By: Joy Odor/Kaduna
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed has told Nigeria journalists across the Federation to remember that they are experts in democracy and democratic issues, hence they are also been watched as they watch others.
He made this known in his speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the 6th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) held on the 4th of October, 2018 at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State, South-West, Nigeria with the theme “Media, Hate Speeches and 2019 General Elections in Nigeria” :A Democratic Participation or Democratized Press.
Alhaji Lai Muhammed who was represented by a Deputy Director at the Ministry, Mrs. Omolari Esan lamented strongly that hate speeches are evil and highly destructive and must be avoided.
The Minister warned Nigerian public especially the eager social media users that hate speech have usually been responsible for most vicious internecine and genocidal wars in history.
According to him, journalist should not lend their various medium to the service of hate speeches and fake news, saying it may bring instant gratification but once their platform is identified as a source of hate speeches and fake news, their credibility is lost.
“Once your credibility is lost as a channel, you are gone. Indeed, making the evil of hate speeches as part of the theme of your conference assures us and indicates that you are also seriously against it, So, Kudos.
“It is also symbolic that your present occasion is electoral at the very time the nation is closely approaching her general elections. This pleasant coincidence, which sees that the society’s watchdogs are in the mode and mood of an important election, being a very important realm of government, serves as a prelude to our country’s general elections.
“The message of this coincidence to us as a people at this time is that democracy is in everyone, everything and everywhere. This is because these are the main issues which you have been monitoring as watchdogs of the society, and that you have been writing on.
“In one word, you are all experts in democracy and democratic issues, therefore, you are the one to teach us. Hence, we are also watching you, as you watch other.
“As the last hope of the common man, you must work hand-in-hand with the government to ensure peaceful, free and fair general elections come 2019.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has always maintained that there is no other way to look at credible elections than as the pillar of democracy which is the beginning and the foundation of social justice.
“Now, we have a president who believes that the wishes of the citizens always supersede any interest of individual leaders. In-line with this, he has given invariable instructions to all relevantly concerned constitutional bodies to give all required institutional supports to INEC for it to most efficiently and effectively preserve the will of the Nigerian people in all elections.
“Gentlemen of the Press, the vision of Mr. President is not dissimilar to your own mission here today, you must teach the rest of us how to believe your stories, trust your news and respect your criticism.
“You must show that preservation of people’s will is an important to you as your profession. You must preserve and respect the will of your members. That is the essence of democracy and the best way to move people forward and to advance the general course of humanity” Lai stressed.
“I must take time to thank you for your numerous supports and understanding, which you have variously shown towards the government. I also wish to commend your new registration exercise. It is a very good step in very right direction” Lai noted.