*Charges NUJ to control fake news
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration will, in the next four years, pursue inclusive and transparent policies that will guarantee security and economic safety of every citizen.
The President gave this assurance while receiving a delegation of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by Mr. Chris Isiguzo at the State House yesterday.
According to a statement made available to newsmen yesterday by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, the President said “As I look to the next four years, I will remain committed to a safe and secure nation; creating an inclusive and diversified economy; and a governance system that is free of corrupt practices. In all these areas, we will remain transparent in implementing our policies.’’
He urged members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists to support the government in devising a means to control the spread of false information, warning that those who “create alternative reality’’ on social media are steadily eroding the credibility of journalism.
“Your profession today is undergoing a fundamental shift. For better or worse, the digital space is now becoming the major outlet for ‘news’. This space is difficult to regulate and police. In many instances, the participants in this medium are not trained or professional journalists.
“The stories they present are neither factual nor true. However, through the digital platform, they are able to reach millions and create an alternate reality in their minds. I am sure you will all agree that the biggest threat to the sustainability and credibility of your profession is the uncontrolled and unregulated news platforms operating in the cyber space,’’ he said.
The President noted that some misleading information in the social media were created and posted by people who lived outside the country.
“Many of the perpetrators of these acts do not even live within our shores. However, they have been able to damage the reputation of hard working Nigerian journalists while at the same time promoting conflict and divisions within our society,’’ he added.
Buhari commended Nigerian journalists for the effective coverage of the 2019 elections, pointing that many, out of patriotism, went beyond their call of duty and took risks to ensure full and balanced reporting of the election, assuring the NUJ that security agencies will do their best to protect journalists, especially in hostile environments.
In his remarks, the President of the NUJ, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, congratulated the President on winning the 2019 Presidential Elections, attributing the victory to his integrity and commitment to the development of the nation.
Isiguzo said the union was concerned by the growing number of media casualties in Nigeria, and across the continent, in carrying out their duties, urging Federal and State governments to take effective measures in protecting journalists.
‘‘Sir, we also wish to encourage your administration to evolve better ways of impacting positively on the lives of Nigerians who feel marginalized from the mainstream of Nigeria’s social, economic and political activities,’’ the NUJ president said.