The Nigerian Government has admonished the media to stop denigrating the person of President Muhammadu Buhari or his office through their platforms.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed gave the admonition when he paid advocacy visit to the Abuja office of the “Peoples Daily’’ newspaper on Thursday, to drum support for national campaign against fake news, launched in July.
Alhaji Mohammed said that in the rush to de-market the President and his
government, some mainstream media platforms have now resorted to the use of uncouth language to denigrate him and his office.
“In fact, fake news has taken another dimension. Now, it is not uncommon for otherwise respectable media organisations to accuse the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without backing up their accusation with an iota of evidence. The latest of such occurred two days ago, when a newspaper wrote an editorial in which it resorted to the use of uncouth language to denigrate the President on the farmers-herders clashes and other issues.
”In their eagerness to de-market the President, they forget that the President is the living symbol of the nation, and that by denigrating him, they are denigrating the country, including themselves,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said because of the impressive performance of the present administration, the critics know they could not take on the government on issues pertaining to performance, hence their resort to fake news.
“They are unrelenting, because fake news is the only weapon they have against a performing Administration like ours. They know they cannot take on us on the issue of infrastructure, economy, fight against corruption, agriculture development, etc. They have therefore resorted to using fake news to de-market our Administration. Thankfully, they are failing,” the Minister said.
Even though the National Campaign Against Fake News has not discouraged its purveyors, Alhaji Mohammed stated that it has brought the phenomenon to the front burner and equally heightened public discourse on the dangers of fake news which has the capacity to instigate religious and ethnic crisis.
Describing fake news as a global menace, he said even though different countries have been evolving ways to deal with the issue, Nigeria’s approach is to appeal to the sense of responsibility of media practitioners, bloggers and social media influencers.
According to him, government will not toe the path of coercion or censorship in the campaign against fake news and it believes in the capacity of the media to self-regulate to avoid self destruct.
The Chief Operating Officer of the Peoples Daily Newspapers, Mr. Hameed Bello, described as very strategic the decision of the Minister to rally the media in furtherance of the campaign against fake news.
“This visit is very strategic and I think we should advise the Minister to continue this kind of interface with the media because it has the capacity to correct some misconceptions that people have on the workings of government,” he said.