Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, has solicited for the support of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in educating and enlightening citizens on the ills of vandalising public infrastracture.
“By damaging the infrastructure because we are angry with an elected or appointed officer the assets are things that we all need.
“There should be a lot of education about all these and I don’t see anybody better to do that public education than NAN, so I challenge you to help us in this regard to enlighten the public.
“I look forward to a partnership in this area with your agency.
“We don’t have a lot of these assets anyway, it is in our best interest to own and protect what we have,’’ Fashola urged.
The minister regretted that at this time and in this century the country should be discussing about vandalism.
“It is a matter of deep regret that in 2021 we are still having this conversation in our country, but that’s why I said education and enlightenment is the first way forward.
“That people can see profit or joy from damaging what actually belongs to all of us and in their own mind they are doing business.
“It is something that requires all of us to stand up against that kind of behaviour and conduct. It will take a combination of knowledge, patriotism and lawfulness,’’ Fashola said.
On how vandalism could be curtailed, the minister said there was power of prosecution on ground in the country which the government was looking at to utilise in order to disabuse people’s mind to destruction of public assets.
He also said the government would use the power to seek to recover the cost of damage from any person who was caught destroying public infrastructure using the legal system.
The minister however said despite these measures the best way to protect public infrastructure was through voluntary compliance, through timely and adequate public education and enlightenment.
He therefore called on NAN and other media organisations in the country to help in enlightening the public on the ills of destroying the limited infrastructure on ground without replacing them.
Responding, Mr Buki Ponle, the Managing Director of NAN, assured the minister of the agency’s willingness to partner with him in whatever capacity he proposed.
“NAN being the nation’s flag bearer in news and with a wide reach and presence across the 36 states of the Federation in the Federal capital and the world, educating Nigerians is part of the agency’s mandate.
“We will be happy to have this partnership to educate and inform Nigerians on the need to protect and preserve our common wealth, I will discuss with my colleagues and and we will come with plans,” Ponle said.
Ponle noted that willful destruction of critical infrastructure was anti-progress and NAN would do all it could in education and enlightenment to see to it that vandalism of public infrastracture becomes a thing of the past.
The NAN chief executive appreciated the minister on the renovation of the NAN headquarter office, saying that NAN now wears a new and distinctive look. (NAN)