Media is free to criticise any president but not to denigrate Buhari - Lai Mohammed

Media is free to criticise any president but not to denigrate Buhari - Lai Mohammed

- The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, said media is free to criticise any president but not to denigrate President Muhammadu Buhari

- Mohammed noted that the rise in the phenomenon of fake news is because it is difficult by naysayers to fault the President Buhari’s administration on performance

- He maintained that the fake news is a global issue and each country has different approach to combat it

The federal government on Thursday, September 6, admonished the media to stop denigrating the person of President Muhammadu Buhari through their platforms.

The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, gave the admonition when he paid advocacy visit to the Abuja office of the “Peoples Daily’’ newspaper to drum support for national campaign against fake news.

Mohammed, who was reacting to a recent editorial published by a national newspaper, said while the press was free to criticise the president and the administration, such criticism must not be to smear the person of the president.

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He said: “There was an editorial in an otherwise respected national daily a few days ago that without any scintilla evidence, they denigrated the person of president. Make no mistake about this, the media is free to criticise any president but not to denigrate anybody. “If you have the facts, please come out.

“The president of a country, irrespective of the party or tribe which he comes from, he is the symbol of the country. When you denigrate him, you are denigrating yourself. We therefore want to appeal to the media organisations to desist from this.

“Some of them are consumed by hatred and bitterness that they throw cautions to the winds. This is not healthy either for the media or for the country.’’

“When you hide under editorial to pursue agenda which are driven largely by sentiment, emotion, vengeance and bitterness, it does not augur well for the country.’’

The minister reiterated that the clash had little or nothing to do with ethnicity and religion; rather a fall out of demography, climate change and in some cases, criminality. He urged the media to be vigorous and circumspect in looking at the issue before arriving at erroneous conclusion.

In defending the position, the minister explained: “If you remember in 1960 the country population is 45 million today we are 190 million hence the struggle for scarce resources.

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“Lake chad used to occupy 25,000sq km in 1963, today, the same lake has shrunk to 2500 sq km yet 35 million lives from Central African Republic, Cameroon, Niger Nigeria depend on the lake. The Lake is the natural source for their fishing, irrigation farming and water supply.

“This is the tension we are seeing. It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. The minister also gave the example of Zamfara state where he said the country had lost more lives to cattle rustling than those killed in Benue, Plateau, Taraba. He said both the rustlers and the owners of the cattle in the Zamfara were Fulanis and Muslims.

“How do we input religious and ethnic motives into this? It is the duty of the media to look at this and interrogate it very seriously.

“It is a pity that the purveyors of fake news have not relented. They are perfecting their strategy to de-market this administration and it is so sad that some main stream media have joined in this.’’

Meanwhile, had reported that minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the federal government will not make any law or directive that will stifle the press in its ongoing fight against hate speech and fake news.

The minister who gave the assurance on Monday, August 28, described as fake news, the alleged directive from National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) regulating phone-in programmes.

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