Specifically, he said because the protesters are blocking the roads and highway, workers are finding it difficult to get to their offices and back home while many Nigerians are stranded on the roads.
Federal Government has warned that it will not allow the country to be thrown into anarchy following the violence that has trailed the #EndSARS protests, NRM reports.
In a Media TV programme titled, “EndSARS Protest: The Way Forward”.
The minister said Saturday’s assassination attempt on the Osun Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, while addressing the protesters was a clear confirmation that the protests had been hijacked by hoodlums and people with ulterior agenda.
He noted that while the original conveners of the protests might have meant well, it was obvious that they were no longer in control of the initiative.
“Peaceful protest is an integral part of democracy and that is why the Federal Government in the last 11 days has treated the protesters in a very civilised manner.
“But, if you look at what happened to the governor of Osun State, it has gone completely beyond peaceful protest against excesses and abuse of power by the police.
“There is nowhere in the world where a government will fold its arms and allow the country to descend into anarchy.
“We are no longer dealing with #EndSARS but a volatile situation that can lead to anarchy if the government does not take some very firm steps to protect the lives and livelihood of innocent Nigerians,” he said.
The minister added that the protests have gone beyond being peaceful because lives have been lost and innocent Nigerians, including workers and students, are passing through harrowing experiences.
“We have nothing against peaceful protest but there are civilised ways of doing so.
“This is by going to a venue where you are not going to disturb other Nigerians because where your own right stops, other persons’ right begins,” he said.
The Federal Government on Saturday appealed to organised Labour to shelve its planned strike, saying it will only bring more hardship to ordinary Nigerians.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the appeal in Lagos at a meeting with the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN reports that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and its affiliate unions had called on workers to embark on an indefinite industrial action on Monday over the price of petrol and electricity tariff.
Mohammed, however, said the two necessary price adjustments in the petroleum and power sectors were inevitable because of dwindling resources as the country had lost 60 per cent of its revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He disclosed that the Federal Government spent N10.4 trillion on fuel subsidy from 2006 to 2009 and N1.7 trillion to supplement electricity tariff in less than five years
The minister reiterated that the government can no longer afford the cost of the subsidies, especially under the prevailing economic conditions.
“Revenues and foreign exchange earnings by the government have fallen by almost 60 percent due to the downturn in the fortunes of the oil sector.
“There is no provision for subsidy in the revised 2020 budget. So where will the subsidy money come from?
“Remember that despite the massive fall in revenues, the government still has to sustain expenditures, especially on salaries and capital projects,” he said.
According to the minister, citizens are not the beneficiaries of the subsidy on petroleum products that have lasted for years.
“Between 2006 and 2019, a total of 10.4 trillion naira was spent on fuel subsidy, most of which went to fat cats who either collected subsidy for products they didn’t import or diverted the products to neighbouring countries where prices are much higher.
“Instead of subsidy, ordinary Nigerians were subjected to the scarcity of petroleum products.
“They endured incessant long queues and paid higher to get the products, thus making the subsidy ineffectual,” he said.
The minister added that due to the problems with the largely-privatised electricity industry, the government had been supporting the industry.
“To keep the industry going, the government has so far spent almost N1.7 trillion especially by way of supplementing tariff shortfalls.
“The government does not have the resources to continue along this path.
“To borrow just to subsidise generation and distribution, which are both privatised, will be grossly irresponsible,” he said.
Mohammed added that in order to protect the large majority of Nigerians who cannot afford to pay cost-reflective tariffs from increases, only customers with a guaranteed minimum of 12 hours of electricity would have their tariffs adjusted.
He said the industry regulator, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), would ensure that those who get less than 12 hours supply experience no increase.
In addressing the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing, the minister said that a mass metering programme is being undertaken to provide meters for no fewer than five million Nigerians.
According to him, the government is also taking steps to connect those Nigerians who are not connected to electricity at all.
“As you are aware, under its Economic Sustainability Plan, the government is providing solar power to five million Nigerian households in the next 12 months.
“This alone will produce 250,000 jobs and impact up to 25 million beneficiaries through the installation, thus ensuring that more Nigerians will have access to electricity via a reliable and sustainable solar system,” he said.
