*Says fake news, hate speech detrimental to nation’s peace, security
The Federal Government on Tuesday admonished the Nigeria in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) against sponsoring and offering its platform for secessionist groups.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the admonition during a visit of delegation of NIDO, UK Chapter, to his office in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the visit to the minister was part of the activities marking NIDO UK chapter’s ongoing initiative tagged, “A Week in & For Nigeria’’.
Mohammed said it was disheartening that secessionist groups campaigning around the world for their causes were using some Nigerians in Diaspora to propagate their fake narratives about the country.
He said it was also worrisome that the secessionist groups were relying on the financial contributions of some NIDO members to fund their nefarious activities.
The minister said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration considered NIDO as critical stakeholders in Nigerian project.
He said the consideration informed the unprecedented establishment the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), which, he said, had been doing a good job in coordinating and providing an organised system of collaborations of Nigerians in Diaspora.
“Thanks to the commission, issues affecting Nigerians in Diaspora have been receiving prompt attention.
“NIDCOM has also ensured that Nigerian in Diaspora are well informed about the activities of the government.
“It is therefore alarming and disappointing that some Nigerians in Diaspora still rely on platforms that peddle fake news and misinformation about Nigeria,’’ he said.
Mohammed noted that the avoidable division among Nigerians in Diaspora in some countries had hampered the engagements of the President with them each time he (President) travelled out.
He said prior to the division, the President and even his ministry had made the engagement with Nigerians in host country a regular affair.
“This is an unfortunate development, but we will not relent in seeking out and engaging with patriotic Nigerians in Diaspora,’’ he said.
Mohammed commended members of NIDO, UK chapter, for their patriotism and steadfastness in organising “A Week in & For Nigeria’’ aimed at shining a positive light on the country.
“This is what patriots do, not badmouthing their country around the world.
“I, therefore, want to use this opportunity to appeal to NIDO to seize the initiative from those who are bent on painting Nigeria bad in the comity of nations,’’ he said.
The minister noted that the government acknowledged the challenges facing the country, especially in the area of insecurity and was earnestly tackling them.
He reiterated his position that no government in the history of the country had done so much with so little.
“The administration came in at a time that the country has lost one third of its revenue, due to a drastic crash in oil prices.
“Despite that, the administration has recorded tremendous achievements in the area of infrastructure – roads, rail, power, housing, dams, etc.“In agriculture, the country is closer than ever to achieving self-sufficiency in major staples.
“The administration is prosecuting the fight against corruption in an institutionalised manner as well as the revamping of the economy, especially through diversification,’’ he said.
Mohammed, therefore, urged the Nigerians in Diaspora to complement government efforts rather than propagating fake narratives and untrue allegations of religious persecution, political marginalisation and human rights abuses.
“As an organised and well connected group, I implore NIDO to leverage its contacts in government circles, parliamentary groups and global think tanks in world capitals to help change the narrative.
“I also urge them to sweep the carpet off the feet of secessionist groups, insurgents and anarchists who are bent on pushing false narratives to portray Nigeria in bad light.
“I have no doubt that you will take this call seriously and do everything in your power to change the narrative for the better,’’ he said.
The minister disclosed that the government was re-engineering and ramping up diplomatic efforts to counter and reverse the narrative, in addition to countering pervasive anti-government propaganda.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Mr Chibuzor Ubochi, said “A Week In & For Nigeria’’ initiative was designed to celebrate the country and encourage their members to do things for the country.
Ubochi said the two focal points of the week long celebrations were passage of enabling laws to allow their members to vote and be voted for, as well as advocacy for 24-hour electricity in Nigeria.
He thanked the President for approving the gazetting in the annual Calendar of the nation, July 25, National Diaspora Day.
Also, the Federal Government on Tuesday asserted that hate speeches and fake news which dominate the social media space is detrimental to peace, security and national cohesion.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, stated this at the Opening of a two-day 2021 Annual Roundtable on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO), organised by the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) in Ilorin.
The theme of this year’s edition is entitled: “Culture, Media and National Cohesion in Nigeria’’.
He said the federal government’s position on the regulation of the social media is in furtherance of national interest and in line with global best practices.
The who minister maintained that no responsible government will allow enemies of Nigeria use media as a tool to destabilise the nation, appealed to the media to shun sensational reporting and eschew fake news.
Mohammed represented by Mr Segun Adeyemi, his Special Assistant, stressed that sensitive reportage would help prevent or de-escalate conflicts as the case may be.
“The neglect of culture and the breakdown of cherished cultural values have contributed largely to the myriad challenges bedeviling our nation today.
“Concerted efforts are therefore required for cultural reconstruction and reawakening to achieve the much-desired socio-political and economic progress,’’ he said.
According to him, the media is an indispensable institution in modern and democratic societies, as the fourth estate of the realm and watchdog of society with constitutional backing. “Media has a pivotal role to play in the progress and well being of society,’’ he added.
Mohammed reassured that President Muhammadu Buhari would continue to ensure enabling environment for a robust media practice in Nigeria.
“Contrary to insinuation in some quarters, this government has no plans to muzzle the media,’’ the minister assured.
He appreciated the media as a strategic partner “in our determination to foster the socio-economic and political development of our nation’’.
Mr Ado Yahuza, the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), said 2021 theme was selected to emphasise the significance of culture and the media to socio-political and economic development of the nation.
He observed that the present challenges Nigeria is facing as a nation could be surmounted through a cultural rebirth programme with the media playing a leading role.
Yahuza therefore urged citizens to embrace our cherished cultural values of honesty, hard work, good neighbourliness, respect for elders and for constituted authority.
He said Nigeria has suffered from negative tendencies such as “get-rich-quick syndrome”, ethnic and religious biases, adding that this had eroded national cohesion and development.
“It is our belief that if the media emphasise and celebrate our cherished cultural values and the things that unite us instead of the things that divide us, national unity and cohesion can be easily achieved,’’ he said.
Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara appealed to parents to inculcate in their children the nation’s diverse traditional cultures and values such as languages and dresses.
AbdulRazaq, represented by Hajia Mopelola Abdulrahman, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Information, assured of the state government support for the institute in carrying out its mandate of national cohesion and integration.