Fake news has assumed frightening proportion – Lai Mohammed

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says the spate of fake news has assumed frightening proportion and has affected the nation’s image globally.

The minister made this known during the inauguration of the Aso Television (TV) Station and Aso Radio ultra modern studio in Abuja on Tuesday.

He called on media practitioners to rise up to the challenge and place national interest above any primordial ones.

“We want to challenge our journalists to know that the spread of fake news today that is aimed generally at the public, is undermining our international image.

“You cannot paint your country as having incompetent leadership and expect the country to be respected internationally.

“We are not asking that the freedom of information should be breached or that we will censor the media.

“We are appealing to the media to self-regulate or it will self destroy itself

“The reputation of this industry is going down because of fake news and this is a real danger to our unity.

“Nigeria comes first before every other interest and we must work towards salvaging this country. Nigeria should come first,’’ he said.

Mohammed said:” there is no challenge that Nigeria is facing today that other countries are not facing.

The minister added that with measures that had been placed in front of President Muhammadu Buhari, all these challenges would be a thing of the past in the very near future.

Earlier, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello said one of the disposition of the present administration on assumption of office four years ago was to reposition the Abuja Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to be relevant to residents.

“However, the journey for television broadcasting began much earlier in 2004 when the licence was obtained with broadcast set in 2007.

“This however was not to be, due to a number of factors.

“It is therefore heart-warming to see that the set commenced full operations. It has taken a decade and half to get us to this stage and therefore we expect you to hit the ground running.

“I want to remind you of your responsibility to develop good quality content that will promote the unity of Nigeria which the FCT symbolises as well as promote the developmental agenda of the administration,’’ he said.

He warned the two stations to resist the temptations of joining sensational and imprudent journalism instead they should carve a niche for themselves as a responsible and level headed newsmen and content provider.

According to Bello, Nigeria and FCT more than ever, needs their institutions to bridge the gap on issues that tend to divide us and help to build a strong, virile and stable Nigeria.

“You must see this as your mission and use all your knowledge and experience to ensure that you succeed in this direction.

“You must also work hard to make this station economically viable so that it sustains itself.

“The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has expended a lot of resources to get it on its feet and you should therefore justify the confidence repose in you. After all, who much was given, much is expected,’’ he said.

He called on all FCT Agencies, Secretariats, Departments, corporate organisations and viewing public to patronise the station to help it grow.

Earlier, Chairman of the ABC Limited, Malam Farouk Muhammed, said about eight years ago the board ordered a number of equipment for Aso TV but were left in crates, because the supplier was not paid in full.

He said after the inaugural board meeting the Managing Director was mandated to convince the supplier to complete the installation.

Muhammed said after nine months of test transmission the station was still on test, noting that the sister radio station Aso Radio had been in existence for 18 years.

The chairman said all arrangements for local retraining of some ABCL staff and digital Aso TV transmission had been completed.

“Although we are ready to commence full transmission and increase gradually, we cannot do so until some tools for the job like Cameras, Teleprompters fly away kits, vehicles and others are supplied.

“Happily, several months ago you approved the supply of the said items, but the procurement process needs to be expedited and completed for the equipment to be supplied to enable Aso TV join the competitive terrain,’’ he said.

Muhammed thanked the minister for deploying some ABCL staff to the FCTA.

“We hope the process of financial independent would be expedited to enable Aso TV to start operating as full commercial entity of the government,’’ he said. (NAN)