The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has urged On-Air Personalities (OAPs) to support the Federal Government in prosecuting the war against corruption, using their various platforms.
The Minister made the appeal in Lagos on Saturday when he met with OAPs from radio and television stations, in continuation of his ongoing consultation with key stakeholders in the information and Culture sector.
”President Buhari is leading the war against corruption right from the front, and we implore all Nigerians to support him. We appeal to you to leverage on your important platforms to support this war by ensuring that Nigerians are well informed about the evils of corruption,” he said, adding: ”This is not Buhari’s war. This is not APC’s war. This is Nigeria’s war and failure is not an option.”
Explaining why Nigeria must fight corruption to a standstill, Alhaji Mohammed said it deprives the people the opportunity of reaping the dividends of democracy, in addition to stifling good governance.
”When the money meant to construct roads are embezzled or misappropriated, the end results are that the roads are not built and the people suffer and even die in avoidable road accidents. When the money meant for education is looted, we are unable to provide quality education for our children. When the money meant to fight terrorism is looted or diverted for prayers, publicity, purchase of land for maritime university or simply to rally support for a political party, soldiers die needlessly, hordes of widows emerge and people are pushed from their communities to IDP camps.
”These, in stark reality, are the costs of corruption. We must give a face to corruption and stop talking about it in the abstract. Nigerians must know that when they celebrate corrupt people, they are celebrating their own deprivations, the denial of the dividends of democracy and the endemic poverty in our society,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
To further illustrate the evil of corruption, he made a comparative analysis of of the number of ‘Dasukigate’ beneficiaries and the amount they collected from the office of the National Security Adviser in 2015 on one hand, and the list of projects and amount across the nation in the Zonal Intervention project of 2015 appropriation act.
”Whereas the sum of 51.829 billion Naira was appropriated for 1,278 projects in the Zonal Intervention Projects for 2015, a total of 21 individuals and companies benefited from the Dasukigate to the tune of 54.659 billion Naira as we know so far. The implication, therefore, is that the amount received by 21 individuals and companies is more than the 2015 Zonal Intervention Project budget by 2.829 billion Naira!
”Furthermore, the value of what beneficiaries of Dasukigate contributed to development is zero, compared to how the lives of Nigerians would have been transformed, poverty reduced and livelihoods improved by the Zonal Intervention Projects which – as we have shown – would have cost 2.829 billion Naira less than Dasukigate,” the Minister said.
He also sought the support of the OAPs, whom he said occupy a very important space, for the various campaigns that have been launched or are about to be launched by the ministry.
”The National Security Awareness Campaign, aimed at rallying the support of Nigerians for the war on terror, is ongoing. Of course, you are aware that the National Sensitization Campaign against Corruption was formally launched in Abuja on Monday, with a view to rallying Nigerians against the cankerworm of corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric and body of our society.
”We are also preparing to launch a National Re-orientation Campaign, which is tagged ‘CHANGE BEGINS WITH ME’, to achieve a paradigm shift in the way we do things and inculcate discipline into our lives. I do know that these topics have come up for discussion in your various shows, and I commend you for that,” the Minister said.
He also commended the OAP’s for discharging their duties creditaby, saying their invaluable role helped to ensure a largely violence-free election in 2015 and a successful and historic transfer of power.
The Minister had earlier met with the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Association of Women Journalists, Online Publishers, whom I met only yesterday, Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union as well as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
According to him, the meetings are aimed at ensuring that all stakeholders are carried along in the formulation and implementation of relevant policies, and to also bridge the information gap between the government and the people.