Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed has said his official trip to the United States of America (U.S.A) was fruitful and successful, despite what he called deliberate and sponsored fake news by his detractors.
The minister said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) before he departed Washington, DC, for Lagos.
NAN reports that Mohammed was in the U.S to engage with international media organisations and think-tanks on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and the efforts it has made so far in tackling insurgency, banditry and all forms of criminality.
“We had a very hectic three-day engagement in Washington, DC, and I am very satisfied with the outcome of the engagements.
“We have been able to achieve our objective, which is to come and tell our own stories, to give an account of our stewardship to the global media and think-tanks. I am very glad that we met both,” he said. The minister said contrary to a fake online report, he did not sneak out of the country as his mission to the U.S was never to meet with Twitter officials, and he never did.
He said: “On Wednesday, August 18, we had an interview session with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Radio and Television, Bloomberg and Politico, a U.S-based journalism company that covers politics and policy in America and internationally.
“We opened our programme on Thursday with an interview with Reuters, followed by Washington Post and another (live) interview with Bloomberg Quicktake.
“On Friday, we had an interview session with the Voice of America (VOA) Radio and TV, and met with Dr. Peter Pham, a Fellow of the Atlantic Council, a think-tank, and former President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy to the great Lake Region of Africa.
“We had a very useful discussion with Pham and we were able to put across to him our narratives on security, COVID-19, Twitter ban, economy and how well we are doing in the area of infrastructure.
“We were also able to debunk the negative and fake stories about persecution of Christians, and he made very useful suggestions which we are going to follow up,” he said.
On the same day, the minister said he had a closed-door meeting with the U.S Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Culture, Mr. Mathew Lussenhap, and a Senior Advisor at the United States Institute for Peace, Ambassador Johnnie Carson.
The closed-door meeting, Mohammed said, focused on a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and the U.S on how to stop illicit trafficking in cultural property and artefacts.
“We agreed on the final draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will be ready after vetting by our Ministry of Justice. Anytime soon, there will be a signing in Nigeria.
“The agreement is to prevent artefacts and cultural property that people want to illicitly ship to the U.S.
“In addition to artefacts, the agreement also extends to illicit drug trafficking and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is involved,” he said.