Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: Scrap the Ministry of Information (YNaija Frontpage)

Simply put, the Minister needs to see that scarce funds are being wasted on this pointless tour of states, which will not change any Nigerian’s perception of government performance.

As I watched the NTA network news on Thursday, November 1st 2012, I was caught between disgust at the unnecessary display of emptiness I was witnessing and shame for my country at how growth continues to be a foreign word for us. The Minister of Information was in Lafia to see the Nasarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura in continuance of his ‘Good Governance Tour’ of federal project sites across the country. While in the state, he was taken to a School of Nursing and Midwifery, which had just been constructed as well as some other federal road which according to the correspondent, had reached “40% completion”. Yes, I also wondered why something that was less than halfway completed, got mentioned as a sign of good governance.

The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku started this tour in Abuja and has continued on to most states in the North Central region since he began. The tour is supposed to bring to the consciousness of Nigerians, how much progress and ‘good governance’ governments at the federal (and state) levels, were bringing to their people. Basically, he shows up at a state capital, has brunch with the state governor, visits a few roads and schools under construction, talks into a camera with a lot of bravado and moves on to the next state. I am still yet to get the point. Especially since Professor Jerry Gana also embarked on a similar tour when he was in the same office under President Obasanjo, and nothing was achieved.

Besides the fact that the Minister probably has little or no knowledge of contract details when he gets to these sites; thus making it impossible for him to serve the small purpose of admonishing contractors who happen to be behind schedule, it is completely pointless to go round the country showing Nigerians signs of development, when things should speak for themselves; and so far, most of what Nigerians see, does nothing to speak well for the Federal Government. Federal roads in Lagos are eyesores. The Ibadan Expressway continues to claim lives as if it were a ‘Boko Haram’ on its own. Erosions (which are supposed to be under the purview of the Federal government’s ecological fund) continue to divide and devastate communities in the South East. The bad governance list is endless.

I remember a few years ago when Governor Nnamani was in charge at Enugu State. He bought a newspaper page virtually everyday to advertise his achievements in turning Enugu around. But whenever I visited the state, I was not sure where those things were. It was all noise with little or no action. His successor and current governor, has been the complete opposite media wise. But going to the state capital Enugu these days, leaves most Nigerians in awe of how serene and clean it has become. Simply put, the Minister needs to see that scarce funds are being wasted on this pointless tour of states, which will not change any Nigerian’s perception of government performance (especially since many don’t even have power to put on their TVs and see the tour on the NTA).

So what else does the Minister do besides this tour of a thing? He addresses the media every Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting. For that, I think the President has more than enough Media and publicity aides if need be. What else? The Minister oversees the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). Well, in a few months, it will be merged with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and transferred to the Ministry of Information Communications Technology. What else? The Federal Ministry of Information’s website says their mission is “To provide the citizenry with credible and timely information on government activities, programs and initiatives, while creating an enabling technological environment for the socio-economic development of the nation.” I’m sorry but this is 2012. Whatever is listed in that mission, can be handled by a website, social media and even phone SMS’s all handles by one or two people. We don’t need a whole ministry to do that.

It is time to start cut down government spending and evidently, this Ministry might just be a good place to start.

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Comments (18)

  1. Well said, we agree with the innovations but less say a concern citizen is betraying his ignorance. There are different views that need pump out the positivism in our nation's servants.

  2. Voltrons and vextrons everywhere. I daresay all these ones attacking Ebuka are paid internet trolls. Yes, the Ministry of Information has passed its time. We don't need a propaganda ministry. There is just so much lying one can do. Every Ministry has a spokesperson, the President has 2 for the Aso Rock. Why have another whole ministry for that?

    Infact, Ebuka, did not go far enough: we also need to break up NTA. Not only are they stifling creativity and growth in the TV broadcast industry with the undue competition they have cos of government funding, they are also past their time as a propaganda network. Lest i forget, they are also not profitable when you take apart the stations individually.

  3. Who's the US Minister of Information? They don't have one, because they don't have a Ministry of Information. A well run democracy does not need one.

    United Kingdom has had a Ministry of Information only twice in her history, during World War 1 and World War 2, when the government needed to respond effectively to German PROPAGANDA. Immediately after both wars ended, the government of the day immediately closed down the ministry.

    The point is that by definition, the Ministry of Information only exists to promote government propaganda, to give us all the illusion that all is well, when it isn't. I do not need a Ministry of Information to tell me whether Nigeria is a better place to live than it was 4 years ago. If government would spend the funds being expended on this ministry on executing actual projects, the country would be better for it.

  4. It seems most of the commenters here either have relatives who work in the Ministry of Information, or they have something against the writer? Why so personal? You're all missing the writer's point, which is that the Nigerian system is bloated with many duplicated and/or redundant functionaries. This is a simple fact that no sane and honest Nigerian should argue.

  5. This is definitely insightful,check it out.

  6. Nice article patriot. I am highly proud of youths like you who are making positive impact in the country with your insights and words of wisdom, keep it up.

  7. @Ebuka, your ignorance of the workings of governance and politics is grossly underestimated. I suggest you stick with your first love-show biz.

    What do you think is the job of a minister of information? To construct roads? Or to build new schools?

    Those who hired you to do this piece should have briefed you accordingly. They should have reminded you that the job of a Minister of information is to bridge the communication gap between the people and thier elected government.

    I watched the tour as well and was impressed that we have finally gotten a minister of information who knows his onions. instead of the usual sloganeering and propaganda of "Good People. Great nation", Maku is having Nigerians experience new frontiers in the art of information dissemination.

