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Federal Ministry Of Information As A Theater Of Disinformation


On October 8, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 budget to the National Assembly. Of the N13 trillion budget, education was a paltry 6.3% of the total.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, seems to have taken up the role of educating and informing Nigerians on the situation of things since the #EndSARS protests ended. Oddly enough, Lai Mohammed’s version of informing Nigerians has been more positioned to indoctrinating and misinforming the citizenry as well as blocking Free Speech.

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A few months back, Mohammed was quoted to have said that hate speech generated via media channels will attract a hefty fine.

The thin line between what constitutes hate speech and true/undiluted reportage by media houses already casts doubt on the effectiveness of such a rule/fine. Moreso, the fact that this aspect of regulation is being motivated by a member of the Federal Government’s kitchen cabinet casts doubt on the intentions behind such a draconian rule.

The most recent in the theatre of the absurd was the Minister’s conflict with CNN over the figures and the details of the Lekki Massacre. CNN released a mini-documentary on the Lekki Massacre using witness interviews, ballistics reports from bullet samples on the scene, and several time-stamped video evidence. Yet, the information minister called it an utter misrepresentation of the facts of the event.

A better course of action for the government would have been to wait for the outcome of the several judicial panels of inquiry across the nation than taking a subjective position too early. Jumping into the fray to defend the actions of the army and the police further cast a shadow on the credibility and fairness of the Federal Government in an issue of human rights concern.

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Prior to now, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) was said to have censored the type of content TV stations could broadcast. The regulation was believed to have initially hampered coverage of the #EndSARS protests as media houses were apprehensive that they would be banned by the NBC if they flouted the rule. However, it was eventually found out that the NBC embargo on the broadcast of ‘sensitive content’ had only been the handiwork of Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the rule was without the express approval of the NBC board.

Some observers of developments around the #EndSARS protests period believed that the burning of TVC, a popular TV station in Nigeria, was because of its skewed coverage of the protest. Others opined that the arsonists who carried out the destruction were angered as a result of carried-over sentiment that the Bola Tinubu owned company is colluding with the NBC to stifle coverage of the protests.

When the NBC later came up with a hefty N3 million fine slammed on Arise TV, AIT and Channels TV, the decision was immediately welcomed with scorn by the entire public. Not only are the media houses challenging the fine in court, but other Rights group are also joining the media stations in the suit against the NBC despite having partly paid the fine.

In an environment where government sources and the information ministry are quick to emblazoned “Fake News” on every photo and video since the protests began, such a government parastatal cannot be said to be after properly informing the citizenry. Such government outfit supported by a Minister telling mostly half-truths is only out to further dis-inform and miseducate Nigerians.

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Macaddy Gad

Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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