How We Bridged Information Gap Between Government, Citizens – Minister


The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said his ministry created different platforms to enhance communication with citizens as well as to feel their pulse on the policies and programmes of the Buhari Administration.

The Minister stated this while presenting the achievements of his ministry at the final session of the PMB Scorecard Series (2015-2023) n Abuja on Tuesday.

The Minister listed some of the platforms as the Town Hall Meetings; the PMB Scorecard Series; Sustained engagement with the various stakeholders in the media ecosystem; media tour of Federal Government projects and the launch of the FGNiAPP.

“Realising the need to constantly work to bridge the communication gap between the government and the citizenry, and the imperative for citizens’ participation in governance, we launched, on April 25th 2016, the Town Hall Meeting series, which provides a platform for the government to directly interact with a cross-section of the public, especially against the background of pervasive fakes news and disinformation.

“The Town Hall Meeting ensures a two-way communication between the government and the governed, serves as a feedback mechanism for government policies and programmes and deepens participatory democracy,” he said, noting that 22 Town Hall Meetings, including the two that were held in indigenous languages to reach the grassroots, have so far been held across the six geo-political zones of the country.

The Minister recalled how, upon assumption of office, he embarked on a process to change the narrative on Boko Haram to reflect the massive progress that the military has made in liberating captured territories in the North East.

He said the campaign took him, along with 40 local and international journalists, to Borno State where he visited Konduga, Kaure and Bama, which used to be the Caliphate of the Boko Haram terrorists.

“The visit was an eye-opener. In Bama, with over 6,000 buildings, none was standing intact. Signs in Arabic were visible everywhere. It was no longer a matter of speculation that our troops were winning the war, we were armed with empirical evidence. Our troops earned our respect forever. We were able to return and tell Nigerians what we saw, with pictures and videos to back it up.

“This went a long way in helping to change the narrative about Boko Haram, to convince Nigerians that the territories captured and occupied by the insurgents have been taken back, that indeed our military was winning the war and that they needed the support of their compatriots,” he said.

The Minister said his ministry also played a crucial role in changing the narrative following the $9.6 billion judgement awarded against Nigeria, in the case with a company known as
Process & Industrial Development (P&ID), through a series of engagements, facilitated by the ministry, with key opinion molders such as investors, financial experts and diplomats, as well as the international media, policy makers among others.

“Recall, ladies and gentlemen, that P&ID filed an arbitration against Nigeria over a botched deal, in 2010, for Accelerated Gas Development in OML 123 and 67 for a period of 20 years. Following the judgement, P&ID hired a Nigerian firm to tilt the narrative about the whole issue in its favour and paint Nigeria in unflattering colours. As P&ID began enforcement proceedings, simultaneously filing cases in US and UK courts for the recognition and enforcement of the arbitral, fears spread that Nigerian assets abroad could be confiscated.

“That was when the ministry, in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Federal Ministry of Justice, Central Bank of Nigeria, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), etc, stepped in to successfully change the narrative, leading to the reprieve that Nigeria got from a London Court that eventually doused the tension generated by the huge award to P&ID,” he said.

Segun Adeyemi
Special Assistant to the President (Media)
Office of the Minister of Information and Culture
Feb. 14th 2023