    The tour is a novelty intended to showcase efforts of govt at providing good leadership. Nobody is saying that we have arrived at Eldorado. The Minister admits this much and has severally bemoaned any failure noticed during the tour.

    The town hall component of the tour is a global practice and provides a platform for exchange of views between the people and their leaders. I advice you take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions about anything or govt projects you feel strongly about.

  8. Mmmm. Na wa o. Na so publicity dey hungry you so te u come put your picture.

    Your piece easily betrays you as an ill-informed attention-seeker who talks and fires without thinking.

    First of all if you had been patient enough to tune your ears to what Labaran has been saying all this while instead of lounging in wanton ignorance of what is happening in a country you apparently live and belong to, you wouldn't have goofed.

    First of all the NGGT is not about Federal Projects alone, but those embarked on by States and LGs even those that have to do with PPP.

    Two! FMI is responsible for other agencies other than NBC as you wrongly stated.

    Thirdly, you don't just open your mouth and begin to talk rubbish about things you don't have a clue to. When you talk of scrapping a whole Ministry like that of Information it is similar to saying there should not be admin officers again in the country. It is a professional ministry that has a cadre of officers that this country cannot do without, except you want to keep on contracting every job in this country and increase government spending which you claim to want to save 'banker'.

    Number 4 sir, the Minister, less you (obviously) failed to realize has been visiting both the good, bad and ugly projects as approved by Mr. President to get the status quo and bring all those responsible to answer for any irregularity.

    Even as you speak do you even know what developmental projects are happening allover the country. If Nigerians and the world are not informed about the various initiatives, how can investments be made? How can jobs be created and sought for? How can more opportunities be sourced? Abeg always look at the bigger picture and stop narrow mindedness (Oh! forgot na attention you dey find, no vex).

    Your type should not own newspaper o, na your picture we go dey see for cover and back page every day.

  9. This is indeed a statement born out of sheer ignorance and lack of knowledge, a complete show of myopic view towards the affairs of government… A display to portray falsehood to following the Good Governoance Tour as embark by the Minister of Information Mr. Labaran Maku, reason being that, the essence of the Tour he (ebuka) failed to see which is, to promote accountability, transparency and effectiveness on the part of the Government, the Contractors and the Electorates, to enable the evaluation of work done by the government.

    Canvassing for the abolition of the Ministry, goes further to defining how intellectually stunted your argument is. Which government runs without the Ministry of Information, seen as the mouth piece of a government.

  10. You are really biased ,my brother and I can't believe this is coming from you.The Ministry of Information exists to facilitate a two-way free flow of timely and reliable information and feedback between the Government and its various publics and to assist in the development, co-ordination of policy; to monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes and project by the administration, which the present ministry is doing from all you mentioned in your article. So, I really don't understand your reasoning

  11. It is perhaps no surprise that arguments as absurd as the ones advanced above rose to limelight or perhaps more rightly public opprobrium through the infamous big brother reality show; the biggest show of lewdness, banality, debauchery and lasciviousness ever viewed on television. The writer is also ill informed and this further reflects in the paucity of his rather lame arguments. Firstly, the good governance tour is a brainchild of the ministries of Information, National Planning and with collaboration of the Nigerian Governors' forum. The essence is to provide a platform for the people to critically evaluate the performances of not just the Federal, but government at all levels as they seek to deliver dividends of democracy to the people. The tour will also provide the National Planning ministry with scarce demographic information that will aid the govt in planning and implementation of projects that will bring about govt presence and development to the greatest possible number of people. Even the most casual observer will have noticed that the tour has also been accompanied by town hall meetings in each of the states visited where govt officials have been grilled and taken to task on issues of government and governance by civil society groups, the press , market women, artisans and even youths via various social media platforms. The tour is deepening democracy and making government more accountable to the people. How can anyone not see that the greatest beneficiaries of this tour are the people of this Country who have been given the opportunity to participate actively in governance through this tour.

  12. Ebuka, I used to see you as a brilliant young man but your write up has just proven me wrong. Where in the world have you seen a government without an information ministry? And for the tour, if at this point you still can't see a reason for it, then you are a very dull dude. Atleast, I have been able to know that Jos is not as bad as people say it. They are lots of projects and development going on there. And some states, are trying to round up projects just by hearing that their states are next for the tour.

  13. Y cal som1 empty vessel?dts bad.

  14. Nice write up and my exact sentiments on the huge cost of governance in Nigeria! Guess these guys in Abuja have run out of ideas on how to spend taxpayers money with this new ridiculous "good governance tour"! Fooling the people some of the time? Fooling the people all of the time? *smh*

  15. Nice write up Ebuka!!! Too much of falsehood, mediocrity and fan-fare in government!! We need sincere leadership!! These men build pathetic public schools that their own children can never set foot on! They will bring to us an 18th century railway system that they can't afford to risk their own lives or comfort patronizing. Our leaders are really full of deceit! They are unfair to us.

  16. Yet another empty vessel ,looking for name by abusing government, what on earth is wrong with Ministers informing the people about projects being executed on their behalf ? Not everybody needs to write , especially when they have nothing to say

  17. God bless you Ebuka Obi-Uchendu. In my own opinion, we need no review of some of the activities of the bottlenecks which we have considered less privileged on the task of creatively discharge the duty of nation-building. If I were you, with quality time to write this kind of long piece, I'd rather tell Labaran what and how he suppose to handle the "state's tour" rather than building on his shortcomings. We've long discovered their inabilities and we need no emphasising on it. Nigeria's Youth like yourself has what it takes to survive majority of them come 2015 and more maximum sweep by 2019. We can do better. Once again, thanks for your time. @realayoolaniyi

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail