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Lai Mohammed

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

ABUJA — THE Federal  Government yesterday said it was ready to  look into the hardships and the challenges the media, especially print, was facing due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this after presenting a portrait of the Argungu festival to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Briefing State House correspondents, the Minister said he had a virtual meeting with the  Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, some time ago, adding that he was waiting for the association to make submissions to him on the challenges the print media was facing.

He said the Federal Government was willing to assist the media industry within its means to ameliorate the situation.

Alhaji Mohammed, who said government had done a few things to intervene in the broadcast subsector of the industry, added that government was waiting for NPAN to come forward with a submission on how government could help.

He said:  “Government has done a lot the media, especially the broadcast industry, during this pandemic.  ‘’The first thing we did was to give a waiver of two months payment of license fees to all broadcast houses, between May and July, after which we gave an amnesty as 60% discount or debt forgiveness, for all broadcast houses, except the Pay TVs, and also slashed by 30% the licensing fees because of the COVID-19.  I also met with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, we met virtually and I’m still waiting for them to come and make their submissions.

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“Definitely, the government is willing to look into the hardships and the challenges the media is facing and within our means to see how best we can intervene. I’m still waiting for the NPAN to come back to us to see what we can do to ameliorate the situation.”

The Minister also noted that the federal government was serious about developing the entire creative industry, especially because of the huge job potentialities it has, adding that President Buhari was particularly interested in the industry.

“This government is putting a lot of emphasis and promoting the creative industry, which is tourism, the hospitality industry, which is the music industry, the film industry, publishing and  broadcasting. “We’ll continue to support this industry and have Mr President’s support. He was quite excited about the portrait because he’s able to see what kind of jobs can be created through this cultural festivals,’’ Mohammed stated. said.

Speaking on why he met with President Buhari, the Minister said:   “I came today (yesterday) to make a presentation of a portrait of the Argungu festival to Mr President.

“You’ll recall that sometimes in February this year, after almost ten years of hiatus, the Argungu festival made a comeback. The Argungu festival is one of the two UNESCO recognised festivals and it’s on the UNESCO list of heritages.”

He said about 30,000 fishermen participated in the fishing festival, adding that the fisherman with best the biggest fish had the best price.

He commended Governor Atiku Bagudu for hosting the festival.



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