The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says the report that he has $1.2 billion (about N400 billion) in his bank account is “fake and vicious’’.
The minister stated this on Thursday in Ilorin at the Annual National Conference and General Meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) with the theme; “Communicating Values for Development and Sustainability’’.
The minister said that the report was invented by opposition and naysayers to malign him and the government, adding that the alleged fund is about the budget of his ministry for 25 years.
“How else can you explain that people will believe and circulate a fake report that the Minister of Information and Culture that is yours truly has $1.2 billion in his imaginary bank account?
“Let’s examine this for a moment. 1.2 billion dollars is about N400 billion.
“The entire yearly budget of the Ministry of Information and Culture, where I preside, is under 15 billion Naira and these include salaries, overhead and capital projects.
“Assuming, without conceding that the Minister somehow manages to transfer the entire budget into his personal account, it will take 25 years for him to amass N400 billion.
“Yet, this disinformation was lapped up by the public, he said.
The minister said that similar imaginary huge sums of money had been credited to other ministers.
He condemned the ugly trend by opposition, who were inventing the fake and malicious stories using bloggers and some online media to malign government officials.
According to him, the intention of the perpetrators and carriers of the reports are to distract the government to lose focus, but it will not fall to their antics.
The minister said that Public Relations gave him the first break in life being the profession he practiced after his graduation for over 40 years.
Mohammed, a Fellow of the Institute said that the theme of the conference was apt and called on NIPR members to be proactive in the discharge of their duties.
“You must neither be intimidated, cowed nor be overwhelmed by the cynics, you must set your own agenda and daily review such with a view to improving on them.
“You must never lose touch with your traditional constituents. You must understand the tactics of the opposition, which is ambush and irrational,’’ he said.
The minister specifically tasked government information managers to equip themselves with qualities such as integrity, courage, abnormal capacity for hard work, ingenuity resourcefulness and ability to think out of the box.
The President and Chairman Governing Council of NIPR, Dr Rotimi Oladele said the conference was to deliberate on how the profession could be used to promote communication values for development.
He underscored the need for practitioners to showcase national values and present them to global market.
Oladele commended the minister for the support given to the Institute and for creating time to attend the event.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister also inaugurated a new Governing Council for the Institute to run for two years under the leadership of Oladele.
Some of the members of the Council are, former Defence Spokesperson, retired Gen. Chris Olukolade, former Director of Press and Protocol in the Ministry of Information and Culture, Mr Peter Dama and his successor, Mr Timothy Oyedeji.
Others are Mr Wale Adeniyi of Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Sule Yau a former Chief Press Secretary to Kano State Government and Alhaja Bola Osifeso.
NAN also reports that 10 members of NIPR were inducted to Fellowship of the Institute.