The Federal Government has lamented fake news and hate speech in the country, saying they are the biggest threats to the 2019 general elections.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said during the official opening of the 47th National Council on Information in Kaduna on Thursday the Federal Government was disturbed by the development.
He said, “With the 2019 general elections just a little over 60 days away, there is no issue that is more relevant to the elections than the issue of fake news and hate speech. This issue transcends political party lines, religion, ethnicity, and even nationality. Left unchecked, fake news and hate speech constitute the biggest threat to the forthcoming elections.”
Mohammed, according to a statement from his office, said fake news has the capacity to alter the course of elections and create legitimacy problems for the winner, citing as an example a report that said fake news helped to depress Hillary Clinton’s votes during the 2016 US election.
He also said hate speech played a negative role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which left at least 800,000 people dead.
The minister said, “The campaign against fake news and hate speech is not just the responsibility of the Federal Government. It is for all tiers of government. Therefore, I expect that the commissioners who are here, and those who are not, will launch the campaign in their various states.
“The media will bear the brunt if the people lose confidence in them because of fake news. This is why the media must lead this campaign.”
Commissioners of Information from about 20 states are among the participants at the three-day meeting, which was declared open by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye.