Information ministry defends minister’s travel loan from NBC, says it’s nothing unusual

The Ministry of Information and Culture stands in strong defence of Minister Lai Mohammed, saying there was nothing wrong with requesting a loan from the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to cover travelling expenses of a delegation to China.

The ministry’s made clarifications in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja by the Director, Public Relations and Protocol in the Ministry, Peter Dama.

The letter to the NBC requesting a loan of N13.12 million was leaked to the  media by an unknown staff of the Commission.

But, Mr. Dama clarified that the loan was to cover tickets and travel expenses of a five-member delegation to Beijing, China, led by the Minister, for a conference on “Tourism for Development.”

“The loan being requested for is for the Ministry to meet up its obligations to enable the Minister and members of his delegation attend the all-important Conference. The loan is not meant for the minister alone as personal expenses, but for the expenses of all members of the delegation,” Mr. Dama explained.

He said the conference was organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in conjunction with the government of the People’s Republic of China, under the overall theme “Tourism for Peace and Development.”

Mr. Dama said the conference would feature, amongst others, discussions on major issues for sustainable development, including the contribution of tourism to poverty reduction and peace, adding that it was a veritable platform to develop synergy and partnership with players in the global Tourism Industry, to boost the country’s drive to diversify the Nigerian economy.

He said the minister and the delegation would use the opportunity of the conference to hold discussions in China with set top box manufacturers meant to establish factories in Nigeria for the boxes for digital broadcasting processes, rather than the current situation where the boxes were being imported.

“This is meant to conserve our foreign exchange and to also create avenue for job creation for our citizens. It is clear that the conference is an all-important gathering that will benefit Nigeria, contribute towards diversification of its revenue base and create employment opportunities for Nigerians,” he said.

The statement said there was nothing unusual for an agency under a Ministry to assist in order to carry out government functions, adding that the request was discussed with the acting Director General of NBC, who agreed to assist with the loan before the letter was written.

“It is therefore shocking to find out that an internal memorandum from the Ministry could be leaked out to the social media by saboteurs in order to embarrass the government,” Mr. Dama said. (NAN)

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