The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has accused the Nigerian media of mocking the Buhari administration’s fight against corruption.
Addressing journalists at the 68th General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, on Monday in Abuja, Mr. Mohammed said the media had joined in “the campaign of discrimination against the President Muhammadu Buhari led anti-corruption war.”
Citing some story headlines he termed biased, Mr. Mohammed said the war against corruption cannot be won without full support from the media.
“Without mincing words, let me use this platform to appeal directly to the media in general to join this administration in facing down the problem of corruption,” he said.
“As we have said times without number, this fight must not be seen as Buhari’s fight. It must not be seen as the Federal Government’s fight. It is our fight. If we fail to win by defeating corruption, it will simply kill us as a nation.
“This appeal to the media to join us in the fight against corruption is borne out of the fact that the fourth estate of the realm cannot afford to sit on the fence, as far as this fight is concerned.
“We are not saying the media should not criticize us over our strategy for the fight, but they should stop mocking us. In recent times, it is not unusual to read such headlines as ‘Buhari’s Government Losing Anti-Corruption War’, ‘Buhari’s Anti-Corruption War is Failing’, ‘Arewa Youths Knock President Buhari Over Failing Anti-corruption War’. This is sheer mockery, not reporting!
“And this war is not Buhari’s war. It is our war. Make no mistake about it: Of all the three broad issues that we campaigned with – revamping the economy, fighting corruption and tackling insecurity, the toughest is the war against corruption. Why?
“Because fighting corruption anywhere is like walking a lonely road. While many will join hands with you to tackle insecurity or to revamp the economy, you are on your own when you take on corruption.
“Most Nigerians were direct beneficiaries of corruption. Many were subsidised by corruption. Now that the gravy train of corruption is fast derailing, many are finding it difficult to come to terms with it. That’s the origin of the ‘Bring Back Corruption’ Campaign being carried out by certain elements in our society.
Mr. Mohammed reiterated his stance that the main challenges faced by the current administration were as a result of corruption under the previous administration led by the Peoples Democratic Party.
He also enumerated the achievements of the Buhari administration despite the stated challenges.
“For our efforts so far, we have so much to showcase: Because we are tackling corruption, we have succeeded in raising power generation from 2,690MW to an all-time high of 7,001MW.
“Because we are tackling corruption, we are saving N25 billion monthly by cutting unnecessary allowances of officials.
“Because we are tackling corruption, we have added $500 million to our Sovereign Wealth Fund that stagnated at the $1 billion that was used to set it up. We have raised our foreign reserves from $23 billion to $35 billion.
“We stopped the payment of phantom subsidy of between N800 billion and N1.3 trillion annually, yet petroleum products are available at competitive prices.
“There are more gains from our fight against corruption. We recovered at least $43 million and 56 houses from just one former government official. We have recovered $2.9 billion from looters so far.
“Our Whistle-blower policy has led to the recovery of $151 million and N8 billion in looted funds from just three sources. Thanks to the sincere and full implementation of the Treasury Singles Account, or TSA, N3 trillion, almost half of the estimated revenue in the 2018 budget, has accrued to Government.
“With the elimination of thousands of ghost workers, we have saved N120 billion.
“We have eliminated the N108 billion in maintenance fees payable to banks, pre-TSA.
“We took Nigeria out of recession without retrenching a single worker, even when oil prices were very low. Though we earned 60% less revenue, we were able to give bailouts to states many times so they can pay salaries and pension, while providing N1.3 trillion for capital expenditure, the largest amount for capital in the nation’s history.
“We have achieved all these and more without having all the stakeholders fully on board in the fight against corruption. Imagine how far we would have gone if all hands have been on deck.
“That is why we are appealing to the media. We need allies, not antagonists. We need those who will offer constructive criticisms, not those who will mock us,” Mr. Mohammed said.