By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigeria has an unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news, carried out by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant
President Buhari has also applauded the Nigerian media for the good work they have done, and are still doing, as the nation confronts the unseen enemy called COVID-19.
The President in his message on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated every May 3, noted with dismay the activities of purveyors of fake news through the social media, saying that it was capable of setting the country on fire.
He said, “We cannot overemphasize the role of the media in keeping people informed and educated on the pernicious virus, which has no friend or foe. It simply seeks to mow down anyone and everyone in its path, and public awareness is very important, lest we become like sitting ducks. The media are doing this quite effectively,” the President says.
He commended the role the Nigerian media have played thus far, and charged that they continue, “till we get to safe harbour when the world and our country are finally free of this greatest health challenge in recent history.”
Reflecting on the theme of World Press Freedom Day 2020, ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation,’ President Buhari “opines that Nigeria has a very unhealthy dose of disinformation, fake news, hate news, purveyed by people who use media platforms, particularly the digital variant.”
According to him, “They don’t mean well for us, and no country can afford to close its eyes to the evil disinformation can cause. In a plural polity like ours, it has the potential to rupture relationships, sow seeds of discord, and set on the path of destabilisation.
“When fake and hate news are added unabashedly, it can only signpost doom. I urge the Press to use the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to see how this can be vigorously tackled.”
On the part of the government, the President pledged a recommitment to the ideals of freedom of the press, noting that democracy thrives better in an atmosphere of transparency, as opposed to opacity.
He said, “We appreciate the cooperation we have enjoyed from the media in tackling the Coronavirus, and look forward to same, post COVID-19, when all hands must be on deck to repair the damages done to our economic and social lives.“