President Bola Tinubu has condemned the high level of false narratives and disinformation in the country, saying the trend threatens the fabric of Nigerian society.
In his opening address at the 19th Nigerian Editors Conference 2023 held at Ibom Icon Hotel, Uyo Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday with the theme: “Stimulating Economic Growth, Technological Advancement: The Role of Media”, the President appreciated editors for their role in the fight for democracy in Nigeria
The President, represented by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said the federal government is working to change the systemic decline of morality in the country through the implementation of a sustained mass reorientation campaign aimed at fostering unity, patriotism and the promotion of positive values among Nigerians.
He, therefore, called on the Nigerian editorial staff to support the campaign for moral uprightness among Nigerians.
He said: “We are dealing with the spread of disinformation and false narratives that threaten the fabric of our society. It is our collective responsibility to combat this threat through fact-checking, responsible reporting and promoting media and digital literacy so that we can strengthen our defenses against the destructive effects of false narratives.
“In the context of an inevitable, long-standing, systemic decline in morality leading to the erosion of our national values, I am pleased to inform you that the Ministry of Information and National Orientation is working to change the narrative in our country by implementing a continuous mass reorientation campaign aimed at fostering unity, patriotism and promoting positive values among Nigerians
“We strive together to reorient ourselves as Nigerians towards a stronger sense of national identity and shared values. I will therefore appeal to all our Editors to support this campaign for national righteousness among Nigerians.
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Umo Eno, in his remarks, urged the Editors Guild of Nigeria to ensure good governance in their reporting to promote democracy in the country.
He said: “I want to ask you to use the media to create a new template for development-oriented reporting, where our leaders are held accountable without being overly intrusive.
“No one wants a compliant media that acts as cheerleaders for the government, but in trying to report the news we should be careful not to disrupt the fabric of society. First, you need the people to be able to practice their profession freely,” Eno said.
While congratulating the media on the support received by his administration from the Akwa Ibom Council of the Union of Journalists of Nigeria, the Governor said his administration was open to constructive criticism and committed to driving a governance narrative focused on enabling rural people to reap the benefits of democracy and build trust in the government.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of the Editors Guild of Nigeria, Eze Anaba, said the conference was part of the contribution of editors to the growth and development of not only the media industry but the country in general.
Anaba tasked colleagues to produce balanced, accurate, fact-based and fair reports and implored them to use fact-checking tools to disseminate editorials to the population, adding that this is the only effective and efficient way to fulfill their constitutional obligation under Art. 22 section accountability and respect for human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democratic principles.
He also urged political actors not to suppress the press, saying: “Always remember that a free press is like oxygen to democracy. “Nothing should be done to suppress the press or to restrict, under any circumstances, freedom of speech and media freedom.”
Chairman of the conference and publisher of Vanguard newspaper, Sam Amuka Pemu, who lamented the critical economic situation in the country, reminded the newsrooms to always remove objectionable content from disseminating information to the public.