Reacting to the complaints on the timing of the two adjustments, Mohammed said the government is not insensitive to the plight of the citizens.
He explained that the adjustments were just a mere coincidence.
“ First, the deregulation of PMS prices was announced on March 18, 2020, and the price modulation that took place at the beginning of this month was just part of the on-going monthly adjustments to global crude oil prices.
“Also, the review of service-based electricity tariffs was scheduled to start at the beginning of July 2020 but was put on hold so that further studies and proper arrangements can be made.
“Like Mr President said at the opening of the last ministerial retreat, this government is not insensitive to the current economic difficulties our people are going through and the very tough economic situation we face as a nation.
“We certainly will not inflict hardship on our people. But we are convinced that if we stay focused on our plans, brighter and more prosperous days will come soon,” he said
He said the deregulation of the petroleum sector would save the country trillions of Naira which could be used to provide modern infrastructure for the benefit of the people.
Mohammed added that the deregulation would spur investments in the petroleum industry, especially in the building of local refineries which would result in lower fuel prices.
He also noted that the service-based electricity tariff adjustment and the ongoing work by a German company, Siemens, to boost power supply in Nigeria would help end the perennial power problem in the country.
The minister thanked Nigerians for their understanding and appealed to them to bear with the government.
Minister of Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed has stated that the federal government will continue pushing for the passage of the water resources bill into law.
Firing back at critics who accused the federal government of seeking the control of water, usage and its resources, Lai Mohammed alleged the water resources bill critics are “anti-people” and also being mischevious.
The Minister insisted that the bill is a consolidation of four existing laws aimed at the efficient management of water resources in the country.
“Gentlemen, there is nothing new about the National Water Resources Bill. This is because it is an amalgamation of Water Resources Laws that have been in existence for a long time.
“These are; Water Resources Act, Cap W2 LFN 2004, River Basin Development Authority Act, Cap R9 LFN 2004, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency(Establishment) Act, Cap N1100A, LFN 2004; National Water Resources Institute Act, Cap N83 LFN 2004
“So, why are the laws being repackaged as the National Water Resources Bill 2020? The answer is that they are being re-enacted with necessary modifications to bring them in line with current global trends as well as best practices in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
“The overall objective of this amalgamation is the efficient management of the water resources sector for the economic development of Nigeria and the wellbeing of its citizens.
“Contrary to what is being perpetuated, water resources in a state that do not go beyond the particular state are not regulated by this bill.
“You can now see that many of those condemning the National Water Resources Bill 2020 either have not read it or do not understand its provisions. Also, we cannot rule out deliberate mischief by some of those who have been portraying the Bill as a new source of conflict.
“We are therefore using this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians to avail themselves of the provisions of the bill to avoid being misled by those who have chosen to politicise it.
“We also want to state that the bill is for the good of the nation, and has no hidden agenda whatsoever.”
Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of office in 2015 prevented Nigeria from becoming a failed state.
He said in a statement on Sunday that Nigeria is courageously tackling its challenges and building a solid infrastructure that will serve as the basis for socio-economic development, noting that the government is unrelenting in battling insecurity and working hard to ensure greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people.
Mohammed said President Buhari came into office at a time that a swathe of the country’s territory was under occupation, a period when many Nigerian towns and cities, including the capital city of Abuja, were a playground for insurgents and a moment that the nation’s wealth had been looted dry, with little or nothing to show for the nation’s huge earnings, especially in the area of infrastructure.
“Whatever situation the country has found itself in, things would have been much worse but for the deft management of resources, unprecedented fight against corruption, determined battle against insurgency and banditry as well as the abiding courage of Mr. President in piloting the ship of state,” the minister said.
Mohammed boasted that no government in the history of the country has done so much with so little, as the Buhari Administration is doing presently, adding that with 60% less national income, the Administration is making progress on all fronts and setting the country on the path of sustainable growth and development.
The Minister said while naysayers are hyping the instances of insecurity in the country, they have conveniently forgotten that the country could have been overrun by insurgents and bandits if President Buhari had not rallied regional and international allies to tackle, headlong, the Boko Haram insurgency that saw bombs going off like firecrackers before his assumption of office, and an estimated 20,000 square miles of the nation’s territory occupied by insurgents
“They tout the downturn in economic fortunes without putting things in context. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a global shutdown and a drastic fall in global oil demand, Nigeria lost 60% of its earnings, yet the Administration has ensured that not a single worker has been retrenched, has paid salaries as and when due and has continued to build infrastructures like roads, rails, bridges and power, among others, that will serve many generations.
