IPOB Is “Dead and Gone” – Lai Mohammed

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has stated that the successful conduct of the governorship election in Anambra state last Saturday shows that the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, is dead and gone.

According to the Information Minister, the turnout of voters during the polls has diminished the IPOB.

Lai Mohammed said this while addressing reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital on Wednesday, against reported call by the pro-Biafra group for indigenes to stay away on the election day.

His words, “I think what that proved really is that IPOB does not represent the good people of Anambra or any state in the South East.

He said the IPOB propaganda about the election really showed that they are not on ground.

“The people of Anambra have shown that there is no alternative to democracy and that they believe in one Nigeria and federal system of government. If there are issues to be resolved, let us resolve it. But terrorism and separatism is not the answer.

“I think the Anambra election has sounded the death knell on IPOB because they said election will never hold. The election has come and gone, the turnout was quite reasonable.

“Every party competed very competitively and at the end of the day, the people of Anambra have decided who is going to be their governor.”

Our Administration Will Continue To Support Entertainment Industry – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said President Muhammodu Buhari administration will provide the needed facilities for the entertainment industry to thrive in the country.

This statement was said on the sideline of the 4th All African Music Awards (AFRIMA) 2017 in Lagos.

In his statement, he acknowledged that the current administration is always in support of the entertainment industry by providing infrastructural facilities.

On the significance of the AFRIMA to Nigeria’s economy and entertainment industry, Mohammed said that in order to encourage the entertainment industry, government would partner with private investors to invest more in the entertainment facilities.

“The entertainment industry is overwhelming in the world right now and in Nigeria, we need to do more in providing right atmosphere which is infrastructural facilities for the industry.

“We are not just talking about power sector or water, we are talking about entertainment. We need to be on purpose, build halls that will encourage our artists and musicians.

“We are talking about domestic tourism, domestic market where we can really expose our artists, so this will not only be about government but also private sector to provide the infrastructure.

“On the part of government, we will encourage more private sector and philanthropists all over the world because it is not something we leave to government alone,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that hosting of event such as AFRIMA was another way of generating income for the government because of the tourism factor which could bring more earnings.

“Nigeria is having this event now, AFRIMA 2017, and we are talking about bringing another way of improving our economy through other income.

“We must not forget that Nigeria hosted same award last year and we have to make another positive request for this year so that it can remain in Nigeria.

“We thank the African Union (AU) for this opportunity for accepting Nigeria, to host it again this year. We are also grateful to Lagos State government for the support of this award.

“The positive thing about the award is that we have been able to move the music industry from the back corner to the front burner,’’ he said.
Mohammed said that the concentration would not be placed only on agriculture or oil and gas, but also on creative industry as a means of diversifying the economy.

“This means when we are talking about economy, we are not just talking about agriculture, solid mineral or construction but actually more in the creative industry.

“Nigeria already has a very high advantage, and we can see that recently with the awards Nigerian are getting in the industry and most recent of the Wizkid award in U.K.

“This shows the kind of influence we can have in the creative industry which can be positive to our economy,’’ he said.

We Are Succeeding In Cleaning PDP’s Rots, Plundering – FG

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has stated at a media briefing on Sunday that the Federal Government is succeeding in the “tough” task of cleaning up the rots, looting, impunity and plundering of the nation’s economy, perpetrated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He said “Our commonwealth was looted with impunity by the same people who now say they want to come back.

“Indeed, it will not just be a tragedy, but a double tragedy, if we ever allow these same people to preside over our commonwealth.

“Where do we start? Do we want a Diezani back as Petroleum Minister, after the recovery of at least 43 million dollars and 56 houses from this one person?

“Do we want the 2.9 billion dollars that has been successfully traced and recovered from looters by the EFCC since the inauguration of the present administration, to be re-looted?

“What about the 151 million dollars and N8 billion in looted funds that have been recovered from just three sources as a direct result of the introduction of the whistle-blower policy?

“As the pace of politics gradually picks up ahead of 2019, it is important that we let Nigerians know the enormous progress that the Buhari administration has made in just a little over two years.

“It is a mark of the contempt in which the PDP holds Nigerians that the party is even talking of returning to power, even when the rot it left behind is yet to be totally cleared.

“Never again must Nigeria be bedeviled by a rapacious, impunity-prone and plunderous party like the PDP.”

Specifically, the minister said that with the enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, N3 trillion had accrued to government purse, having successfully removed the N108 billion in maintenance fees payable to banks, pre-TSA and monthly saving of N24.7 billion.

