Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government has said extremists are tugging at the core of the nation’s unity. The government listed areas where the extremists are tugging at the nation’s unity to include the spheres of politics, ethnicity or religion.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this at the 2019 Annual Lecture of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) titled : “Extremism: A threat to national unity.”
The minister who said topic could not have come at a better time, said: “Whether in the area of politics, ethnicity or religion, extremists are tugging at the very core of our national unity. The tell-tale signs of extremism are all too glaring around us, whether it is the secessionist agitations, growing ethnic nationalism, religious extremism or even banditry and insurgency.”
Mohammed said the situation was so dire when the administration came in for a second term that the Ministry of Information and Culture decided its first town hall meeting will be devoted to the issue of national unity.
He listed the tools used by extremists to propagate their ideas to include propaganda, fake news and hate speech.
“That explains why since 2017, we have been campaigning against fake news and hate speech. We launched the campaign on fake news and hate Speech, and we have recently upped the ante by moving ahead to inject sanity into our broadcast industry. The power of radio and television, including their wide reach, means that we should not allow extremists to turn these powerful media platforms into catalyst for conflict,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed said since announcing the plan to sanitize both broadcast and social media, there have been mixed reactions from Nigerians, but that responsible and ethical journalists, and all patriots have nothing to fear.
“Only anarchists and non-patriots, the purveyors of fake news and hate speech, need to worry. This administration has no intention to gag the media or stifle free speech, but it also won’t sit by and allow hate speech to become free speech.
“No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to endanger our national unity.
“So, while we welcome the support of most Nigerians who have reached out to us on the need to clean up the air waves and the social media, we also note the criticism of those who oppose our efforts.
“Make no mistake, we are committed to ensuring a responsible and ethical use of our air waves and the social media,” Mohammed said.