5th November, 2022
By Jethro Ibileke
A former Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Tony Iredia, has blamed Nigerian politicians of over heating the word, ‘fake news’.
He stated this on Saturday, whild delivering the 4th Conviction Lecture of the Edo State University, Uzairue, Edo State, chaired by the Vice Chancellor of University of Benin (UNIBEN), Prof. Lilian Salami.
Iredia who spoke on the topic: “Fake News: Rethinking The Role Of The Mainstream And Social Media In National Development”, noted that the mainstream media rely on social media for information, but has obligation to process the information its gathered before publishing or transmitting the aspect of it that qualifies as news.
He noted that the role of the media is very important, as it fought against the military in 1966-79, 1983-99 and also fought against the leaders of presidential democracy for failure to develop the nation.
According to him, “Social media has an unequaled potential for mass mobilization for societal development as it can bring together large crowd of people for community service and it is also important to make the point that social media and mainstream media are not mutually exclusive and with technological advancement, mainstream journalists now employ social media platform to speedily gather information and adjust to the new methods of news processing, packaging and reporting,” he said.
The ex media guru acknowled the fact that the mainstream media has its own weaknesses, namely: unfit professionals, insufficient and irregular remuneration which negatively affects employee efficiency; ownership control which often deprived of initiative and discretion and inadequate human and material resources leading to long hours of duty because of a small workforce; poor manpower development which is shown in many employees never getting opportunity to upgrade their knowledge.
He further noted that the popularity of fake news is not a Nigeria thing as anything that doesn’t favour Nigerian politicians is always regarded as fake news, adding that the negative impact this challenges have on performance can hardly be over stressed.
According to him, those who criticized the media believe that every journalists is corrupt which is not correct because it is an irrational generalization that cannot be proved.
“Fake news does not just refer to false news in Nigeria, it is also used to include fake statements, misinformation and disinformation as fake news has since acquired several dimensions.
“In Nigeria politics and elections in particular, it is fashionable to describe any piece of information including verified facts as fake news by those it does not favour.
“Which one is fake news, the budget that was announced is always different from the one implemented. During the COVID-19, that affected Nigeria and other countries, Gov Yahaya Bello of Kogi State made news when he exempted his state from COVID-19 protocol approved by the federal government and declared it a glorified malaria sickness, yet, every day the NCDC was declaring daily figures of infected people and death,” Iredia said.
In conclusion, he opted that “except excessive regulations and political high handedness which repress the press in Nigeria are revisited and reform, there would be no viable organ of mass communication to perform its constitutional mandate of holding government accountable to the people thereby obscuring the probability of Nigeria returning to the good old days when she was described and accepted as the leading African nation.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Emmanuel Aluyor, described the 4th convocation lecture as remarkable, because it features the first graduating set of the faculty of Law which has attracted different individual prizes for its best graduands.