The minister said that N120 billion had also been saved with the elimination of thousands of ghost workers in the system.

Mohammed also shared an example of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), which only remitted about N51 million under PDP, whereas in September 2017, the same JAMB announced it was ready to remit N7.8 billion.

Google Maps Will Boost Tourism in Nigeria- Lai Mohammed

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has stated on Friday at the launch of the Economic Value of Geospatial Services in Nigeria that the nation needs to leverage on technology, particularly digital mapping and Street Views to boost tourism in Nigeria.

He said “As we look to make Nigeria a major tourism destination in Africa, technologies such as Google Maps, but more specifically Street View put forward by Google, will become increasingly important on that front. We hope to see even more value as increasing numbers of people use tools like Google Street View to explore Nigeria,” he said.

“We know this because we’ve seen the impact that Street View has had in destinations around Africa. In South Africa, for instance, people can take a guided tour of Robben Island, the prison which held Nelson Mandela and many other South African freedom fighters during apartheid”.

“In Kenya, meanwhile, users can take virtual treks through some of the country’s most famous game reserves. And in Tanzania, people can get up close and personal with the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park as a result of partnership between Google and the Jane Goodall foundation”.

“These are all examples of how giving people a taste of a place they have not visited is a powerful incentive to get them to experience the reality. We look forward to doing the same in Nigeria, as we show off our own natural and cultural heritage.

“It also promotes and encourages patronage of local agriculture and creative industries as well as manufactured products by operators in the tourism industry. That’s especially important as we look to cement our place as Africa’s largest economy”.

He also stated that “Events such as this one offer a powerful reminder of how impactful partnerships between government and private companies like Google can be – to grow our local businesses and strengthen our economy. If digital mapping services have made such a difference in the last five years, we can only imagine what the next five will bring. We look forward to growing this fruitful relationship in the coming years and seeing what Google comes up with next”.

Meanwhile, Mr Dirk Friedrich said the lead product which is Street View and google map is being used by about 1 billion people worldwide monthly. “At Google we are always looking towards Nigeria, trying to make the service easier, especially, the mapping. Also, the service of mapping has reduced traffic in affected cities, created jobs among other benefits”, he said.

FG to Reveal Account Details of IPOB Sponsors

The Federal Government has disclosed that it will reveal to the French Government account details of the sponsors of terrorist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). It was learnt that the Federal Government had asked the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and the Central Bank of Nigeria to compile the needed information on the sponsors and hand it over to the French government.

According to a report by Punch, The French Government has reached out to the FG over IPOB, requesting for account details and any other evidence showing that France was where the majority of IPOB’s funds was coming from.

“So, the government has accepted that challenge and we will be instructing the NFIU, SCUML and the CBN to hand over all the details of IPOB’s funding to us in one comprehensive report which will be submitted to the French Government.

“Since IPOB has been declared a terrorist organisation by a court in Nigeria, the French Government, which claims to be against Nigeria’s break-up, is expected to give us maximum cooperation.”

Initially, the FG had said that France was IPOB’s headquarters but the French government said it had no knowledge of IPOB’s presence in France. This prompted Nigeria to explain that it wasn’t accusing France of being a sponsor of IPOB but that a large transfer of funds were made regularly to IPOB in Nigeria from France, as well as from Turkey, Senegal, Malaysia, Hong Kong, United Kingdom and the United States.

Treasury Looters, Political Disgruntled Behind IPOB – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is being sponsored by certain disgruntled elements to sabotage the Buhari Administration, under the guise of fighting for the rights of the people of the South-east.

”Nigerians must understand that IPOB was not set up to fight for the right of anyone or group, but as a tool to destabilize the nation, divert attention from the efforts of the Buhari Administration and obliterate the laudable achievements of the Government,” the Minister told a press conference in Lagos on Sunday.

”IPOB is being sponsored by those I will call the Coalition of the Politically Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters. They believe that by sponsoring this group to destabilize the country and trigger chaos, they will realize their ambition of escaping justice and then be free to dip their hands into the nation’s treasury again,’‘ he said.

Alhaji Mohammed wondered why the activities of IPOB became heightened with the advent of this Administration, saying: ”If this is coincidental, then that coincidence is uncanny, at the least. Remember that Nnamdi Kanu, who led a protest at the Nigeria House in London against Boko Haram insurgency and in support of Nigeria’s unity, under the Jonathan Administration, has suddenly metamorphosed into an IPOB monster who will rather set the nation ablaze.”

