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
“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,”
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 |