Gbajabiamila Warns Nigerians About The Dangers Of Fake News
The Speaker claims that folks all over the world have turned into broadcasters and publishers capable of influencing many people’s ideas from the privacy of their own homes.
By Omotayo Olutekunbi
Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has warned Nigerians against propagating fake news, citing its negative consequences on nation-building.
On Thursday, Gbajabiamila provided the advice at the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics, and Values’ two-day National Conference on Information in Abuja.
The speaker also urged country leaders and citizens to resist fake news in order to maintain the country’s unity.
He said that technological advances have enabled acquiring and disseminating knowledge cheaper and faster than it has ever been in human history.
Citizens all around the world, he claims, have evolved into broadcasters and publishers capable of swaying the opinions of many from the privacy of their enclaves.
“Nigeria is with diverse cultures and religions, still working towards achieving a more perfect union, hate speech and other forms of misinformation and disinformation can quickly have a devastating real-world effect.
“Therefore, countering misinformation by whatever proper and legal means available is not a theoretical question but a responsibility that goes to the heart of our ability to continue to exist as one nation in peace, unity and prosperity.
“Let us all be aware that in trying to prevent the worst consequences of misinformation and hate speech, there is a danger of going too far in ways that smother the marketplace of ideas and deprive citizens of their free speech rights.
“That would be most unfortunate, and as leaders and government policymakers, we must avoid that outcome by all means,” he said.
He added, “To do that, we must also focus on building legal systems and protocols that support free expression and robust public debate.
”Whilst holding to account those who in service of their narrow interests will seek to subvert our societies and harm our country using choreographed and mischievously curated misinformation.”
The speaker said that information management was central to defeating insecurity and safeguarding the country.
“Our laws, systems and practices, and the policies that guide our strategies for information management were written for a world that no longer exists.
“Unfortunately, from the government to the private sector around the globe, there has been failure to recognise this and reluctance to act to fix the problems it portends.
“This is a grave error for us in Nigeria, a country with a dark and documented history of expensive and deadly conflicts considering the faultiness that exist in our society,” he said.
Gbajabiamila, on the other hand, praised the committee for organizing the meeting and calling the attention of key stakeholders to the need of efficient information management.
Earlier, Chairman of the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics, and Values, Rep. Olusegun Odebunmi (APC-Oyo), stated that the importance of information management to national development cannot be overstated.
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