He said IPOB thrived on exploiting the nation’s fault lines, and that its modus operandi ”is to trigger conflagration nationwide through attacks and reprisals”.

”Thankfully, IPOB has failed in its evil machinations. The good people of Nigeria have seen beyond those cheap tactics and have avoided being incited against one another. We must remain vigilant and resolute. We must all say no to the incendiary and divisive tendencies of IPOB and its cohorts,” he said.

The Minister commended the Nigerian military for labeling IPOB a terrorist organization and for checkmating the group, and the South-east Governors for proscribing the organization.

”But for (the military’s) quick and decisive intervention, IPOB could have set the nation on fire. Thanks to the decisiveness of the military, today the Governors of the states in the South east have wisely proscribed IPOB,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed accused IPOB of harvesting gory videos from the distant past and from other lands to deceive the international community that the people of the South-east are victims of state-sponsored ethno-sectarian violence, describing such tactics as ”’lies and propaganda”.

”Such videos, which have very high emotive quotient, are circulating on the Social Media. We call on all to subject such videos to the greatest scrutiny so as not to be misled. In particular, we urge the international community not to jump to any conclusion on the basis of such videos,” he said.

The Minister also appealed to the media to show greater restraint and avoid sensationalism in their reporting of the military exercise, Operation Python Dance II, in the South-east.

”The divisive and jaundiced opinions of some anarchists have been given a big play by a section of the media. This is wrong. Let me remind all of us of the role of the media, especially the radio, in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that left about 800,000 people dead,” he said, adding that the Nigerian media cannot afford to sit on the fence or engage in irresponsible journalism when the issue at stake is the very survival of the nation.

 

Buhari’s Trip To U.S. Is Fake News- Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the ‘news’ of President Buhari’s trip to the United States next year is fake news and has called o Nigerians to disregard the news.

In a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the minister, Mr Segun Adeyemi, The minister said one of the numerous parody Twitter accounts in his name — “@MohammedLai”, was used to announce that President Buhari would leave Nigeria for the U.S. on Monday ”to condole with President Donald Trump over the floods in Houston”.

“This is a 2015 NTA News video that was repackaged to look current, and to give the impression that the President left Daura, where he is celebrating Eid el-Kabir, directly for New York.”

“Numerous parody accounts have been opened in my name on the two platforms, when indeed I have no Twitter or Facebook account.”

Referring to a similar recent incident where a parody account in the minister’s name criticised embattled Senator Dino Melye, Mohammed added that “fake news, disinformation and hate speech are the antics of the naysayers, those who are pathologically opposed to this administration. That is why we are urging Nigerians to be more discerning and to double check any information emanating from Social Media.”

Lai Mohammed Urges FCC To Enlighten Nigerians

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has challenged the Federal Character Commission during a visit to him by some of the commission’s officials to mount a campaign to enlighten Nigerians on their activities as well as the on spread of federal appointments.

Mohammed said “Nigerians need to know and appreciate what you are doing, and I think we need more of this interaction. At our level at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, we will very readily partner with you in the area of enlightenment campaigns because it is going to unite the country better. Once the people have a sense of belonging, then it’s the recipe for unity.

“To do so, you must invest in advocacy, interactions and visits like this.”

“It is gladdening to note here that the objective and the mandate of the Commission go beyond just ensuring that there is a balance, equity and fairness in the federal ministries and parastatals, but that you are also very duly concerned about the spread of infrastructure. I think the two mandates are very important and germane to the unity,
stability and peace of this country,” he stated.

In his response, Secretary of the FCC and leader of the delegation that visited Mohammed, Tukur said “The second mandate of the Commission also extends to the aspect of distribution of socio-economic amenities and infrastructure in the country, and this is one key area that most people have not focused on and we want to focus more on that in the Federal Character Commission now.”

Hate Speeches and Lessons of Rwanda By Lai Mohammed

It was Gina Greenlee who said ‘’experience is a master teacher, even if it is not our own.’’  I am sure many  have heard or read about how hate speeches and incitement to violence played a significant role in the 1994 genocide that left at least 800,000 people dead in Rwanda. Well, it is worth rehashing here for the purpose of this discourse.

 

Anti-Tutsi articles and cartoons in the Kangura newspaper, as well as hate speech and incitement to violence on the radio station called RTLMC – Radio-Television Libres des Mille Collines (Thousand Hills Free Radio and Television) helped to set the stage for that genocide. The station was set up by hard-line Hutu extremists, and received the backing of many rich and prominent people in that country. Those who saw the danger posed by the station called for it to be shut down, but against the backdrop of freedom of speech, such calls fell on deaf ears, until it was too late. Some 23 years later, Rwanda is yet to fully recover from the impact of the genocide, triggered by hate speech and senseless incitement to violence.