“They aggravate the national fault lines with their angry and unguarded actions and rhetoric, forgetting that while national fissures are amplified at a time of dwindling economic fortunes, what is needed to foster peace and unity is not reckless elocution but responsible and responsive leadership, the kind being offered by President Buhari,” he said.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, spoke to reporters on August 15, 2020, during an inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
Minister of Information and Culture on Saturday said there is nothing bad in borrowing for infrastructure.
Mohammed made the remarks during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
“We didn’t borrow money for services,” he said. “We didn’t borrow money for overhead expenditure. We borrowed money for capital projects – rail, road, bridges, power, general infrastructure.
“There is nothing bad in borrowing, provided that borrowing is invested in infrastructure, especially when it will create jobs, create an enabling environment for the economy.”
The Minister added that he was impressed with the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
“I am very excited,” he said. “When I got into the train this morning, it was as clean and modern as any coach anywhere in the world.
“I was also quite impressed with the passion of the Honourable Minister (of Transportation). You can see that every point in time, he is pushing the contractors, saying ‘look, I can’t wait till October, I will come back in four weeks’ time,’ because we want to be able to deliver this kind of infrastructure to Nigerians.”
The Barcelona captain asked to be released from the club last summer, but the Catalans refused to let him go on a free transfer, with Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter all reportedly interested to acquire his services.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says the nation needs more weapons and platforms to win the insurgency war.
He disclosed this in Abuja, the nation’s capital during a Forum on Thursday.
“To fight terrorists we need platforms and weapons,” he said.
Mohammed also asked the international community to support the Federal Government to tackle the numerous security challenges facing the country.
While noting that foreign countries can do better in assisting Nigeria, the Minister pleaded with western powers not to deny the current administration support due to what he describes as unsubstantiated arguments.
“I want to use this opportunity to say that the international community can help us better than they are doing right now.
“When the international community is weighed by unsubstantiated arguments to deny the country of vital platforms and weapons to fight insecurity, you cannot turn round to accuse the country of not fighting terrorism,” he said.
The Minister stood his ground by claiming that “certain world powers have refused to even sell to us certain vital weapons.”
He regretted that the Federal Government is yet to receive some weapons despite paying for them for more than two years.
According to the Minister, “they have not released to us and they even refused to give us spare parts.”
Although he did not name any country, the minister, however, appealed to some advanced nations saying, “They should please help Nigeria to provide us with these sensitive platforms so that we can fight insecurity more effectively.”
“They should not forget that we are fighting a non-conventional war and at the same time, these people have contacts everywhere,” he said.
Mohammed said besides kinetic deployment, the government is equally using a non-kinetic approach to tackle insecurity like the economic and social intervention programmes meant to empower and engage the youths.
The Board of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has kicked against the amendments to the sixth edition of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code.
The Chairman of the Board, Ikra Bilbis, stated the position of the board on Thursday while addressing a news conference in Abuja.
“As a board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laureate, activists, legal practitioners, broadcasters, investors, Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), content creators, copyright experts, and professional organisations.
“Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment,” said Bilbis who is a former Minister of State for Information.
He explained that the management of the commission did not undertake a proper consultation before making the amendments to the code.
The former minister decried that the amendments to the code were capable of destroying investments in the nation’s broadcast sector.
He stressed that the board was not in support of the reviewed code unveiled by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday last week.
Bilbis noted that some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had made observations to the minister at a meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during, and after the elections.
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had also called for the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert a reoccurrence.
The NBC board chairman, however, stressed that the noble observation of the President was misunderstood by the minister.
“The board of the NBC wishes to make it quite clear that as long as it is in place, the only NB Code that we recognise and which we shall work within the setting of operating policies and standards for the NBC is the 6th edition of the NB Code which was launched in 2019 in Kano.
”Another purported review has no board endorsement,” he stated.
