The Senate Committee on Information and National Orientation, on Tuesday, queried the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, over how the ministry expended N19m on international travel during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Mohammed appeared before the Senate Committee on Tuesday to defend the 2021 budget estimates of his ministry.
Trouble started when the Senator representing Imo East, Ezennwa Onyewuchi, asked Mohammed how N19m out of the N43m meant for international travels in 2020 was utilised during the period of lockdown.
Onyewuchi said, “On international travels and transport you had N43m and you expended N19m.
“So I am wondering this period of lockdown where nobody was able to go to any country during the 2020 appropriation, how were you able to embark on international travels and you expended N19m.”
Mohammed, in his response, said the international travels were undertaken before the COVID-19 lockdown.
He said, “You will notice that N43m was budgeted but less than 40 per cent was spent precisely because of the COVID-19 and before then.
“Remember that we had travelled to attend several international summits starting UNWTO conference, UNESCO in Spain and in the UK. We also did advocacy in the UK at the same time. These were all before the lockdown.
Mean while , The challenges apparent in mostly sub-Saharan Africa aren't oblivious to the leaders; they only chose to look the other way as they are consumed with personal gains, hence protesting does wonders.
When the youths of Nigeria stepped out to demand what is rightly theirs, which was the right to life, to be treated as fellow humans, our voice was heard as soon as possible, and changes were made or were promised to be made.
And if we go about all that troubles us in Nigeria and other African countries like this, things would change faster because our politicians are lazy or chose to be unless when compelled by forces beyond their control to take action.
Africans are too relaxed. We are known to suffer and smile. We pray persistently, expecting the higher powers to magically alter the minds of our leaders to treat us right.
But these same leaders are our brothers; we attend the same church or mosque; why should we wait for God to take control? The said leader(s) is right here. If he can't do his job, let him leave so someone else can take over; peaceful and persistent protests bring quick results.
If you were to write letters or complain as an individual, you would write until thy kingdom come.
Here in Nigeria, the success of a protest depends mainly on those who are not protesting; the ones who don't care, and the ones who wait patiently to hijack such movements for personal gains, and that's what played out in the EndSars protest:
The Nigerians who didn't care much about police brutality were tired of sitting at home, they want to return to their businesses, but the roads are blocked; this set of people will fight you even before the military steps in.
The second set is the hijackers, hungry or angry Nigerians who wait for such opportunities to unleash their ingenuity in stealing and destruction.
The last set is the government employing the military to do their dirty job.
The Nigeria military doesn't have the cleanest record out there, just like the police. Many don't understand what human rights are; neither can they spell or repeat the phrase. They would brutalize peaceful protesters openly and in secret and deny all about it.
So, when you stage peaceful protests in Africa to resolve challenges, ensure to leave the streets and negotiate with the powers that be as soon as possible once they give the sign.
They say power corrupts. You can't trust any Nigerian leader to act responsibly in dealing with protesters blocking roads and businesses for weeks without an unspeakable outcome.
Protest. Be ready to call it off when your voice is heard and acted upon. Go to the table for discussions when invited. Put together a team to follow up on the promises of the government within the stipulated time frame. Don't stay on the streets for too long; remember, life means nothing in many African countries.
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