The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed yesterday denied the media allegations of diverting $1.2 billion through an unnamed account.
He insisted that the report was false and baseless, though he did not disclose the particular medium that published the story, describing it as a distraction by naysayers.
He stated this in a speech delivered to mark the 2017conference and general meeting of the National Institute of Public Relations in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
In a statement from the Special Assistant to the Minister, Mr. Segun Adeyemi, the Minister also accused the social media of making his job and that of public relations practitioners more difficult.
“How else can you explain that people will believe and circulate a fake report that the Minister of Information and Culture, that is yours truly, has 1.2 billion dollars in his imaginary bank account? Let’s examine this a for a moment. 1.2 billion dollars is about 400 billion Naira.
“The entire yearly budget of the Ministry of Information and Culture, where I preside, is under 15 billion Naira, and these include salaries, overhead and capital projects. Assuming, without conceding, that the Minister somehow manages to transfer the entire budget into his personal account, it will take 25 years for him to amass 400 billion Naira.
“Yet, this disinformation was lapped up by the public. Similar imaginary huge sums of money have been credited to other Ministers,” he said.
According to the minister, the job of a public relations practitioner and the Government Perception Managers were made tougher and almost impossible by the social media.
“There is no better occasion that this to examine the increasingly tough, and almost impossible, job of a public relations practitioner. Tougher still is the task of the Government Perception Manager, whether he or she is the Minister of Information, Commissioner for Information, Spokespersons for the President or Governor or for any government agency.
“The challenges faced daily by the perception managers have been exacerbated by the Social Media. Today, the challenges have defied everything the practitioner may have been taught about perception management, public relations and all. Therefore, the government spokesperson, in order to succeed, must be a Cicero, a Socrates, an Albert Einstein and a Machiavelli all rolled into one.”
He then urged government perception managers not to be proactive rather than defensive.