$500M: Lai Mohammed speak on China loan

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has revealed that the 500 million dollar loan being sought from China is not for the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) alone.

The Country’s Information and Culture Minister made the clarification in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, while briefing journalists on the controversies surrounding the proposed loan for the projects.

Mohammed said the loan was for three major projects contrary to the hysteria created over it in a section of the media.

He said it was reported in some sections of the media while defending the loan before the National Assembly that the loan was for the upgrades of facilities to enable NTA compete with the likes of America’s Cable Network News, CNN.

According to him,” In an era of social media, the real news is usually sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism and disinformation.

“That’s how I will describe the hysteria, in a section of the media, over the reportage of the 500 million dollars loan being sought from China’’.

The minister said the loan would be used to construct a headquarters complex and transmission network for Integrated Television Services (ITS), the Federal Government-owned signal distributor and a major component of the country’s Digital Switchover (DSO)

He said the fund would also be used to build an ultra-modern Media City in Ikorodu, Lagos State, to include Indoor/Outdoor shooting area, Animation Production Facility and Digital Media Training Centre.

Mohammed also hinted that other facilities in the city would include World Class Cinema, Four-Star Hotel, an Amusement Park and Amphi-theatre.

The minister further said the loan would also be used for acquisition of digital movie production equipment for rental as well as power system

He disclosed that the Media City Training Academy was only the second of its type in Africa and the first is in Egypt.

He said the facilities would be used to train Nigerian broadcasters and filmmakers in the production of high-quality media content programmes and make Nigeria a hub for digital movie production in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The minister also disclosed that the loan would be used for digitization of all NTA Stations at the Headquarters, 12 zonal stations, the 36 States and FCT as well as 78 community stations.

He said the fund would also be used to upgrade, purchase and install relevant digital TV broadcasting equipment compatible with DSO products and accessories.

Mohammed stressed that the equipment was necessary for the production and broadcast of digital programme contents in addition to the provision of power and manpower training.

While reacting to the accusation by Amnesty International that the military burnt some villages and displaced residents in the Northeast, the Minister called on the human rights body to stop attacking the Nigerian Army while they fight Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast.

He urged the human rights body to stop attacking its military men and casting them as “the bad guys” while they prosecute the war against terrorists.

“I am aware that the Defence Headquarters has responded appropriately to this accusation. The military denied razing down villages and detaining locals unlawfully; that it does not employ arson as an operational tactic; and that looting and burning of villages is the style of Boko Haram terrorists.

“I will like to add that in carrying out their duties, Amnesty International should not cast themselves in the league of Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists. They should stop the growing practice of constantly attacking the military and casting them as the bad guys when all they are doing is putting their lives on the line to fight terrorists who have no respect for the sanctity of life, who willfully go after women and children, who attack houses of worship without respect or allegiance to any religion.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

“Amnesty International should stop providing succor for terrorists by attributing their atrocities to our troops. Our soldiers, who are defending the country, are guided by extant rules of engagement and operational codes of conduct. They should not be made to look like the aggressors here.

“I am aware that the Federal Government has always taken seriously any allegation of rights violation by soldiers or other security forces. Investigations have been carried out and culprits, if any”, the minister stated.