Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Worried by the collective damage the propagation of fake news is causing to the nation’s polity, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, on Wednesday, implored journalists to focus on reports targeted at holding those in authority to account.
Okowa said until reports are focused on holding leadership to account, fake news will continue to thrive without both those churning it out and those consuming knowing that it is fake news.
The governor barred his mind in Asaba while declaring open the 5th annual conference of the Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN).
The two-day conference had as its theme: Media Narratives – Hate Speech, Fake News and Political Stability in Africa.
Represented by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Charles Aniagwu, the governor said fake news is thriving in Nigeria because “we have abandoned the unity, development and peaceful co-existence of our people as a country. We have embraced the agenda of promoting individuals and promoting political interests.
“And what that has done to us is that instead of focusing on how to make Nigeria grow to a bigger and better country, we are focused on how individuals will grow. As long as we continue to look at individuals and relegate Nigeria to the background, fake news will continue to be the order of the day because those news will only just move the interests of those persons which may not be in consonance with the interests of the entire Nigeria nation.
“Until all of us get back and begin to realise that Nigeria is our country, and that what we need to do is to make it work as a country, we will continue to chase shadows. I want to plead with journalists to realise that we don’t have any other country, the only country we have today is Nigeria.”
He added that it is the responsibility of journalism practitioners to ensure that Nigeria continue to exists as a country that focuses on how to develop her people.
“For us develop our people, the journalism profession has a very critical role to play. Let us desist from promoting just individuals as against promoting our country.
“If we follow the aspect of holding those in authority to account, not to account to individuals but to account for the reasons for which they are holding public offices, not because somebody has given you money, not because somebody is going to give you money, but when you report, report those things that are going to move the county forward.
“Until we focus on that, we will continue to carry fake news without knowing that the news is fake,” he submitted.