Minister hails editors, urges them to be champions of change
Published On 5 Aug, 2016 At 04:46 PM | With 0 Comments

EDITORS

The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has commended the
Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) for being part of the ongoing
determined efforts to tackle the various challenges facing the
country, especially in the area of the economy.

Speaking at the All Nigerian Editors Conference (ANEC) 2016 in Port
Harcourt on Thursday, the Minister however urged the Editors to do
more by becoming the Champions of Change.

”Permit me to start my remarks by commending the Nigerian Guild of
Editors for the well-thought-out theme for this 2016 Conference, which
is ”Economic Diversification: Agriculture as an option for a
prosperous Nigeria”. As you are all very much aware, Agriculture is
one of the sectors we have identified in our economic diversification
programme, aimed at moving the country away from a mono-product,
oil-based economy, under our Change Mantra.

”It is therefore delightful that you have chosen to deepen the
discourse by the choice of your theme for this conference. Even more
impressive is the fact that Editors have taken up the challenge of
contributing their quota to the ongoing efforts by this Administration
to revamp the economy and return Nigeria to the path of sustainable
growth and development,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed however said the NGE in particular and the media in
general must do more by becoming the Champions of Change

”What I am saying in essence is that while the media owes it as a
duty to keep Nigerians well informed about the situation in the
country, it must do so in context. We are not saying we should
continue to lament about missed opportunities, the massive corruption
or profligacy of the past, but is it is important for Nigerians to
know where and when the rain started beating them, that no provision
was made for any umbrella to shield them from the elements, and that
indeed genuine efforts are now being made to turn things around.

”One of such efforts is the unprecedented massive investment in infrastructure
- roads, railways, power, etc. Road Contractors have been mobilised to sites,
many of them long abandoned. Any contractor who is not on site is waiting for
the rains to stop, not due to lack of funds. The Administration has
kick-started
the programme to link all state capitals by rail. All these efforts
are creating jobs
and putting money in the pockets of Nigerians.

”We must give hope to our people, while also giving encouragement to
those who are working non-stop to revamp our economy. In one country
that failed to save for the rainy day like Nigeria did, citizens are
now having to cross
to neighbouring countries to get essential commodities. The only reason we have
averted such fate here is the committed, honest and disciplined
leadership provided by President Muhammadu Buhari, the prudent
management of the little resources that are accruing to the country
now, thanks to the Treasury Singles Account, the unrelenting war
against corruption, the rooting out of ghost workers and the
increasing emphasis on agriculture that is sure to massively reduce
our scandalously-high food imports in a short while,” he said.

The Minister said Nigeria’s economy is hard hit by the fall in the
price of crude oil because the country failed to save for the rainy
day, coupled with the fact that the country did not invest in
infrastructure

”Nigeria has nothing to rely on to cushion the effects of the lost
earnings. Many other oil producing countries and fellow OPEC members
are faring better, because they saved for the rainy day. Saudi Arabia,
with about one fifth of Nigeria’s population, has in foreign reserves
about 600 billion dollars (which is 23 times what Nigeria has in
foreign reserves). United Arab Emirates, with less than 10 million
people, has 75 billion dollars in foreign reserves. Qatar, with 2.4
million people, has 36 billion dollars in foreign reserves. Even
Angola, with just 24 million people, has about 25 billion dollars in
foreign reserves.

”Here in Nigeria, with oil selling consistently for over 100 dollars
a barrel for many years, we simply failed to save for the rainy day,
with the result that a country with a population of over 170 million
today has just 26 billion dollars in foreign reserves. To compound
this, the fall in the price of crude is having a ripple effect: the
scarcity of forex, which has resulted from the oil price crash, means
that industries are struggling to get forex to import raw materials
and machinery. With falling imports, the Customs Service, which is
another source of revenue, is collecting less duties. Taxation is also
affected, as industries with no forex to import can neither employ
more people nor produce more goods. Then, Nigeria has had to fight an
existential battle to root out Boko Haram in the North-east,” he
said.

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