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Nigerian government insists on regulation of social media

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[FILES]Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed


• Says airline not suitable for national carrier
• FEC okays N5.72b for NDIC offices in Bauchi, Lagos

The Federal Government yesterday insisted on regulating the social media in the country, vowing not to be intimidated by critics to jettison the plan.Information Minister Lai Mohammed who briefed State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said: “I assure you that no matter the level of attacks, whether sponsored or otherwise, the government holds a duty to Nigerians not to allow hate speech and fake news to divide the country.”

Mohammed, who noted that the spread of fake news and hate speech had the capacity to divide the country, said: “Clearly, regulating the social media is the only way out. We cannot allow our media environment to be overtaken by fake news and hate speech, especially on the social media.”

Also speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation, Mohammed said that FEC approved N718 million for the supply of land mobile security scanners for Lagos port.Besides, the government dismissed the call by authorities of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) for the conversion of Arik Air into a national carrier rather than establishing a new one from the scratch.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, who also briefed the correspondents after the FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said Arik Air, now under the management of government, was not suitable for a national carrier.AMCON Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Kuru, had made the suggestion to change the status of the airline, which was taken over at the brink of bankruptcy by his agency.He had argued that the airline had since been restructured and positioned on the path of growth and profitability, noting that a new airline would cost the Federal Government a fortune, especially in the face of the nation’s tight budget.

However, Sirika rejected the suggestion, saying that Arik Air business plan was not in conformity with the government’s idea of a national carrier.
“I think something is not understood very well from the standpoint of the Ministry of Aviation via the intended national carrier. The carrier that I intend to bring is such that will support the national economy, with $450 million GDP for 200million people, very equipped to compete favourably.“The international airlines have dominated Africa, 80 per cent of those airlines are non-African. In view of the African Union Agenda 2063, the single African aviation market, we thought that there would be an airline that will take up that challenge; that will take advantage of it and be able to provide services to our people.

“Nigeria is the first country to kick-start the declaration in 1999, to establish a common market in Africa. At the time, we wanted to take advantage of the Nigeria Airways which was the strongest airline on the continent, and it would pay Nigeria very well. Tables turned, decisions were reversed and now, Nigeria was unlucky to have an airline that can participate in that manner.

“Arik, as currently constituted, is not in line with the thinking of the ministry. It will not be able to give us that airline that we need. However, Arik as an entity, since it is private-sector driven, can either buy shares in the new ventures or invest in any manner in the business as currently approved.
“We are not saying once we have a national carrier, every other airline goes down. No. It is our duty to continue to support businesses,” he said.

The minister said FEC also approved N574 million to insure the College of Aviation in Zaria, while N271 million was okayed for perimeter fencing of the Port Harcourt International Airport which had been abandoned since 2011.The council approved N5.72 billion to facilitate construction and consultancy services for the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) offices in Bauchi and Lagos.Giving details of the approval, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said FEC okayed two memos from her ministry for the construction of the NDIC zonal office in Bauchi.

According to her, the contract awarded to a private firm at the cost of N3.239, 747, 882billion, including VAT, would be completed in 96 weeks.“The NDIC zonal office in Bauchi has been operating from a rented office accommodation which has not been a good working environment. When completed, the office accommodation will provide comfortable, clean environment for the staff. This will bolster morale as well as productivity.”Also approved for the NDIC, the minister disclosed, was the award of N2.489, 490,765, including VAT, contract for consultancy services for the development of its corporate head office annex in Abuja, the office in Ikoyi, as well as a training centre in Lekki, both in Lagos.”


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