The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Thursday met with a cross section of newspaper columnists, as part of his ongoing consultation with stakeholders in the country’s Information and Culture sector.
The meeting, which held in Lagos was well attended, and the Minister thanked the columnists for the passion and the dedication tha they have devoted to their different columns, saying it takes “passion, dedication and commitment to continue to write regularly on topical issues”
He said even when some of the columnists have been critical of the Buhari Administration, “we have taken away something positive from your write-ups”, adding that as opinion moulders, they have a big role to play in deepening the understanding of the issues, especially as they concern governance, by the citizens.
Alhaji Mohammed said that the nation is facing enormous challenges at the moment, citing terrorism, resurgent militancy, ethnic agitations and the economy as some of the challenges.
The Minister said; “the good news is that there is no shortage of dedicated, hardworking, committed and patriotic people within and outside the government, nor is there a shortage of ideas, to surmount these challenges. We also have purposeful leadership, being provided by President Muhammadu Buhari. And as a member of this Administration, I can tell you that the government is working round the clock to put our country on the path of sustainable growth and development.
“The government is committed to diversifying the economy away from oil, which has been the mainstay of our economy for decades. The government is committed to putting our people back to work, as has been shown in the current budget, in addition to massive social interventions aimed at lifting millions out of poverty.
“But the government cannot do it alone. We need the support of all Nigerians, irrespective of where they lean politically. We need the support of opinion moulders like you. We need your understanding. We didn’t get into the situation we are today overnight, and we will not get out of it overnight. It will take consistent and persistent commitment, hard work, frugality and love of the country to turn things around, and there is no scintilla of doubt that the Administration of President Buhari has what it takes to do just that.”
The Minister also noted that the government is not averse to criticism, but such should be constructive.
He also urged the columnists to lend their support for the campaigns that have been launched by the Federal Government, including the campaign to sensitize Nigerians to the high cost of corruption to their lives, and the National Security Awareness Campaign to rally the support of the citizens for the war against terrorism.
“In the days ahead, we will launch a national re-orientation campaign, tagged ”˜Change Begins With Me’, aimed at achieving a paradigm shift in the way we do things. We are soliciting your support for these campaigns,” Alhaji Mohammed added.
He assured that the government’s engagement with the columnists will continue, saying: “We will always do our best to keep you informed, so that you can in turn deepen the understanding of the citizens, especially about governance.”