Real News is Sacrificed on the Altar of Sensationalism, Disinformation – Lai Mohammed
Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed today, Thursday said the spike in the dissemination of fake news and the use of disinformation in recent times is because Fake news, disinformation and hate speech have become the weapons of choice to create tension in the polity and destabilize the country.
According to the Minister speaking at a press conference in Abuja noted “those behind it, the naysayers, are not about to relent”.
“For some people, the 2019 elections are not over. They are stuck in the pre-election mode. And they must continue to use these weapons to put Nigeria on edge”.
Confessing the obvious that there are security challenges in the country, the Minister said, “We are tackling them head on. There is no question about that. But the challenges are being aggravated by fake news and disinformation, in particular, adding that those behind this campaign of fake news and disinformation have also deployed new tactics, top of which is the recycling of old news items and videos.
“A good example is the video of the over 400 young men suspected to be Boko Haram members who were intercepted in Abia state in 2014. About two weeks ago, the video came back into circulation, creating panic in the polity. Their intention is simple: to create tension and panic in the country”.
On the controversial $500 million loan his ministry is seeking, the Minister confirmed that the sum is not only to “upgrade” the state television, NTA.
He said the loan is being sought for three major projects including the NTA upgrade.
The minister was reported to have said the loan was for the upgrade of the nation’s “broadcasting infrastructure” and also for the NTA to up its game to the likes of the American news network, CNN.
At the press conference Thursday, he said in an era of social media, “the real news is usually sacrificed on the altar of sensationalism and disinformation”.
“That’s how I will describe the hysteria, in a section of the media, over the reportage of the $500 million loan being sought from China.
“It is wrong to report that the loan is being sought for the NTA alone. Indeed, the loan is for three major projects.”
The minister said part of the loan will be used to construct a headquarters complex and transmission network for Integrated Television Services (ITS).
The ITS is the federal government-owned signal distributor and is a major component of the country’s Digital Switch Over (DSO).
The second project that will be serviced with the loan is the construction of an ultra-modern Media City in Ikorodu, he said.
He said the media city will have the following facilities: Indoor/Outdoor shooting area, animation production facility, digital media training centre, world-class cinema, a four-star hotel, an amusement park, and an amphitheatre.
“Acquisition of digital movie production equipment for rental as well as power system. Media City Training Academy, only the second of its type in Africa (the first is in Egypt) that will train Nigerian broadcasters and film makers in the production of high-quality media content programmes and make Nigeria a hub for digital movie production in Sub-Saharan Africa,” he added.
He said only a portion of the loan “will go into the digitalistion of all the NTA stations nationwide (headquarters, 12 zonal stations, 36 states capital NTA stations and the 76 community stations).”
“Upgrade, purchase, and installation of relevant digital TV broadcasting equipment compatible with DSO products and accessories that are necessary for the production and broadcast of digital programme contents, in addition to the provision of a power system and manpower training,” Mr Mohammed said.