Home Economy FG crippled in war against fake news, terror alert devastating to economy—Lai

FG crippled in war against fake news, terror alert devastating to economy—Lai

by Business News Report

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed  has pleaded with Senate for increase funding to enable the federal government fight against fake news. He said that the National Assembly should as a matter of urgency, appropriate more funds to his Ministry in order for  him to  tackle the scourge of “Fake News”, hate speech and propagate the achievements of government in the last 7 and half years. He lamented that the Federal Government was incapacitated in the war against fake news, disinformation and hate speech ravaging the country now. Speaking in Abuja when he appeared before the Senator Danladi Sankara, led  Senate Committee on Information to defend the budget for 2023, while lamenting the paucity of funds and its impact on the activities of the Ministry, the Minister described the situation as “very sad”, stressed that out of the total of N2.5 billion appropriated to the Ministry and all of its agencies for capital projects in 2022, only a paltry N1.7 billion was released representing 41% to undertake 22 different projects.

According to Lai Mohammed,  the recent terror alert raised in Nigeria  by the United States of America, United Kingdom and others, gave the Nation’s economy devastating blow. The terror alert raised by America and some other countries against Nigeria, though debunked, but not properly done in terms of putting things in proper context in preventing wrong perception from becoming reality.” The Minister lamented that apart from the prospect of having the Capital budget for the Ministry and its entire agencies in 2023 slashed to N869 million, also complained that only the sum of N525 million representing 58% of the Ministry’s allocation was released for overheads in 2022. In his remarks, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Senator, Danladi Sankara who explained to the Minister that the slash in budget was not limited to his Ministry; pointed  out that capital votes in the 2022 budget has  dropped from N2.5trillion to N1trillion in the budget for 2023.

Responding, the Information Minister who noted that he was aware that  paucity of funds was not peculiar to his Ministry; however  appealed to the Senate Committee and the Federal Government to increase the purse of the Ministry by granting it special considerations at a time when government is faced with serious challenges. He said, “If there is any ministry that should adequately funded and not suffer from yearly budget cut is the Information Ministry. “We’re going to have a very difficult year and I  don’t know how we are going to do it. Yes, while it is true that paucity of funds has affected all government ministries and agencies it is important for government to at a time it is going through challenges rely on its media to put the people’s mind at rest and ask them not to panic and at a time the government is now swimming th of fake news misinformation”. The Minister who cried to the Senate Committee that his Ministry would need the money to tackle a gale of fake news, misinformation, disinformation and hate speech, said that  the latest of such misinformation that needs urgent repair is the US Security Alert on Abuja which according to the Minister has affected the image and economy of the country.

“The Ministry is even more  incapacitated from discharging its basic functions of getting Nigerians informed at all times as regards position of government on burning issues through yearly budgetary cuts. Distinguished Senators , I’m extremely sad as far as yearly budgetary cuts are concerned , because it is getting worse  and worse by the day. A worrisome example of this is that while the Information Ministry was given N2.5billion for capital expenditure in 2022 , one third of it which is N869million is earmarked for similar purpose in  2023 fiscal year. This to us in the Ministry is very depressing because it seems as if is the main agency bearing the burden of cash crunch being faced by  Government. Even if the government stops working, it should continue to publicise what it has done.”

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