Lai Mohammed: Government media operating under lots of constraints
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Thursday, said that government-owned media organisations were operating under lots of constraints due to lack of proper funding.
He made this known at an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of government media organisations at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
There were nine agencies in attendance including News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), among others.
Mohammed said that with the over 203 FRCN FM stations across the country, the agency was operating under lots of constraints.
“We know what to do to run FRCN and NTA profitably but we have an obligation to provide social services and create employment for Nigerian youths.
“We want to make money but we are constrained,” he said.
The Acting Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Mr Ibrahim Mammaga, said that as a federal government agency, the agency was 100 per cent financed by the government but until recently, the agency was not getting anything.
“Our responsibility is to educate just like FRCN, NTA. We operate in all the states of the federation with 28 district offices,” he said.
Mammaga, who said that with a staff strength of more than 500 that could compete with their counterparts around the world, the agency was still constrained by insufficient funds.
“Until recently when we established the multimedia unit, we don’t generate revenue. What we generate from our subscribers is too small to the extent that it will not finance one per cent of our operations.
“We have equipment in all the states of the federation, but the equipment are not working. If not for our laptops and smartphones, we will be in a difficult situation,” he said.
The acting MD, who noted that the agency provided content to its subscribers, decried that what was being generated from such clients was very meager.
“For instance in 2017, we were able to realise only N130 million and this cannot even pay our electricity bill,” Mammaga said.
He said that even though one of the challenges facing the agency was lack of proper funding, the agency had generated some money and remitted 25 per cent to the government.
On his part, Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) said that the agency was disseminating information through six zonal stations and FM stations across the country.
“We are suppose to have one FM station at least in each of the states of the federation because that was the policy back in 2003.
“Unfortunately, there are a few states where the funding was not provided. We are working to ensure that such stations are set up,” he said.
He said that the management of FRCN was doing everything to ensure that the FM stations were kept on air.
He said that FRCN could only generate money if the needed resources were made available.
A member of the committee, Senator Adedayo Adedeye, said that the information ministry was facing a challenge of managing information with the era of social media.
“The issue of fake news is very real. We need to find ways to tackle the menace,” he said.
Adeyeye, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, advised government to creatively find ways of managing information in the age of social media and proliferation of fake news.
He, however, urged the agencies to generate more revenue to run the stations and contribute revenue to the government.