The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said a letter he endorsed requesting for a loan from National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to cover travelling expenses of a delegation to China was in order.
The position of the minister was contained in a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja by Mr. Peter Dama, the Director, Public Relations and Protocol in the Ministry.
The statement recalled that the letter to the NBC requesting for a loan of N13.12 million was mischievously leaked to the social media by staff of the commission.
The statement clarified that the loan was to cover tickets and travel expenses of a five-member delegation being led by the Minister to Beijing, China, 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.
“The Conference is being 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.
“It will feature amongst others, discussions on major issues for sustainable development including the contribution of Tourism to poverty reduction and peace.
“The Conference is a veritable platform to develop synergy and partnership with players in the global Tourism Industry which will go a long way in boosting our drive to diversify the Nigerian economy,” it stated.
The statement said that on the sideline of the conference, the delegation would have discussion in China with Set Top Box Manufacturers.
It stated that the manufacturers were meant to establish manufacturing factories in Nigeria for the boxes for digital broadcasting processes rather than the current situation in which 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,” it stated.
The statement said that it was not unusual for an agency under the Ministry to assist in order to carry out government functions.
It said 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, ” It said. ()