Criticize, Don’t Denigrate President, Minister tells Media

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LAI Mohammed, minister of information and culture, has said

the media is free to criticize the president but not to denigrate him

or his office.

 

The minister said this in Abuja, on Thursday when he visited the

Peoples Daily Newspapers, in continuation of the advocacy for the

national campaign against fake news, which was launched in July.

 

He 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 the person and office of the

president.

 

“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,”

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, agricultural development, etc. They have therefore

resorted to using fake news to de-market our administration.

Thankfully, they are failing,” the minister said.

 

He said even though the national campaign against fake news has not

discouraged its purveyors, it has brought the phenomenon to the front

burner and equally heightened public discourse on the dangers of fake

news which, he said, has the capacity to instigate religious and

ethnic crisis in the country.

 

Mohammed, who described fake news as a global menace, 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.

 

He said the government will not toe the path of coercion or censorship

in the campaign against fake news, and that it believes in the

capacity of the media to self-regulate, so as not to self destruct.

 

In his remarks, Hameed Bello, chief operating officer of the Peoples Daily

Newspapers,  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

Honourable 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.

 

 

– Sept. 6, 2018 @ 18:15 GMT |

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