Read the full text of Bilbis’ remarks at the briefing below:
THE POSITION OF THE BOARD OF THE NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMMISSION (NBC) ON THE PURPORTED AMENDMENT TO THE 6TH EDITION OF THE NIGERIA BROADCASTING CODE (NB CODE).
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, I welcome you all to this important press briefing on a very touchy issue related to broadcasting in Nigeria.
You may all be aware of the recent negative developments concerning the purported amendment of the NB Code. The wellbeing of the broadcast media has direct relevance to the stability of our democracy. I, therefore, have the pleasure of presenting to you the position of the NBC Board on the issues.
The National Broadcasting Commission is established by law and section 2(h) of the NBC Act empowers the Commission to establish and disseminate a Nigeria Broadcasting Code (NB Code) which sets standards for the quality and content of broadcast materials.
Code review is undertaken every four years and involves the staff of the NBC, Former DG’s, retired Directors of the Commission and all other relevant stakeholders in broadcasting. These include Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), Independent Broadcast Association of Nigeria (IBAN), Private Media outfits, Broadcasters, Notable media Intellectuals, Communication experts, Digiteam and the Academia.
The current edition (6th Edition) was presented to the public in 2019 at an elaborate ceremony in Kano which attracted a broad section of various stakeholders.
Following the 2019 national elections, some members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) made observations to the Honourable Minister of Information at a FEC meeting about the divisive broadcasts engaged in by some broadcast media before, during and after the elections and the need to strengthen the operations of the NBC to avert such future occurrence.
This noble observation of Mr President was unfortunately misunderstood by the Hon. Minister of Information. Instead of studying and following the Law, relevant rules and regulations, and direct the appropriate authorities as stipulated by the Law to act on, he erroneously embarked on the review alone.
From the history, traditions and the convention of the NBC, no Honourable Minister of Information has ever interfered in any NB Code review. After the 2019 presentation of the 6th code (which is the present one), the Hon. Minister has acted alone with just a handful of his loyalists who have written a new NB Code that has created an uproar in the industry, threatening to destroy investments and lead to job losses.
The Honourable Minister has constantly dropped the name of President Muhammadu Buhari as having approved his own version of the code review. The NB Code is a regulatory framework put together jointly by stakeholders to guide their operations in the industry. It is therefore not a unilateral government instrument and is already covered by Law hence, not requiring any further Presidential approval. This might be the reason why till date the Hon. Minister cannot show us a copy of the Presidential approval.
President Buhari is a stickler for due process and he always insists on organisations doing the right thing. The Honourable Minister’s version of the revised NB Code does not meet any known criteria of due process and inclusiveness of stakeholders.
The Director overseeing the office of the DG of the NBC has equally made insinuations that the Board endorsed the amendments culminating in its ‘public presentation’ on 26th March 2020 at the L’eola Hotel in Lagos. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The “public presentation” was actually attended by serving directors in the NBC, one former DG of the NBC, a member representing the Ministry of Information and only four (4) selected stakeholders.
When compared with over sixty (60) stakeholders that attended the 2019 presentation in Kano, there is a wide gap in industry representation. We have the list of the four hand-picked stakeholders at the Lagos “presentation”. The Board of the NBC was neither informed nor represented.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you may all recall that by 26th march 2020, (the day of the “Public Presentation” in Lagos), the Federal Government had already announced a COVID-19 lockdown of Lagos, Ogun states and the FCT. It was therefore not a sincere effort to present such an important ‘review document’ which affects people’s investments and livelihoods under such situation.
The attendant public outcry over the purported review of some sensitive sections of the NB Code compelled the Board of the NBC to institute a process through which stakeholders could express their opinions and harmonise their feelings with what the Honourable Minister had unilaterally created.
The Board convened a meeting which included the Director overseeing the office of the DG in attendance. The unanimous decision was to issue a press release inviting inputs from various stakeholders. It became clear to the Board that even though the Director overseeing the DG’s office subscribed to the unanimous decision of the Board, he was inclined to sabotaging the press release for obvious reasons.
The Board, on its own, chose to be proactive by taking Five (5) National Newspaper announcements seeking inputs from relevant stakeholders in furtherance of the principle of equity, fairness and creating a level playground for all stakeholders.
