The whistleblowing policy introduced by the Buhari administration is paying off as the federal government hinted yesterday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) had so far recovered over N540 billion from it.
Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who disclosed this yesterday at the 71st General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, also revealed that the EFCC had successfully launched a major onslaught on the high-and-mighty in the society, leading to the recovery of choice assets across the country.
The minister who was represented by the director of Public Relations and Protocol in the ministry, Mr Sunny Adejoh Baba, noted that the suspects include senior military officers and their civilian accomplices who had soiled their hands with shady deals.
“To this end, as at May this year, the EFCC, through the Whistle Blower Policy, has recovered over N527 billion, $53 million and £122,890,” he said.
Mohammed implored the media to align itself with the policies and programmes of the Buhari administration which, he said, are aimed at ridding the country of the cankerworm of corruption in order to free funds for development projects and uplift the standard of living of the citizenry.
“This effort should not be seen as the sole effort of Mr President or the government alone. The media has a duty to ensure that the programmes of government, meant to uplift the lots of the citizenry, are projected as a national cause and not just as that of Mr President or the administration,” the minister added.
He observed that the BON General Assembly was taking place at an auspicious time in view of the forthcoming general elections, even as he charged the broadcasting organisations not to yield their platforms to the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.
He said the broadcasting outfits should instead promote the unity, stability and the development of the country.
Mohammed said, “Anything short of this would amount to a criminal abdication of a sacred duty which could spell doom for our collective national life. We have had enough sordid examples to learn from that we ought not to allow a repeat at this critical time of our national development.
“It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the media and, specifically, broadcast media, do not allow itself to become a purveyor of fake news and hate speeches”.
He however restated the federal government’s commitment to allowing the press to carry out its assigned watchdog roles, just as he noted that government expects the press to be guided by national interest above every other interest.
The minister remarked that the launch of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in Jos in April 2016 underscored the administration’s determination to democratise the right to know, the right to knowledge and the right to be informed.
He further stated that the changing media landscape and the advent of digital technologies had fundamentally altered the nature and function of media in the society, and at times circumvent traditional media and challenging its privileged role as gate-keeper of news and entertainment.
The minister urged companies in the broadcasting value-chain to take advantage of the market and build local stations that would not only create employment for a diverse segment of the population, but also lead to a transfer of technology and free the creative dexterity of the young population.
…Rakes In N10.5bn From Savings Bond In 18 Months
Meanwhile, the Debt Management Office (DMO) disclosed yesterday that the federal government realised the sum of N10.5 billion from savings bond in 18 months.
Director-general of the DMO, Ms Patience Oniha, revealed this at the second day of the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) 2018 conference and annual general meeting hosted by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Pathways to Inclusive Growth in Africa , Digital Finance, Financial Literacy, Inclusion and Democratisation of Wealth’ Oniha said the amount was raised in the last 18 months since the creation of federal government savings bond in March 2017.
She noted that a total of 13,200 retail investors had been attracted to the market since the savings bond programme was introduced in March 2017 to boost domestic investors’ participation in the bond market.
“From the 18 months of the creation of the FGN Savings Bonds we have been able to raise N10.5 billion and attracted 13,200 retail investors into the market. As you know the DMO borrows on behalf of the government. One of our objectives is to be able to issue our securities in a timely manner and at a very minimal cost,” Oniha said.
She lamented that the fund raised and the number of investors were very minimal when compared to the amount government spent on enlightenment campaign.
According to her, a lot still needs to be done to strengthen financial inclusion of the federal government, adding that the target of the federal government of Nigeria in the Savings Bond had not actually been met.
The DG also hinted that DMO was presently studying the possibility of using phones as was being used in Kenya by investors to participate directly in the government securities.
While responding to questions on the use of technology in government securities, she said, “The issue around what technology can do in terms of raising capital is extremely important to us. We, traditionally for a long term, have been serving only a segment of the market, the institutional investors and foreign investors.
On his part, Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Mr Albert Wigwe, said that greater number of people could be reached with technology.
He noted: “There is a flow of huge technology changes. Today with technology, you can reach out to greater number of people and financial institutions are deploying technology to enhance service delivery.
“The traditional way to make money is vanishing, so we need to look at other ways to make money and cut cost. We have 65 per cent of Nigerians who are youths and they are important segment of the society. So, at Access Bank we are using technology to reach the youths and change how people transact business.
“Today, usage of cards is no longer on the increase because of increase in technology through phones. Today, you can use your phone to transact business even in the remote areas. So, we are using technology to influence consumer behaviours because competition and technology is pushing people to new ways of doing things”
Also speaking, the director-general of Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh, said that the major task of government was to create an enabling environment for business to strive.
“So our role is to create reform. Like in the telecommunications sector, we carried out reforms which have contributed to the growth of the telecom sector,” Okoh said.