By Christiana Ekpa
Senate yesterday advocated budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Information to enable it prosecutes its mandate effectively
Chairman Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation Sen. Suleiman Adokwe made the call when the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed appeared before the committee to defend its 2018 budget.
Adokwe while noting that the 2017 budget performance of government media agencies was below expectation urged them to be more proactive in the generation of more revenue.
“This is because the emphasis of this administration is to enable the agencies to collect the collectables so that Nigeria doesn’t depend on oil revenue as the source of financing for our development.”
He said capital releases were intended to inject money into the economy and if the agencies lacked the capacity to utilize what was released “you are doing harm to the economy.”
The chairman, however, said that as activities would soon commence for 2019 general election, the government agencies should carry all parties along in the broadcast of political activities.
He said the purpose of creating agencies was primarily for service to Nigerians and not to the party in power.
He said the staff of the new agencies were being paid with money which collectively belonged to Nigerians, adding that as such, their service should be to Nigerians firstly.
“In other climes, the broadcast industry is in the interest of the country and not for commercial or for the interest of the party in power. Nigerians pay them not the government, and their services should be to the nation.
Also speaking a member of the committee Sen. Umaru Kurfi (APC-Katsina) urged the ministry to continue with the town hall meeting it started last year.
“Such meetings create an avenue for governments to get closer to the people,” he said
While presenting the budget to the committee, the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the ministry’s proposed budget for 2018 was N1.8 billion.
Mohammed noted that a total of N90, 000,000 was appropriated for the rehabilitation of the Information Centers situated in Anambra, Ekiti, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa which had been under a state of disrepair over the years.
“It is gratifying to report that contracts for the repairs of the National Press Centre and three of the zonal information centers has been awarded and they are all at various stages of execution. “
He further said the sum of N97, 028,500.00 had been expended on grassroots enlightenment campaigns in order to project government’s activities in the rural areas.