Promoters Of Hate Speech, Fake News, Bent On Making Nigeria Ungovernable – Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the growing cases of hate speech, disinformation and fake news in the country are being orchestrated by those opposed to the Nigerian government to “discredit the government, destabilize the polity and make the country ungovernable”.
The Minister made the statement at the Extra-ordinary Meeting of the National Council on Information (NCI), which has the theme ”Hate Speeches, Disinformation, Fake News and National Unity”, in Jos, Plateau State, on Thursday.
”The campaign (to discredit the government) is a multi-million naira project and the people behind this string of hate speech, disinformation and fake news are not about to stop. In fact, they will become more vicious in the days, weeks and months ahead,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed blamed the resurgent push for separatism as well as the rising cases of ethnic and religious disharmony on the “growing phenomenon of hate speech, as well as the disinformation and fake news campaign,” and warned that hate speeches and incitement to violence set the stage for the genocide that left at least 800,000 people dead in Rwanda in 1994.
He traced the worsening cases of hate speech in the country to the period leading to the last general elections, when the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, was the target of a vicious campaign.
”Never in the history of electioneering campaign in Nigeria has such a quantum of hate speech been directed at any candidate. This did not stop even when he won the election and became President.
“For instance, the President had hardly left Nigeria for his vacation in London on 19 January 2017, during which he said he would have routine medical check-up, when these hate and fake news campaigners circulated the news that he has died.
“Between then and now, they have repeated similar fakes news times without number,” he said.
He cited three instances of disinformation and fake news targeted at him, including when he was quoted as saying the government does not know who will sign the 2017 budget, when what he said was that when the budget is transmitted to the presidency, a decision will be taken.
Citing other instances, Mr. Mohammed said: ”On Wednesday, 26 April 2017, after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, I briefed State House Correspondents on what transpired at the meeting.
“I said, among others, that President Muhammadu Buhari did not preside over the day’s meeting because he decided to work from home that day. In reporting my briefing, one of the correspondents quoted me as saying the President would work from home henceforth, rather than on that day only.
“Also in May 2017, I travelled to China on official assignment. I had just arrived in that country, after a long flight, when I started receiving calls from Nigeria, seeking my reaction to a story making the rounds in the Social Media, quoting me as saying that though President Muhammadu Buhari is in a London hospital, he is using Made-in-Nigeria drugs. I purportedly made the comment in an interview with Channels Television, after the Federal Government’s launch of the Made-in-Nigeria campaign in Abuja a few days earlier.
”At first, I chose to ignore the story, saying Nigerians would easily see the folly of it,” he said.
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