Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government, has said that extremists are currently tugging at the very core of the nation’s unity.
Areas which the extremists are tugging at the nations unity, the government disclosed, are in the spheres of politics, ethnicity or religion.
The government further said the tell-tale signs of extremism were all too glaring around everyone, whether it is the secessionist agitations, growing ethnic nationalism, religious extremism or even banditry and insurgency.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, spoke on behalf of the government at the 2019 Annual Lecture of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) titled : “Extremism: A Threat to National Unity.”
“This topic could not have come at a better time, and I thank the FRCN for zeroing in on the issue of our national unity. 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.
Mohammed further said to present the scenerio more succinctly, the situation was so dire when the current administration came in for a second term that the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture decided that its first town hall meeting will be devoted to the issue of national unity.
Mohammed added that some of the tools of choice for extremists to propagate their dangerous ideas include unbridled propaganda, fake news and hate speech.
These, he stated, were very potent tools in the hands of extremists, whether they are secessionists, ultra-nationalists, religious extremists or even insurgents.
“And that explains why since 2017, we have been campaigning against fake news and hate speech. Last July, we launched the National 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 added.
The minister also noted the recent approval by President Muhammadu Buhari of recommendations to rid the nation’s airwaves of fake news and hate speech, especially coming on the heels of the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations before and during the last general elections.
While saying that since announcing the plan to sanitize both the broadcast industry and the social media, there have been varying reactions from Nigerians, Mohammed added 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.
“As I have said at many fora, 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, however, we are committed to ensuring a responsible and ethical use of our air waves and the social media,” Mohammed also said.