Most surprising was the rejoinder issued by the Director overseeing the office of the DG stating that the notice published by the Board seeking stakeholders input does not have the ‘official endorsement of the Commission’. Sections 5(4), 5(2) 1(d), (g) and (h) and sections 3 of the NBC Act state categorically the powers and composition of the Commission and under whose purview the management of Commission falls.
There are very serious and disturbing amendments which have been unilaterally carried out by the Hon. Minister. This has attracted very critical comments with threats of litigation from concerned organisations and individuals.
As a Board, we have received and taken our time to compile the responses of numerous stakeholders which include our Nobel Laurette, Activists, Legal Practitioners, Broadcasters, Investors, BON, Content Creators, Copyright experts and professional organisations. Most of them have adduced reasonable reasons against the proposed amendment.
As a Board that supervises the affairs of the NBC, it is important that we state that we cannot fold our arms and watch the activities of the Honourable Minister which is directed at destroying the modest gains the Broadcast Industry has achieved since the setting up of the Commission and the deregulation of Broadcasting in Nigeria.
While not disputing the fact that there are many challenges in the sector, the quest to find solutions cannot be totally assumed by one man. Approaches to solutions must be through wide consultations, discussions, persuasion and concession. Dictatorship tends to ruin businesses and prompt divestment. The Hon. Minister seems to have taken the option of working from an answer to the question instead of vice versa. We are in an era of democracy.
The NBC was set up by law and there is an Act that guides its operations. The Honourable Minister, therefore, cannot usurp the powers of the Board as clearly stated in the Act. Any such action by the Honourable Minister is illegal.
The Board of the NBC wishes to make it quite clear that as long as it is in place, the only NB Code that we recognise and which we shall work within the setting of operating policies and standards for the NBC is the 6th edition of the NB Code which was launched in 2019 in Kano. Any other purported review has no Board endorsement and therefore cannot be utilised in regulating broadcasting in Nigeria.
The danger of allowing the unilateral amendment of the NBC Code to stand is that investors in the industry will loose confidence in the stability the broadcast ecosystem has enjoyed till date before the advent of the current Minister of Information.
Our President and his team have worked so hard to galvanise local and foreign investment in Nigeria. Allowing obnoxious policies to take root in our Investment Culture will spell doom for creativity, enterprise, diversity and the general development of broadcasting in Nigeria.
I leave you with the words of the famous American President Abraham Lincoln who said:
‘’You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, which they could and should do for themselves’’.
The very controversial portions of the purported amended code certainly aim at destroying hard work and enterprise. It aims at taking people’s freedom and intellectual property. It aims at depriving hard-working entrepreneurs to empower new entrants who have not cut their teeth and it aims at stifling investment. That is the main reason why stakeholder inputs are been avoided.
I shall take a few questions and allow some of my colleagues and Industry experts to handle details in some areas.
The Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, has asked the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to stop airing the ongoing TV reality show, Big Brother Naija (BBN) dues to some reasons.
According Lai Mohammed, the reason for this is because of the fears of a possible spread of COVID-19 among housemates.
NRM learnt on Wednesday, that Armstrong Idachaba, acting director-general of the NBC, told senior management members that he had been directed by the minister to shut down the show. Mohammed reportedly wanted the letter shutting down the show to come from the NBC because of the general opinion that he is bent on sending MultiChoice Ltd, producers of the show, out of Nigeria.
However, insiders told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) that the NBC management was not well disposed to the move to shut down BBN, with some of them saying there was no basis for it. A director is said to have reminded the meeting that NBC had already sought explanation from Multichoice on a possible violation of COVID-19 protocols with the airing of the show. The letter was sent on July 1, before the show began.
MultiChoice replied with detailed explanations on measures taken in collaboration with the Lagos state government, whose agency, Lagos State Safety Commission, gave the green light for the show.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N14.9 billion for the execution of 11 ecological projects across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of the fifth virtual FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the approval followed the presentation of a memo by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF).
The minister said: “In the memo presented on behalf of Mr. President, by the Secretary to the Government, we sought approval for the award of contract for emergency procurement of the third and fourth quarters 2019 soil erosion, flood control and acceleration of intervention projects in favour of 11 contractors, in total sum of N14,907,754,845.’’
