MINISTER of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed has attributed the resurgent push for separatism as well as rising cases of ethnic and religious disharmony to the growing phenomenon of hate speech, as well as the disinformation and fake news campaign.
Alhaji Mohammed who stated this on Friday at the opening ceremony of the National Council on Information in Jos Plateau State stated that Nigeria is a country of ethnic and religious diversify adding that this should be the source of its strength.
“Nigeria is a country of ethnic and religious diversity. That should be a source of strength, if the fault lines are not deliberately being exposed and exploited by those who are bent on setting the people against themselves, using their new-found tools of hate speech, disinformation and fake news.
He said the dangerous trend is threatening the very foundation of national unity and daily pushing the nation close to the precipice, perhaps more than at any other time since the end of the civil war.
“We all must say no to hate speech, either on our radio and television stations, newspapers, the Social Media, on our phones or in the public space. We must be resolute in tackling the canker-worm of hate speech, disinformation and fake news.”
He tasked the government information managers to embark on a relentless campaign against the evil tendencies at various levels, whether federal or state and called on citizens to boycott any medium that engages in hate speech, incitement to violence, disinformation and fake news.
According to him, the regulators must also be alive to their responsibilities by promptly sanctioning the purveyors of hate speech, disinformation and fake news adding the constitution allows freedom of speech but freedom of speech must not be allowed to become freedom of irresponsibility.
He added that the federal government through the Acting President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has recently undertaken a series of engagements with all stakeholders to defuse the tension cause by these tendencies, and his efforts have gone a long way in calming frayed nerves, especially in the aftermath of the attacks and counterattacks by various groups across the country.
Said he: “We must replicate this kind of engagement in our various states. Also as a follow-up to the efforts of the Acting President, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture is planning a series of engagements with the media, to educate and sensitize them to the dangers posed to the unity of the country by hate speech, disinformation and fake news”
Also speaking at the occasion Gov Simon Lalong who was represented by his Deputy Governor Sonnie Tyoden said “that information sector is a key driver of the change agenda in the state adding that the state ministry of Information and communication is being strengthened for the urgent tasks at hand.
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