- Information minister, Lai Mohammed, has reacted to the emergence for former VP Atiku Abubakar as PDP’s presidential candidate
- He said voting for Atiku in 2019 will return Nigeria to corruption era
- The minister, however, expressed confidence that President Buhari will win in 2019
The minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, says a vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2019 election is a return to “a sordid corruption lading past.”
The minister stated this on Monday, October 8, in Abuja when he paid advocacy visit to the headquarters of Daar Communication Plc, owner of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower radio stations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the minister was at the media house to drum support for the National Campaign Against Fake News launched by the federal government on July 11.
Fielding questions from members of board and management of Daar Communication and some journalists at the event, the minister expressed the confidence that Nigerians would make the right choice in President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
“The stark choice for Nigerians in the 2019 election is either to go back to the past – a sordid corruption lading past – or a brighter future, which beckons as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I am, however, very confident that Nigerians will make the right choice,” he said.
On the fake news phenomenon, the minister said it was assuming a dangerous dimension, especially as the nation approached the 2019 general elections.
He disclosed how fake news was used to almost scuttle the recent Osun governorship election won by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Mohammed also said the recent fake news on the release of Sharibu Leah from Boko Haram captivity had serious security implications.
“There is no better time to intensify the campaign against fake news, especially as we approach the 2019 general elections.
“The enemies of democracy will explore the phenomenon of fake news even more than before.
“As you witnessed in the last Osun governorship election, especially the rerun, about 16 PDP members were arrested by the police for impersonating international observers to perpetrate violence.
“But, within minutes, the whole story was turned as if it was APC stalwarts that were arrested. This is the power of fake news.”
The minister continued: “A few days ago also, news circulated in the social media that Sharibu Leah has been released.
“You can imagine how much trauma this would have caused the parents of Leah, the embarrassment it has caused the country, as well as its security implications.
“This is why we believe that fake news, if not checked or stopped, it has the potential to destroy than a civil war,” he said.
The minister also reiterated that the farmers/herdsmen clashes were being given ethnic and religious colouration by the fake news purveyors to cause crises in the country.
He stressed that the clashes were as a result of demography, climate change which necessitated struggle for scarce resources and in some cases, sheer criminality.
Mohammed, however, noted that the campaign against fake news being championed by his ministry had yielded results.
“This campaign has succeeded in creating national awareness against fake news and brought the issue to the front burner.
“Since we launched the campaign there have been national discourse and lectures against fake news.
“Only recently, Facebook has indicated interest to, along with other policymakers, come and have discussions with us on how to combat the menace of fake news,” he said.
Mohammed also said that fake news is a global issue, various countries had devised various means including legislation and punitive measures to combat the menace.
He reiterated that the federal government would not censor, coerce or make legislation against fake news.
“We intend to leverage on the sense of responsibility of all our media organisations, who also recognise the fact that if they do not self-regulate it will lead to self-destruction,” he said.
The minister appealed to Daar communication to support the government in the campaign.
Tony Akiotu, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Daar Communication, gave the assurances of his organisation to support the government in the campaign.
He corroborated the minister that fake news phenomenon had attained a dangerous dimension and all hands must be on deck to tame it.
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Earlier, Legit.ng previously reported that Atiku won the PDP primary election to emerge as its presidential candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
In the election conducted on Saturday, October 6 at the party’s convention which took place in Port Harcourt, the former vice president defeated 11 other political bigwigs in the party.
He is expected to provide stiff competition to President Muhammadu Buhari who emerged as the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate.
Election 2019: President Buhari Proves He is Fit to Run in 2019 | Legit.ng TV