Despite an economy in recession, the federal government plans to spend over one billion Naira on public relations and media lobby in 2017, a review of proposed allocations to the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture has revealed. If the government plans to do things the way they should be and fix the hard economy they have put Nigeria into, why would they need all that money to manipulate the press?
According to the proposals submitted last month to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari, the ministry wants to spend one billion, three hundred and fifty two million, one hundred thousand and twenty three thousand, nine hundred and eight Naira (N1,352,123,908) on schemes to influence citizens’ opinion, lobby local and foreign media and other public relations targets.
The ministry is headed by Lai Mohammed, a former spokesperson of the ruling All Progressives Congress. The ministry’s total budget proposal of N49,464,302,080 for 2017 is higher than the N45,162,776,886 it got last year.
It appears the funds budgeted for PR and other media targets, as well as some expenditures like “governance and institutional reforms” proposed to gulp N1.9 billion, are principally responsible for the increase.
In the 2017 budget proposal, Mr. Mohammed’s ministry proposes to spend N100 million on “foreign media PR/ lobby consultancy” and another N100 million to “interact with stakeholders” which, according to the ministry, include the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists, bloggers, online publishers and Newspapers Publishers Association of Nigeria.
While the government wants to use N100 million to organize “quarterly opinion polls”, it also budgets N270 million for town hall meetings.
The government also proposes to commit a sum N409, 240,600 on “grassroots public enlightenment campaign on government policies and programmes (including cost of production of materials and IEC on government achievements).”
Also, in 2017, Nigerians could see a lot of Mr. Mohammed or his paid nominees moving from one newspaper house to another and appearing on radio as well as television programmes hosted by “influencers and analysts.”