Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, says playing the role of an image maker for president President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is painstaking and onerous task.
Speaking on Thursday when he delivering a keynote address in Lagos at a meeting of the All Progressives Congress (APC) information managers at federal and state levels, Mohammed said the freedom that comes with social media also added to the difficulties of speaking for the government.
The meeting was organised by the Progressive Governors Forum, and hosted by Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos.
“Perhaps, the most daunting task anyone can take on in this age and time is that of information and communication management,” Mohammed said.
“It is even more daunting when you are engaged in information and communication management for a reformist government like ours.
“As you all know, ‘change’ is the mantra of our party, the APC, and change, as we all know, does not come easy.”
The minister said the advent of new information and digital technology has made the job of information and communication management more challenging.
According to him, social media, as a double-edged sword, provides opportunities and challenges in equal measure.
He said while the government had capitalsed on social media platforms to trumpet and make public its activities, it recently suspended the operations of Twitter because of the threat posed by the gross abuse of the platform to the nation’s peace and unity.
“Twitter is the platform of choice for separatist campaigners, especially those of them residing outside the country,” he said.
“They use it to issue directives to their followers in Nigeria to attack our security forces, as well as to burn police stations and INEC offices.
“It was a tough decision to take, considering that many of our youths also use the platform for business. Such is the challenge pose by social media.”
He also identified poor funding, due to decline resources available to the government, as part of the challenges facing the information and communication sector.
Mohammed said in spite of the challenges, his ministry had deployed several innovations — traditional and modern methods — to project the achievements of the administration in the three priority areas of fighting corruption, tackling insecurity and revamping the economy.
The innovations, according to him, included town hall meetings, testimony series, documentaries, bi-weekly news briefing, releases, and media tour of projects.
The minister, however, lamented that in spite of the various programmes, people were still complaining in certain circles, that not enough is being done to publicise the administration’s achievements.
He, therefore, called for sustainability and the need for synergy among managers of information and communication in all strata of government.
“Information managers rarely compare notes, thus duplicating efforts while the myriad of information being generated from the various programmes I have listed above do not percolate enough to the grassroots,” he said.
As a way forward, the minister said the information and communication managers of the party, and governments at all levels should create enough synergy to enable them to work together.