The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the change promised Nigerians by the All Progressives Congress is not a ruse. Speaking in Enugu at a town hall meeting for the South East organised by the ministry on Monday, the minister said the change was already manifesting in every sector of the nation’s life.
He said contrary to the insinuations in certain quarters that the people were not feeling the impact of government, a lot had been done in moving the country forward. He said the government would remain undaunted in implementing its change agenda to improve the lot of Nigerians.
“Many have said they are yet to see the change we promised. Many more have called the promise a ruse. In fact, they are now mocking us. But we remain undaunted because we know that the change we promised is real. In fact, the change we promised is already here, and it is manifesting all around us,’’ he said.
Buttressing his position, the minister said that the government had successfully stopped the looting of public funds which was responsible for underdevelopment.
“Before now, public officials simply opened the public till, took as much money as they wanted and walked away without consequences. That explains why funds allocated to the military to fight Boko Haram ended up in the piggy banks of many unscrupulous Nigerians.
“Today, all those who looted the public treasury are being made to answer for their actions, as impunity gives way to accountability. Many have offered to return their loots, and many more are facing charges," he said.
Mr. Mohammed said with the introduction of the Treasury Single Account, funds meant for the federal government were directly paid in and used for development of infrastructure. He noted that before now, funds accruing to the government were paid into so many accounts and went to private purses.
He said the government had successfully identified and stopped salaries hitherto paid to more than 30,000 ghost workers. According to him:
“We promised to diversify the economy away from oil, to ensure that other sectors are able to significantly contribute to sustainable development. In June 2016, for the very first time, about 70 per cent of the more than N500 billion raised from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee came from the non-oil sector, while 30 per cent came from the oil sector. It was the first time in 2016 that the Federal Government shared more than N500 billion among the three tiers of government.”
In the area of security, Mr. Mohammed said that the government had successfully crushed the Boko Haram terrorists and not a single territory was being administered by them. On infrastructure, the minister said that construction firms had been mobilised to sites on major roads in the country.
He said, “As they move to site, they are creating thousands of new jobs. No part of the country is left out of this. Where the contractors have not been seen on site, it is because of the rains, not because of lack of mobilisation.
The minister said the complaints over perceived or real instances of lopsidedness in appointments were being addressed.
“There are hundreds of appointments yet to be made. It is an evolving scenario and any lopsidedness is being addressed as we progress,” he said.
The minister said the town hall meetings were held to bridge the communication gap between the government and the people and to carry the people along in the process of governance.