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Kwara governor, others urge action against fake news

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[files] AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq. Photo; TWITTER/INSIDEKWARA


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Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, yesterday, joined media executives to call for urgent actions to halt the spread of fake news, saying the earlier the menace is tackled the better for peace and security of the country. The governor spoke in Ilorin, the state capital, at a lecture organised to celebrate the 60th birthday of Oloriewe Raheem Adedoyin, a media giant and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“Yesterday (during a courtesy visit to my office), I mentioned to the leaders of the media community who are also seated here, a need to frontally tackle fake news and quackery from within the media industry. It is in the interest of our country and our own sanity to do so,” AbdulRazaq said, referring to his pre-lecture meeting with some media chiefs that included the International Press Institute (IPI) chairman in Nigeria, Mallam Kabir Yusuf; Guild of Editors’ President, Mallam Isah Mustapha; veteran journalist and author, Richard Akinnola and Adedoyin.

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The governor suggested that the media professionals might be the best suited to regulate the industry themselves, especially with the advent of the social media and proliferation of news platforms with scanty regard for professional ethics and consideration for national security.

“Leaders in the media industry, politicians and government are concerned about the issue of fake news. Today, anybody can wake up and set up a news agency online unregulated and guided. You should not leave it to politicians to regulate because you understand the industry better,” AbdulRazaq had told a delegation of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) led by its president, Mallam Kabir Yusuf.

He said the trend of fake news was very alarming and constituted a threat on peace and cohesion in the country, agitating for legislations driven by professionals themselves to check the menace.

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“Anytime I see news online, I will first go to major newspapers and if it is not there, I will move away. Now, we should go beyond that because there is a lot of slanderous, unprofessional reports trending online. You need to clean up the industry. So there is a challenge for you especially in making regulations that will check the trend of fake news,” he said.

Dapo Olorunyomi, publisher of an online newspaper who delivered the Raheem Adedoyin lecture, spoke to the same issues.
He said the media, which plays essential roles in strengthening democratic rule and accelerating national development, must not be left unguarded from saboteurs and the challenge of disinformation.

Olorunyomi spoke on “Free Press, Focus of Democracy and Future of Nigeria.” Fake news is a menace prompted by technological advancement and can only be defeated intellectually, Olorunyomi said.

To him, “Fake news problem is a technology problem and any policy to be formulated to solve it must be knowledge-based.”

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He argued that no society where democracy is the choice of government could ever succeed without responsible media, tasking all decision-making organs to rise against the menace of fake news before it goes out of hand.

The publisher said the media industry had been facing an information crisis since the takeoff of digital transition in 1996, whereby everyone fabricates stories, not minding its implications on the peace and unity of the society.
Yusuf stressed a need for media practitioners to substantially design a framework to address the problem of bad eggs in the industry.

He called on Nigerian leaders to assist the media to develop self-regulatory framework, maintaining that self-regulation is the best way to address the problem of fake news.
, he said.

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