In Nigeria today, the hate being spewed on radio stations across the country is so alarming. If you tune into many radio stations, you will be shocked by the things being said, the careless incitement to violence and the level of insensitivity to the multi-religious, multi-ethnic nature of our country. Unfortunately, even the hosts of such radio programmes do little or nothing to stop. Oftentimes, they are willing collaborators of hate speech campaigners. This must not be allowed to continue because it is detrimental to the unity and well-being of our country.

 Let me use my own personal experiences to make these more vivid. On Wednesday, 26 April 2017, after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, I briefed State House Correspondents on what transpired at the meeting. I said, among others, that President Muhammadu Buhari did not preside over the day’s meeting because he decided to work from home that day. In reporting my briefing, one of the correspondents quoted me as saying the President would work from home henceforth, rather than on that day only. The reporting generated a lot of uproar, until I issued a rebuttal. This is a clear case of disinformation – which is defined as false information deliberately spread to deceive the people.

The following month, after I had briefed State House Correspondents on the proceedings of another Council meeting, one newspaper’s headline went thus: ‘’We do not know who will sign the 2017 budget – Lai Mohammed.’’ This is at variance with what I said.

When I was asked a question relating to the signing of the 2017 budget, my exact words were: ‘’When it is transmitted to the Presidency, a decision will be taken.’’ The reporting is another clear case of disinformation.

Also in May 2017, I travelled to China on official assignment. I had just arrived in that country, after a long flight, when I started receiving calls from Nigeria, seeking my reaction to a story making the rounds in the Social Media, quoting me as saying that though President Muhammadu Buhari is in a London hospital, he is using Made-in-Nigeria drugs. I purportedly made the comment in an interview with Channels Television, after the Federal Government’s launch of the Made-in-Nigeria campaign in Abuja a few days earlier. At first, I chose to ignore the story, saying Nigerians would easily see the folly of it. But the phone calls from Nigeria became more frequent and more intense, to such an extent that they could no longer be ignored. I had to put a call through to Mr. John Momoh, and Channels Television promptly issued a rebuttal, saying it neither interviewed me nor carried any such story. This is a clear case of fake news.

Many will also recall the quantum of hate speech directed at candidate Buhari during the last electioneering campaign. Never in the history of electioneering campaign in Nigeria has such a quantum of hate speech been directed at any candidate.

Many will also recall the quantum of hate speech directed at candidate Buhari during the last electioneering campaign. Never in the history of electioneering campaign in Nigeria has such a quantum of hate speech been directed at any candidate. This did not stop even when he won the election and became President. For instance, the President had hardly left Nigeria for his vacation in London on 19 January 2017, during which he said he would have routine medical check-up, when these hate and fake news campaigners circulated the news that he has died. Between then and now, they have repeated similar fakes news times without number.

Let me be clear: all the instances I have cited did not happen by accident. No! They were all orchestrated. And who better to target than the President himself, or the official spokesperson of his government! The campaign is a multi-million naira project and the people behind this string of hate speech, disinformation and fake news are not about to stop. In fact, they will become more vicious in the days, weeks and months ahead. And what is the purpose of their campaign? Simply to discredit the government, destabilise the polity and make the country ungovernable. There is no doubt that the resurgent push for separatism as well as rising cases of ethnic and religious disharmony are all traceable to the growing phenomenon of hate speech, as well as the disinformation and fake news campaign.

A section of the traditional media is also now thriving on anti-government tendency. If you pick up copies of some newspapers, you will think the government of the day is doing nothing at all to alleviate the sufferings of the people, occasioned by the economic downturn

 

During my visit to the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) House in Lagos, I had said that any programme tagged Nigerian or local content programme, which is meant for the consumption of Nigerians, must be produced in Nigeria, rather than in foreign countries. The hate speech, disinformation and fake news campaigners quickly distorted what I said and went ahead to report that the Federal Government has decided to ban the production of music videos and films outside the countries. Gullible and malleable commentators, many of them recruited by the campaigners, went to town abusing me and the federal government, without even trying to know the truth. Such is the tragedy of our time.

