring better, because they saved for the rainy day. Saudi Arabia, with about one fifth of Nigeria’s population, has in foreign reserves about 600 billion dollars (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in foreign reserves). United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million people, has 75 billion dollars in foreign reserves. Qatar, with 2.4 million people, has 36 billion dollars in foreign reserves. Even Angola, with just 24 million people, has about 25 billion dollars in foreign reserves.”
”Here in Nigeria, with oil selling consistently for over 100 dollars a barrel for many years, we simply failed to save for the rainy day, with the result that a country with a population of over 170 million today has just 26 billion dollars in foreign reserves. To compound this, the fall in the price of crude is having a ripple effect: the scarcity of forex, which has resulted from the oil price crash, means that industries are struggling to get forex to import raw materials and machinery. With falling imports, the Customs Service, which is another source of revenue, is collecting fewer duties. Taxation is also affected, as industries with no forex to import can neither employ more people nor produce more goods. Then, Nigeria has had to fight an existential battle to root out Boko Haram in the North-east,” he said.
ECOWAS Court Restrains Nigeria From Imposing Sanctions On Twitter
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice in Abuja has restrained the federal government from imposing sanctions or harassing, intimidating, arresting or prosecuting Twitter.
It also restricted the government from carrying out such actions against any other social media service provider, as well as media houses, pending the hearing and determination of a suit challenging the government’s suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.
The court gave the restraining order following the suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians.
In the suit, the applicants argued that the suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government was illegal
The federal government on June 4 said it has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria as its operation threatened national security.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued by his office in Abuja.
The statement cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
According to the statement, the Minister said the federal government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.
The suspension came a few days after Twitter deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s official account.
The tweet had referenced the Nigerian civil war as the President threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving” in “the language they understand”.
It sparked reactions from many Nigerians who interpreted the statement as a threat to commit human rights violations.
On Tuesday, the federal government set up a team to engage with Twitter over the recent suspension of the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria.
The approval was announced in a statement in Abuja today by Mr Mohammed, who will chair the team.
The committee comprises the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Works and Housing, Minister of State for Labour and Employment as well as other relevant government agencies.
Buhari Constitutes Team to Engage Twitter Over Ban
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A team has been put together by President Muhammadu Buhari to engage Twitter, popular social media platform, over the suspension of its operations in Nigeria.
Twitter was banned in Nigeria by the federal government in early June after it deleted a tweet of President Buhari for violating one of its rules.
The President had posted a series of tweets and in one of them, he threatened to treat those fomenting trouble in the South-East in a language they understand.
He had earlier said those agitating to leave the country were too young to know about the losses the region suffered in the Nigerian Civil War that last 30 months between. Millions of Igbos were said to have died during the war.
A few days before Mr Buhari’s tweet, the heroes of the war were honoured on May 30 across the region and there was a stay-at-home order given by the Indigenous People of Briafra (IPOB), which was strictly adhered to.
So, when the President posted about dealing with people from the region in a language they understand, it was taken to be a genocide threat, which Twitter frowns at.
The federal government, which was angered by the action of the microblogging website, retaliated by suspending operations of the company in Nigeria, making it impossible for residents of the country to have access to the platform.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, who announced the ban, has been going around to explain the reason for the action.
He had said the indefinite suspension was because the platform to undermine the “corporate existence” of Nigeria. He later said Twitter has approached the government for talks.
On Tuesday, his media aide, Mr Segun Adeyemi, disclosed in a statement that Mr Buhari has “approved the composition” of a team to have discussions with Twitter over the issue.
He said the team is to be led by Mr Mohammed with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo; as well as other relevant government agencies as members.
Second Niger Bridge to be Ready 2022—FG Assures
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has reaffirmed its determination to complete the construction of the Second Niger Bridge next year.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, gave this assurance at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, June 20, to mark the sixth year anniversary of the present administration.
According to Mr Fashola, the bridge, which will serve as a major link between South-East and South-West Nigeria, will be delivered between the second and third quarter of 2022.
Records show that construction of the bridge commenced on September 1, 2018, with construction cost put at N336 billion when the contract deal was signed.
The minister, however, made no mention if the construction cost of the facility had changed since the commencement of work.
He said that the project would facilitate the influx of investments to the South East when completed, noting that the construction work had gone beyond the water level, explaining that most bridge works were done underwater.
“So, what you see currently is the final work. The sub-structure which entailed building cement structures underwater often costs a lot of money.
“We should finish the bridge next year between the second quarter and third quarter,” he affirmed, saying that construction time was lost because of COVID-19.
The bridge is 1.6 kilometres long and furnished with other ancillary infrastructure, including a 10.3 kilometres highway and an inter-change expected to be completed next year.
The bridge spans from Asaba in Delta State to Ozubulu, Ogbaru, and other communities in Anambra State.
The existing Niger Bridge linking Onitsha and Asaba was completed in December 1965. It was built by the French construction giant, Dumez.
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