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Journalism under threat, Buhari laments

President Muhammadu Buhari says the spread of fake news poses a threat to journalism.

Speaking when he hosted the board of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) at Aso Rock on Friday, he expressed concern that technology is being used as a tool for instigating violence.

He charged journalists to save their profession by tackling the growing trend of fake news.

“Journalism as a profession is primarily based on being truthful. With the growing increase in fake news, the future of your profession is under threat and therefore you must be ready to correct this and safeguard your professionalism and reputation,” he said.

“Generally, technology has been enabler for good however in recent times, we are seeing this platform more and more being used to instigate violence and hate.

“Nowhere is this disturbing trend more apparent than in the various media platforms, where fake news is gaining momentum and is being used to divide and destabilise communities and indeed nations around the world. We see images being manipulated to give legitimacy to lies. We hear voice on radio preaching falsehood and hatred. We also read stories that are already sponsored by individuals who stand to gain at the expense of truth, peace and harmony.

“Like I mentioned a few months ago, at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, since digital information age is borderless, this means we must be ready to respond with the best weapon we have: truth.”

Buhari charged FRCN to develop programmes that will tackle fake news.

“In the case of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, you must proactively develop programmes based on truth, facts and broader national interest,” he said.

“You should also have strategies to react to fake information and sensitize our citizens not to believe stories at face value especially when the source is unknown or not credible, where supporting facts are not available.”

Earlier in his remarks, Aliyu Hayatu, the board chairman of FRCN, advocated more funding for the broadcast outfit, in order to compete favourably with its foreign counterparts.

“It should be noted here, Mr President, that powerful foreign countries such as Germany, China, Britain France and the US, spend the equivalent of billions of naira of their tax payers’ money to broadcast in local Nigerian languages.

“Only recently the British government set aside about £270 million, the equivalent of N135 billion, to enable the BBC expand and boost its foreign languages broadcast. As part of this expansion, the BBC is now broadcasting in lgbo, Yoruba and Pidgin English, in addition to the well establish Hausa language broadcast which has now been on, for well over fifty years.

“The sponsors of these foreign broadcast outfits are not competing with each other in broadcasting to Nigerians for immediate gains in terms of naira and kobo. The competition is for the soul and mind of Nigerians. The regrettably disturbing result is that because of the very weak transmission capability of particularly, the FRCN, Nigerians are left with no option but to listen more and more to these foreign radio broadcasts.”

He pledged FRCN’s unwavering support for the success of the current administration’s next level agenda.

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