Now, what do these phenomena of hate speech, disinformation and fake news have in common? They are all capable of destabilising the system, inciting people to violence and weakening the people’s confidence in their government, just like I said earlier. Let me quote how a German newspaper described this phenomenon: ‘’For a society in which people are informed mainly through the media – and form their political opinions through it – this process is threatened when lies spread through the media. When it is no longer clear what is false and what is correct, people lose their confidence in the state’’.

Nigeria is a country of ethnic and religious diversity. That should be a source of strength, if the fault lines are not deliberately being exposed and exploited by those who are bent on setting the people against themselves, using their new-found tools of hate speech, disinformation and fake news.

This dangerous trend is threatening the very foundation of our national unity. It is daily pushing the nation close to the precipice, perhaps more than at any other time since the end of the civil war.

What is the way out? We all must say NO to hate speech, either on our radio and television stations, newspapers, the Social Media, on our phones or in the public space. We must be resolute in tackling the canker-worm of hate speech, disinformation and fake news. We as government information managers must embark on a relentless campaign against these evil tendencies at our various levels, whether federal or state. We must boycott any medium that engages in hate speech, incitement to violence, disinformation and fake news. The regulators must also be alive to their responsibilities by promptly sanctioning the purveyors of hate speech, disinformation and fake news. Yes, our constitution allows freedom of speech and this government believes in it, but freedom of speech must not be allowed to become freedom of irresponsibility.

We are also appealing to the media, the traditional media in particular, to show responsibility by repudiating the freewheeling and out-of-control purveyors of hate speech, disinformation and fake news. Unlike the Social Media, the traditional media is subject to the rigours of accuracy, fact-checking and fairness, among others. Sadly, even a section of the traditional media now apes the hate campaigners by lifting their unverified or distorted news and dumping such on their readers. This is not right.

A section of the traditional media is also now thriving on anti-government tendency. If you pick up copies of some newspapers, you will think the government of the day is doing nothing at all to alleviate the sufferings of the people, occasioned by the economic downturn. They ignore any positive actions of government, including the massive investment in infrastructure like roads and railways, and instead focus on anything that will make the government look bad.

Instead of reporting the news freely and fairly, they have constituted themselves to an opposition bloc.

It is only because we have a peaceful country that we have journalists, doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc all practising their trade. If we allow our country to be plunged into crisis just because of the antics of an irresponsible few, neither the journalists nor any other professionals will be able to practise their professions. This is the blunt truth. We all have a stake in this country, hence we must not allow hate campaigners and purveyors of fake news and disinformation to drag the country down with them.

*Excerpted from  a speech by Mohammed,  Minister of Information and Culture , at the extra-ordinary meeting of the National Council on Information in Jos on 21 July 2017.

Police To Join Fight Against Film, Music Piracy

The Nigeria Police is to set up an anti-piracy unit in all the 36 states of the Federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory to combat the piracy of intellectual property in the country, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, announced in Abuja on   Monday.

He made the announcement following a request from the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who led a delegation of Creative Industry stakeholders on a courtesy visit to his office.

The I.G nominated three senior police officers, including two Deputies Inspector-General of Police, Force CID and Operations, to work with the Ministry of Information and Culture as well as the stakeholders to prepare a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the renewed and sustained battle against piracy.

”The time for talk is over, we should go into action,” Mr. Idris said.

Earlier, the Minister said he led the creme de la creme, movers and shakers of the Creative Industry to meet with the Inspector-General to solicit his support for a sustained fight against piracy, which is preventing the practitioners from reaping the rewards of their labour.

”I want to thank the police for helping us to combat piracy and to  solicit for more cooperation in the fight against piracy,” he said.

”Piracy is a crime. You cannot take the sweat, labour and intellectual work of an individual, reproduce and sell it without his or her consent.”

Alhaji Mohammed extolled the contribution of the Creative Industry to the nation’s development, saying it contributes 1.42% of the GDP, employs millions of people and puts Nigeria on the global map.

”The works of actors, actresses, musicians, fashion designers, etc, have travelled widely and they (practitioners) are good Ambassadors of Nigeria. However, their industry is under threat and we must find a way to save it,” he said.

The Minister said he recently hosted Creative Industry stakeholders at a roundtable and a conference, and that the biggest complaint from both meetings was the negative impact of the activities of piracy on the industry.

Alhaji Mohammed said the stakeholders in the Creative Industry have resolved to support the police to achieve the goal of stamping out  piracy.

