Friday, May 13, 2016 9:05 am
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, has defended himself over the document that has gone viral on the net that he made a N13 million loan request to the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to travel to China.
He said that those who put the letter on the Internet “are making a mountain out of a mole hill.” He added that what happened shows decadence in the civil service such that an inter-departmental memo like that would be leaked to the public.
He explained what happened in an interview on Radio Continental Thursday evenin: “Nigeria was invited to the International Conference on Tourism. A memo was raised to National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for special advisers, directors, other key officials and I to attend the conference. In fact, I have a personal invitation from the Information Minister of China.
“So, we decided to obtain a loan from NBC, one of the parastatals of our ministry, a loan which will be paid back, of course. I am surprised that this has become a subject in the public domain.”
In a release also by Dama, N.P.D, Director, Public Relations and Protocol, today, he explained that the loan being requested for is for the Ministry to meet up its obligations to enable the Minister and members of his delegation attend an all important Conference on Tourism for Development in China, that is meant to benefit this country.
The loan is not meant for the Honourable Minister alone as personal expenses, but for the expenses of all members of the delegation.
He added: “The Conference, which is being organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in conjunction with the Government of the People’s Republic of China, under the overall theme “Tourism for Peace and Development,” will feature amongst others discussions on major issues for sustainable development including the contribution of Tourism to poverty reduction and peace.
” The Conference will also feature discussion on major issues that have direct bearing on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), poverty alleviation through Tourism and the linkage between Tourism peace at the National and International levels.
“China on this occasion as chair of G20 will also host the 7th T20 Ministers meeting under the theme “Sustainable Tourism, An Effective Tool for Inclusive Development.”
“The Conference is a veritable platform to develop synergy and partnership with players in the global Tourism Industry which will go a long way in boosting our drive to diversify the Nigerian economy.
“It is also important to note that the Minister and his delegation were to have discussion in China with Set Top Box Manufacturers, who are meant to establish manufacturing factories in Nigeria for these boxes for our digital broadcasting processes, rather than the current situation in which the boxes are being imported. This is meant to conserve our foreign exchange and to also create avenue for job creation for our citizens.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that the Conference is an all important gathering that will benefit Nigeria, contribute towards diversification of its revenue base and create employment opportunities for Nigerians.
“Again, it is not unusual for an agency under the Ministry to assist in order to carry out government functions. Moreover, the request was discussed with the Ag. Director General NBC, who agreed to assist with the loan before the letter was written. It is therefore shocking to find out that an internal memorandum from the Ministry could be leaked out to the social media by saboteurs in order to embarrass the government.
“Please note, multiple letters were not written to government agencies as alleged, we only wrote to NBC after discussing with the Ag. DG. Payments were to be effected if the fund were loaned out based on extant financial regulations. There is nothing wrong with the request of the Ministry to meet up with an important assignment meant to benefit the country.
“Finally, the loan that was requested for is NOT meant for Lai Mohammed as being imputed but for the entire five members of the delegation to cover for tickets, travel allowances and other incidentals. ”