President Muhammadu Buhari Friday expressed concern over the misuse of technology, saying it is now being used as a tool for instigating violence and criminal activities.
The president said this at an audience with the chairman and members of the Governing Board of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) at the State House in Abuja.
“Generally, technology has been enabler for good however in recent times, we are seeing this platform more and more being used to instigate violence and hate. Nowhere is this disturbing trend more apparent than in the various media platform, where fake news is gaining momentum and is being used to divide and destabilise communities and indeed nations around the world.
“We see images being manipulated to give legitimacy to lies. We hear voice on radio preaching falsehood and hatred. We also read stories that are already sponsored by individuals who stand to gain at the expense of truth, peace and harmony,” he said.
The president said truth remains the only powerful weapon that can be used to counter manipulations of technological facilities.
“Like I mentioned a few months ago, at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, since digital information age is borderless, this means we must be ready to respond with the best weapon we have; truth,” he said.
The president appealed to Journalists to safeguard their profession by tackling the growing trend of fake news.
“Journalism as a profession is primarily based on being truthful. With the growing increase in fake news, the future of your profession is under threat and therefore you must be ready to correct this and safeguard your professionalism and reputation,” he said.
The president also charged the FRCN to develop programmes that would tackle the menace of fake news.
“In the case of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, you must proactively develope programmes based on truth, facts and broader national interest.
“You should also have strategies to react to fake information and sensitize our citizens not to believe stories at face value especially when the source is unknown or not credible, where supporting facts are not available,” he said.
Commenting on the requests presented by the FRCN Board, the president advised the Corporation to make a formal presentation through their supervising ministry.
In his remarks, chairman of the Governing Board of FRCN, Mr Aliyu Hayatu, called for more funding for the broadcast outfit in order to compete favourably with its foreign counterparts.
“It should be noted here, Mr President, that powerful foreign countries such as Germany, China, Britain France and the US, spend the equivalent of billions of Naira of their tax payers’ money to broadcast in local Nigerian languages.
“Only recently the British government set aside about £270 million, the equivalent of N135 billion, to enable the BBC expand and boost its foreign languages broadcast. As part of this expansion, the BBC is now broadcasting in lgbo, Yoruba and Pidgin English, in addition to the well established Hausa language broadcast which has now been on, for well over fifty years.
“The sponsors of these foreign broadcast outfits are not competing with each other in broadcasting to Nigerians for immediate gains in terms of Naira and Kobo. The competition is for the soul and mind of Nigerians. The regrettably disturbing result is that because of the very weak transmission capability of particularly, the FRCN, Nigerians are left with no option but to listen more and more to these foreign radio broadcasts,” he said.
He pledged FRCN’s unwavering support for the success of the current administration’s next level agenda,” he said.