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Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday said the controversial $500 million loan his ministry is seeking is not only to “upgrade” the state television, NTA.

He said the loan is being sought for three major projects including the NTA upgrade.

The minister made this known during a press conference in Abuja.

Mr Mohammed has been criticised by Nigerians after he appeared before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign to defend his request for the loan.

The minister was reported to have said the loan was for the upgrade of the nation’s “broadcasting infrastructure” and also for the NTA to up its game to the likes of the American news network, CNN.

At the press conference Thursday, he said in an era of social media, “the real news is usually sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism and disinformation”.

“That’s how I will describe the hysteria, in a section of the media, over the reportage of the $500 million loan being sought from China.

“It is wrong to report that the loan is being sought for the NTA alone. Indeed, the loan is for three major projects.”

The Projects

The minister said part of the loan will be used to construct a headquarters complex and transmission network for Integrated Television Services (ITS).

The ITS is the federal government-owned signal distributor and is a major component of the country’s Digital Switch Over (DSO).

The second project that will be serviced with the loan is the construction of an ultra-modern Media City in Ikorodu, he said.

He said the media city will have the following facilities: Indoor/Outdoor shooting area, animation production facility, digital media training centre, world class cinema, a four-star hotel, an amusement park and an amphitheatre.

“Acquisition of digital movie production equipment for rental as well as power system. Media City Training Academy, only the second of its type in Africa (the first is in Egypt) that will train Nigerian broadcasters and film makers in the production of high-quality media content programmes and make Nigeria a hub for digital movie production in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he added.

He said only a portion of the loan “will go into the digitalistion of all the NTA stations nationwide (headquarters, 12 zonal stations, 36 states capital NTA stations and the 76 community stations).”

“Upgrade, purchase, and installation of relevant digital TV broadcasting equipment compatible with DSO products and accessories that are necessary for the production and broadcast of digital programme contents, in addition to the provision of a power system and manpower training,” Mr Mohammed said.

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