The Minister was accompanied by the Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Mr. Yusuf Abdallah, Prof. Shyllon Folarin, a Consultant with UNESCO, Mr. Tony Okoroji, Chairman of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Abdullahi Maikano Usman, President, Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPAN), the Umbrella body of film makers in the North, MOPAN’s  immediate past President Sani Muazu, Prof. Bankole Sodipo of Babcock University, Ms Tundun Aderibigbe of the House of Tara, Ms Eunice Omole of Ebony Life TV as well as officials from Nollywood and Inview  Technologies.

 

 

Source: The Nations

It’s Sad Nigerian Children Can’t Write, Read In Mother Tongue ―Lai

Alhaji Lai Mohammed Minister of Information and Culture, has decried the dwindling inability of most Nigerian children to write and read in their mother tongues.

He made this known in Kaduna on Monday at the 2017 edition of the Annual Round Table on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO), organised by National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

To this end, he maintained that there was the urgent need to curtail the trend of indigenous language extinction.

He said the language should go digital on various Internet platforms where youths and children are familiar with, so that they could begin to pick up their mother tongue from such electronically devices.

He however, commended NICO for its work in the promotion of Nigerian languages over the years, and particularly for working tirelessly to ensure that this programme became  a reality.

While, reiterating the commitment of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to accord Nigerian culture, its pride of place in developmental agenda, he stressed that , “We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that our cherished cultural legacies and values are transmitted from one generation to another.”

“The importance of indigenous language to national development cannot be over-emphasised. Language is the soul of culture; it is an indispensable tool for the promotion and preservation of culture. We cannot be genuinely committed to the promotion of our culture without addressing the serious issue of language endangerment and extinction.

“There is no gainsaying the fact that our indigenous languages are endangered and if urgent steps are not taken, they will go into extinction in no distant future.

“Situation reports show that there is a remarkable decline in the usage of our indigenous languages by our children and youths; many of them cannot read or write in their mother tongue.

“This is not surprising because, according to Nigerian writer Prof. Akachi Adimora-Ezigbo, indigenous languages have been labelled as “vernacular” or “garbage” and as such, most African children in primary and secondary schools are even punished for speaking their mother tongues. That should never be the case.

“It has been my desire since I assumed duties as Honourable Minister to convene a strategic stakeholders’ meeting tounderscore the relevance of the indigenous language newspapers and to engineer a road map for their sustenance in the face of formidable challenges. This explains why one of my first assignments in office was to visit identifiable indigenous newspapers like Alaroye, Iroyin Owuro, Rariya, Aminiya and Leadership Hausa.

“The visits convinced me, more than ever, that indigenous language newspapers have a vital role to play in reviving the fortunes of our endangered languages, if their potentials are maximised.

“The way forward is to fashion out strategies to address the problem. We must take urgent steps to encourage parents to ensure that their children are taught our indigenous languages. The teaching and learning of Nigerian indigenous languages as contained in the National Policy in Education must be fully implemented. Various platforms, such as the indigenous language newspapers, which promote the use of indigenous languages, should be supported and sustained.

“Beyond encouraging the teaching of indigenous languages to young people, a critical catalyst remains the engagement of young people via platforms popular with them. I am talking about, for example, translating our incredible treasure trove of literature, brimming with exciting classics such as The Lion and the Jewel, The Passport of Mallam Illia and Things fall apart not only into indigenous languages but also by adapting those classics into comics, graphic novels, TV shows as well as animated and live action feature films.

“These remain extremely popular media, especially among those aged below 30 years and who form a massive 70% of the population, where the storytelling is primed to excite, engage and enlighten. Indeed, not only will this optimise access to the wondrous worlds and richly realized characters teeming in these works, the exercise stands to reintroduce the younger generation to the rich and remarkable mosaic that is Nigerian culture, instill and inspire in them a strong bond with said culture as well as facilitate a greater understanding of their cultural identity and place in the world.

“The role of the electronic media in disseminating, aggregating and curating our indigenous languages cannot be overemphasised. There is serious potential in the plethora of programmes on radio, television and on the web to spread the comprehension, appreciation and adoption of indigenous languages.

“Still on the theme of electronically engaging the youth, it is imperative to deploy digital tools in ensuring the survival of our indigenous languages. Today, social media, YouTube, texting and specially developed applications for use on mobile devices are being used to attract young people to learning ‘endangered languages’.

“There are also websites and online forums where people can interact and optimise their knowledge of those languages. Those solutions are worth exploring seriously. An aggressive, digital approach to the challenges of preserving our indigenous languages for posterity will definitely yield great dividends especially among the youth.”