Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has accused the opposition of using fake news as a campaign tool against the President Muhammdu Buhari administration ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He said apprehensions that when the President wins re-election next year, he would consolidate on the corruption fight, has thrown the opposition into confusion, hence the frenzy with which they fabricate and publish fake news in order to cast aspersions on the government.
Speaking when he visited the Authority Newspapers in Abuja, the minister said the opposition believed that the best way to de-market the administration was by using fake news to create religious and ethnic disharmony and throw the country into turmoil.
He noted that because the Buhari administration has performed well, the opposition has thrown caution to the winds in its futile attempts to divide Nigeria along ethnic and religious lines.
“They have resorted to using fake news to blame the killings in some parts of the country on herdsmen, ignoring the bands of deadly militia groups being sponsored by unscrupulous people to kill innocent people and put the nation on edge.
“With the Buhari administration delivering on its promises to fight corruption, build the nation’s economy and tackle insecurity, the opposition has realised that it will not make any impact if it takes on the administration on that turf.
“So, it has decided to take the easy route, which is to use fake news and hate speeches to de-market the administration, pitch Christians against Muslims and one ethnic group against another,” he stated.
Mohammed cited the instances of how the opposition was distorting the fact that the clashes between farmers and herders were being aggravated by climate change, which has heightened the contest for scarce natural resources like water and land, as well as demographic pressure.
He further argued that most politicians know that the only way to distract the government was to spread fake news, insisting that they are selfish and have amassed so much wealth that they could continue to sponsor fake news for as long as they want.
“For the first time in Nigeria, there is a re-distribution of the nation’s wealth from a few to the generality of the public. The administration’s Social Investment Programme (SIP) is providing one meal a day for 8.5 million pupils in 23 states.
“The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) is empowering 400,000 families with N5, 000 monthly. The Government’s Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) is providing loans to artisans, craftsmen and market women, while the N-Power Programme has employed no fewer than 200,000 unemployed graduates,” he explained.