By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has appealed to the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) to use its network to promote unity in the country, in the wake of discordant voices threatening the peace and security of the country.
This was contained in a statement signed and issued by Special Assistant To The President (Media) Office of the Minister of Information and Culture, Segun Adeyemi.
The Minister made the call yesterday in his address at the Annual General Meeting of NIPR in Bauchi .
“I have decided to take up the (NIPR) President on this offer, by appealing to the NIPR, which I consider a key stakeholder on national issues, to use its powerful platform to work for the unity of this country. That task has never been more urgent than now, against the background of discordant voices in the country and growing calls for separation.
“I see the NIPR as a capable partner in the government’s efforts to douse the tension in the land and beat the drum of unity, rather than the drum of war,” he said.
Mohammed said while it is alright for citizens to call for restructuring and true federalism, what is not acceptable is the call, in certain quarters, for secession, stressing that whatever challenges we face today, as a nation, can and will be surmounted.
“In fact, the Federal Government has set in motion the necessary machinery to frontally tackle the challenge of insecurity. We should therefore not allow today’s challenges, whether in the area of the economy or security, to jeopardize our unity,” he said.
The Minister said without a country that is peaceful and secure, there can be no development, adding: ‘’That’s why this administration is doing everything possible to return peace and security across the country.’’
He also sought the partnership of NIPR in the fight against fake news and misinformation, which he described as a clear and present danger to the peace, security and development of any nation.
“Another area in which I want to task the NIPR is the Federal Government’s fight against fake news and misinformation. The NIPR can and should leverage its powerful platform to ensure that the menace of fake news and misinformation is confronted squarely. This is because this twin evil is a clear and present danger to the peace, security and development of any nation,” Mohammed said.
He urged NIPR to assist the government by ensuring that members of the Institute do not become accessories to the spread of fake news and misinformation.
“I say this because some of your members have been found waiting in this regard, as they have placed pecuniary interests and motives above professional ethics and patriotism.
‘’If you recall the sad incident of the P&ID saga, it was a member of this Institute, a firm of Public Relations Consultants, that was hired to give the impression to the world that Nigeria indeed entered into an agreement with P&ID and actually reneged, and as such Nigeria should pay over US$9 billion.
‘’It took this Ministry and others to go to the UK to debunk the misinformation and change the narrative. I have no doubt that NIPR can prevent a recurrence of this kind of behaviour on the part of its members,’’ the Minister said.