The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, criticised the reduction of allocation to his ministry in the 2023 Appropriation Bill.
Mohammed disclosed his displeasure while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Information to defend the budgetary proposal.
He said; “I want to draw your attention and that of the members to the fact that the Ministry of Information, as usual, has been dealt a very heavy card in this year’s budgetary allocation.''
“In 2022, the National Assembly approved N2.5bn for this ministry as capital (budget); that is, for both information and culture, of which N1bn belongs to information. This year, the capital provision for the entire Ministry of Information and Culture is N869m, of which only N345m is for the information arm.''
“I fully understand the economic challenges the country is facing but I don’t agree that the Ministry of Information and Culture, at this critical time, should have less. Actually, it should have more and this is because it is in times of challenges, hardships and the days like this that we need the Ministry of Information in particular, not only to chronicle what we have achieved despite lack of funds but to also combat fake news, disinformation and hate speech, which today has attained quite a height threatening our very existence as a Country.”
“While I agree that our sources of revenue dwindled, there is no better time to have more money for the Ministry of Information and Culture. I did argue this even at the level of the Executive that even if we stop any capital project today; if the Ministry of Information and Culture is given enough money, we can be chronicling and telling the world every day what we have achieved in the last eight years.''
“This N345m capital expenditure, I don’t know what to do with it; I don’t know where to start. This is a ministry that is used to setting flagship programmes like town hall meetings, visits to federal government projects, series and documentaries. The allocation to the Ministry of Information and Culture is less than what some states receive.”
The Chairman of the committee, Segun Odebunmi and members expressed their agreement with Mohammed on the claim.
Odebunmi partly said, “With the submission of everybody here, it is like the budget of the Ministry of Information is one way or the order rejected because this is improper. It is not enough for the Ministry of Information to perform its functions.”