FG Set to Deploy Orientation Officers in 774 LGAs

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The Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, who lamented that most of the information outposts in the country are unmanned, said the Federal Government is on the verge of deploying officers of the National Orientation Agency across 774 local government areas nationwide. He said that this move is necessary in order to restore consciousness of nationhood, which, he said, is gradually disappearing.

“The national orientation agency has offices in the 774 LGAs…not all the people that will man these local government offices are there, but we are rebuilding that. We are going to put officers of the NOA around all the 774 LGAs,” Idris told State House Correspondents shortly after he briefed President Bola Tinubu in Abuja.

He observed that “the belief in the concept of nationhood and patriotism has broken down in this country. We’re trying to rebuild that, to reconstruct that.

“Mr. President has given me a marching order to see that Nigerians believe in this country once again. We’re coming up with a national discourse on orientation or reorientation. So that Nigerians can believe in their country.

“People don’t even believe in leaders that they themselves have elected. Flags are not flying anymore. You go to government offices, you don’t even see the symbol of our collective existence, flying even in public buildings.

“We’re bringing back this concept of discipline that Nigerians should have. Patriotism. Belief in the nationhood that our founding fathers have given us. National orientation is going to be at the centre of it,” the minister explained.

He said despite the fake news flying around on social media, the FG will not deny Nigerians their freedom of expression. However, the FG is “looking at suggestions by the Nigerian Press Council to set up a registration scheme for journalists but is wary of concerns about “gagging the media,” Idris noted.

“That is a very delicate line to toe. While the government, Mr. President, and all of us in that sector are committed to ensuring press freedom. That freedom comes with responsibility…there is no attempt by the government to gag the press,” Idris told journalists.

Addressing the plans the Nigerian Press Council has to register journalists as a way of sanitising the profession, the Minister said, “Well, that is being looked at; you know that Mr. President believes in press freedom. He believes in the freedom of expression, and he’s not going to gag the press in any way, shape, or form.

“He’s going to work assiduously to ensure that the Nigerian press that has been free is even freer. But this freedom also comes with enormous responsibility. You can’t just say what is not right because you’re enjoying press freedom. There will be freedom, responsible freedom.”

Speaking on welfare for members of the Nigerian press, the minister said, “It is in the works. I have discussed that with Mr. President. He wants to see me come up with a roadmap for that.

“We are going to work on that, and you will get definite answers in due course. I want this to be underscored: there is no attempt by the government to gag the press. We’re going to do whatever it takes that is responsible and accountable. Responsible journalism is the way to go.”

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