According to him, the 11 projects were spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
He added: “The first is a gully erosion control at Ogige-Uruala-Chikabi-Ajibara in Isikwato local government area of Abia State at the sum of N896,959,169.75, with completion period of six months.
“The second is erosion control and road improvement works at Ezeoke-Nsuelime, Mbaeno local government area of Imo State for the sum of N965,196,290 with the completion period of 11 months.
“Then there is a dredging of Tejuoso-NTA Canal, Railway Stadium via Alaska Estate, Surulere, which has been awarded for N1,892,006,000, with a completion period of 12 months.
“Then, we have the construction of the three kilometres trapezoidal drain at Oluomo, Orile-Ifo by Abe-Koko, at Odo-eran in Ifo local government area of Ogun State, which is for another N1, 067,051,000.”
The minister revealed that N4.5 billion would be expended on the shoreline protection and reclamation works for Emadike Phase 2 in Bayelsa, while N1.47 billion would also be spent on the construction of road and drainage network within Mobupolo area of Maiduguri metropolis in Borno State.
The Federal Government says funds donated by the private sector towards fighting Coronavirus are meant for development of healthcare infrastructure and cannot be used to provide palliatives during lockdown.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the explanation on Tuesday, when he featured on a Radio Nigeria programme, “Politics Nationwide”.
Mohammed was responding to comments from Nigerians requesting that part of the billions of naira being donated by public-spirited individuals and private institutions should be shared to the people to cushion the effect of the extended lockdown.
The minister said that the Presidential Task Force for the Control of Coronavirus was neither with the money nor in control of it, and could not share a penny from the fund to anyone.
“The private sector donors are not giving any cash to the federal government and they have made this clear to the people.
“They said they will support the fight against the pandemic by asking government where they want healthcare infrastructure to be provided.
“What government has done is to request them to build a 30-bed isolation ward and a 10-bed Intensive Care Unit in each state in the country.
“In addition, the federal government has given them a list of equipment and commodities that will also be needed
“Therefore, the issue of using their donations to provide palliative cannot arise,” he said.
Mohammed further said that in addressing the issue of palliative, every country adopted peculiar strategy that was workable and acceptable.
He said that Nigeria was leading and remains the best in the whole of Africa in the area of provision of palliative to citizens as the world battles the scourge.
The minister said that the federal government had taken a lot of measures to cushion the effects of Covid-19 on Nigerians, including food distribution, cash transfers and loans repayment waivers.
He recalled that on March 18, government reduced the price of petrol from N145 per litre to N125 per litre, with that reduction going further down to N123.50 per litre.
The minister added that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed a three-month repayment moratorium for all TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni loans as well as Federal Government-funded loans issued by the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Nigeria Export Import Bank.
He said that interest rates for intervention fund had been slashed from nine to five per cent, while the CBN put aside N50 billion fund to help SMEs.
Mohammed said that to cushion effect of the lockdown, satellite towns around Lagos and Abuja were being given relief materials while the vulnerable and those in IDP camps are being taken care of.
He said that besides the two months payment of Conditional Cash Transfer monthly stipend, the President ordered that the social register be expanded from 2.6 million households to 3.6 million households in the next two weeks.
The minister said that the President had set up a ministerial committee to ensure the economy adapted to the new reality and another body to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the 2020 farming season.
NobleReporters learnt that apart from the 30 million dollar (about ₦11.4 billion) recently donated by the NNPC and 33 of its partners, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had said that monetary contributions by the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), has totaled up to about N15 billion.
According to its spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, the fund, domiciled in an account set up under CACOVID, has so far received donations from 37 donors including individuals, banks and other corporate organisations.
Details of the contributions showed that the CBN and Aliko Dangote Foundation contributed N2 billion each.
Abdul Samad Rabiu (BUA Sugar Refinery), Segun Agbaje (GTB), Tony Elumelu (UBA), Oba Otudeko (First Bank), Jim Ovia (Zenith Bank), Herbert Wigwe (Access Bank) and Femi Otedola of Amperion Power Distribution donated N1 billion each to the relief fund.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has described as fake news, reports making the rounds on social media that members of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 have been receiving N500, 000 daily as sitting allowance.
