The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has defended himself regarding a letter leaked to press where he demanded for a “Load” of N13.12 million naira for a five man delegation headed for a conference in China.
The last time we checked, Mr. Lai Mohammed’s office oversees the Nigerian Broadcasting Cooperation, NBC. How a Ministry headed by Lai Mohammed is demanding loan from a branch of the ministry is beyond comprehension.
Recall that the National Budget has been passed. Ministries now have access to funds captured in their budgets. Lai Mohamed’s request for a “Loan” is sneaky to say the least. The letter was leaked by staff of NBC since they understood the illegality of the demand.
In response, Mr. Lai Mohammed stated 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 the all-important conference.
“The loan is not meant for the minister alone as personal expenses, but for the expenses of all members of the delegation. The Conference is being organized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in conjunction with the Government of the People’s Republic of China, under the overall theme ‘Tourism for Peace and Development.’
“It will feature amongst others, discussions on major issues for sustainable development including the contribution of Tourism to poverty reduction and peace.
“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 stated.”
Mr. Lai Mohammed further adduced that aside from the conference, the five man delegation will engage Chinese business men so as to invest in Nigeria. Accord to him, the move will “Conserve our foreign exchange and to also create avenue for job creation for our citizens. 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,” he stated.
“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.”
Lai Mohammed does not represent Nigeria in talks of direct foreign investments. We believe his seeming defense is a face-saving attempt to absolve himself from the embarrassing leak.