As the 2019 general elections draw near, the government of Nigeria has launched a campaign against fake news.
by Jerry King Nwobodo @JerryDKingTP
The campaign was kicked off in Abuja by Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed in conjunction with Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).
The Minister whose APC government rode to power in 2015 by leveraging on ‘fake news,’ and negative social media campaign against them Presidnet Goodluck Jonathan described the so-called ‘fake news’ as a time bomb that can detonate with deadly consequences if left unchecked.
Mr. Lai Mohammed went further to state that fake news is a global epidemic worse than all the plagues that the world has recorded put together, a danger to global peace and security, and a threat to democracy with the potential of making the people loose confidence in the media
He said: ”Once the people lose confidence in the media, the media and the society are in trouble.”
On the basis for the campaign, the Minister said it was meant to ”sensitize 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”.
On the timing if the campaign, Lai Mohammed said it was aimed at the 2019 general elections and it’s connection to the aggravation of interest communal and ethnic crisis in Nigeria.
He said: “The timing of the launch 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.”
Although the Minister said the government will adopt advocacy and enlightenment campaign to tackle the menace of fake news instead of using coercion and semsorship, it is not clear if the government will not prosecute news outlets perceived to be anti-governnent under the guise of fighting fake news especially in the build up to the 2019 general elections.
‘Fake news’ became a gloal phenomenon following the emergence of Donald Trump as President of the United States. He propagated this phenomenon as a livid description for news outlets that ran stories perceived as anti-Trump and pro Democrats. Prominent among the news outlets decribed by Donald Trump as ‘fake news’ include the reputable Cable New Network (CNN) and other pro-democrats media in the United States.