The federal government has launched a campaign against fake news in the country.
Speaking at the launch, Lai Mohammed, minister of information, said the essence of the campaign is to sensitise Nigerians on the dangers that fake news poses to the country’s peace and security.
The minister said there is need to check fake news ahead of the 2019 elections.
“For those who may not know, we have been calling national attention to the issue of fake news, misinformation and hate speech since 2017. We even organised a special National Council on Information on the issue of fake news, misinformation and hate speech in Jos in July 2017,” Mohammed said.
“And at a conference for media handlers of state governors, in Abuja in 2017, we warned that fake news and misinformation could pose a threat to the 2019 general elections.
“Unfortunately, instead of abating, the fake news issue, which became a global phenomenon in the wake of the 2016 US election, has grown worse, hence our decision to launch this National Campaign Against Fake News.
“The essence of this campaign is to sensitise all Nigerians to the dangers posed to the peace and security, and indeed the corporate existence of Nigeria by the phenomenon, and the fact that each and every Nigerian has a role to play in curtailing the spread of fake news.
“The timing is also not unconnected to the role of fake news in aggravating the various crises in the country as well as the need to check this phenomenon ahead of the 2019 elections.”
The minister said the government would use all the available tools as its disposal to enlighten Nigerians on fake news.
“We will use all the information dissemination tools at our disposal, work with both the traditional and social media, as well as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to get the word out there about the dangers that fake news poses to our peace and security, our democracy and our corporate existence,” he said.
“We are also appealing to the media to lead the campaign. They should remember what authors Bill Kovach and Tom Rosentiel said in their book – The elements of journalism – that journalism’s first obligation is to tell the truth.”