The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said his ministry is incapacitated in the war against fake news , disinformation and hate speech currently ravaging Nigeria.
Mohammed stated this during the 2023 budget defence of his ministry and those of the relevant agencies under it, while appearing before the Senate Committee on Information.
He said the recent terror alert raised in Nigeria by the United States of America, United Kingdom and others gave the nation’s economy a devastating blow.
The minister also appealed to the committee that his ministry requires adequate funding to fight fake news, disinformation and hate speech.
He noted that the latest terror alert raised in Nigeria by the USA and UK was part of the fake news.
He said: “If there is any ministry that should be adequately funded and not suffer from yearly budget cuts, it is the Information Ministry.
“The terror alert raised by America and some other countries against Nigeria, though debunked, but not properly done in terms of putting things in proper context in preventing wrong perception from becoming a reality.
“The ministry is even more incapacitated from discharging its basic functions of getting Nigerians informed at all times as regards position of government on burning issues through yearly budgetary cuts.
“Distinguished senators, I’m extremely sad as far as yearly budgetary cuts are concerned because it is getting worse and worse by the day.
“A worrisome example of this is that while the Information Ministry was given N2.5 billion for capital expenditure in 2022, one third of it, which is N869 million, is earmarked for similar purpose in 2023 fiscal year.
“This to us in the ministry is very depressing because it seems as if it is the main agency bearing the burden of cash crunch being faced by government.”
However, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Danladi Sankara, told the minister that yearly budget cuts were not limited to Information Ministry but all MDAs generally since capital vote component of the federal budget itself dropped from N2.5 trillion to N1 trillion.
A member of the committee, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba, assured him that budgetary votes will be made available for the ministry on advocacy for the 2023 general election.