The Minister who spoke at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, said he was shocked when he heard the rumor. He said members of the team have not received any allowance at all and that as a matter of fact, they have been the ones using their own money to carry out this National Assignment.
“The issue I want to take on is that of the sitting allowance of half a million naira, paid to each of the members of the task force. You will remember that each time I come here, since I tested negative for Coronavirus, my other major problem has been fake news. As soon as I got that information, I consulted with my colleagues here whether I’m not a member of the task force and I asked them whether they’d received their own and they said no.
What bothers me is that since about 2 O’clock this afternoon I’ve been receiving text messages to send money to people; that they were broke, they had no money and I began to wonder, why today? Apparently, they are acting on this fake news that we receive half a million naira everyday.
The truth of the matter is that no member of the committee has received one penny, either for sitting or sleeping allowance, not even when we went to Lagos yesterday. So, you see this fake news is targeted at one thing alone: to distract the government from the more serious problem and task of containing and combating fake news. I want to say loud and clear; no member of the committee receives a penny as sitting allowance. Everybody sacrificed his time, energy and even sometimes his resources”, Mohammed said
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the spike in fake news and misinformation, despite repeated caution by the government, is distracting the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The minister gave this position in Abuja during a press conference to give an update on the government’s efforts at containing the pandemic.
He said the government is particularly worried about unverified local therapies circulating in the social media as cure to COVID-19, when in actual fact, no known cure has been developed for the disease.
“If you go by Whatsapp platform, there are so many myths and cure for COVID-19 today.
“Some people will tell you, it cannot affect Africans or the disease is not even existing at all while some will say, all you need to do is to take garlic, take ginger.
“As we speak today, there is no vaccine or medicine for COVID-19.
“The only weapon to combat the virus is what we called Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI), which are largely sensitisation, advocacy, keeping very good hygiene, social distancing, not shaking hands and no gathering.
“These are the only effective ways to contain the pandemic and that is why governments are declaring total lockdown.
“Once it starts spreading, no healthcare in the world can survive it,” he warned.
The minister said that if Nigerians do not change their ways, the country might witness an upsurge in infection of the deadly disease.
“I do not want to raise any alarm, but give a scenario, if one percent of our population is infected that is two million people.
“We do not have two million beds in all our hospitals combined, it is not a joke and that is why Nigerians should take the Government seriously.
“You see, COVID-19 does not kill as fast as Ebola, even SARS, but the damage it does to the economy, the social dislocation is worst.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Monday, told journalists in states affected by the total lockdown over COVID-19 to use their identity, ID, card for easy movement.
A statement in Abuja by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to the President, Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, advised all working journalists and other media staff in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to use their ID cards as pass.
It stated that journalists “have been advised to use their valid Identity Cards to access their places of work and assignment venues during the 14-day lockdown directed by the President in the two states and the FCT.
“The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the clarification becomes necessary in view of the inadequate time to properly accredit working journalists in the affected states and the FCT during the period.
He said members of the media are expected to continue to provide essential services during the lockdown, in order to keep Nigerians well updated on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents of Iluabo, a suburb of Akure were shocked by an explosion that occurred in the area at about 1am on Saturday, NobleReporters learntOndo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu confirmed on Twitter that there had been a “loud blast” and said he was headed to the “scene to assess”.https://twitter.com/RotimiAkeredolu/status/1243804359588294656The Governor also asked that citizens “remain calm as we ascertain details of the incidence.”The number of casualties and the extent of damage is yet unclear.
Nigeria’s 43 cabinet ministers have donated 50 percent of their March salaries towards the federal government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, said on Saturday.
According to Mohammed, the donation was coordinated by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki.
In a statement issued by Mohammed’s office on Saturday in Abuja. Saraki was quoted as saying it (the donation) was a gesture of solidarity and support for the federal government’s efforts to tackle the disease.
”This global virus outbreak will require nations, continents and
smaller communities to pull together to contribute their resources and
support one another. This will facilitate an early resolution of the
problem,” Saraki was quoted as saying.
The Ministers also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his
leadership role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
Nigeria now has 81 confirmed cases of the coronavirus after 11 new cases were confirmed by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) late Friday.
Italy on Friday recorded the most daily deaths of any country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and Spain had its deadliest day, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the first major world leader to test positive.