Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has confirmed the existence of a letter that was seen by THE BRIEF where he requested a loan of over N13m from a parastatal under his ministry, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, NBC.
Part of the letter, which was written on Mohammed’s behalf by the Director of Public Relations and Protocol, NPD Dama, reads:
“I am directed to inform you [NBC] that the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed is proceeding on official assignment to China on Sunday, 15th May 2016.
“The Honourable Minister has therefore approved that you loan the Ministry the total sum of (N13,120,470) thirteen million, one hundred and twenty thousand four hundred and seventy Naira only to enable him and his team embark on the China trip to carry out the assignment.”
Though the Information Minister refused to speak to THE BRIEF further on the issue, Sahara Reporters quotes him as saying, “It’s not unusual when the ministry wants to do something but you don’t have enough funds you ask one of your parastatals under you to provide the funds for the trip.”
“While we are waiting for the appropriate head to have the money you can go to any of your parastatals and ask, give us the money and when we are funded we will return the money to you,” he added.
Mohammed explained that the loan was necessitated as he could not access his Ministry’s budget because it has only just now been approved.
He however expressed worry and dismay that an internal and private memo could be leaked.
According to Sahara Reporters, when Mohammed was queried as to why he requested a loan from the NBC, and not from a tourism parastatal since the trip is for tourism investment, he responded by saying “the way the ministry is run is not the subject of public discussion.”
He reportedly later revealed that there was not enough money in the department of tourism to cover the expenses of his trip to China.
The Minister of Information and Culture however refund to offer a breakdown of the trip costs, saying “I do not owe you any obligation to tell you that.” When asked “don’t you owe the public explanation for how you spend their money?”, Mohammed said, “I do not.”
You can read the entire letter below:
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