The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the lack of control over social media platforms poses a threat to national security.
Briefing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, the Minister revealed plans by the Ministry to launch a “massive national campaign” in support of the military, especially in their fight against insurgency and insecurity.
“We are planning to launch a national campaign to rally support for the military,” Lai announced. “We believe the men and women who are risking all to keep us safe deserve the support and prayers of all Nigerians, not vilification, insults and other acts that are capable of dampening their morale.”
He said the campaign, which would be similar to the previous ones launched by the Ministry on burning issues such as fake news and hate speech, insurgency and the fight against corruption, would mobilise Nigerians irrespective of their political leanings to show support for the military.
“I think it is high time that everybody, irrespective of political affiliation, joined in supporting the war (against insurgency). It’s not unusual, as a matter of fact it’s usually the practice, that when a country is faced with this kind of challenge, people will sink their differences and work together.”
He said the national campaign, which will be multi-faceted, would include the production and airing of special jingles on radio and television, social media interventions and advocacy.
The Minister alleged that opposition politicians have continued “wage a campaign of disinformation against the military on the social media”, saying such “unpatriotic acts” are capable discouraging and demoralizing the men and women in uniform.
“I think the biggest opposition probably today that the military has is probably not Boko Haram, it’s probably the social media because it’s so uncontrolled. Today, video clips are doctored and clips of happenings in other lands are now reported and sent out as if they are happening in Nigeria. Unfortunately, there is no one to hold responsible. This is very discouraging and it demoralizes the military
“That brings me to the bigger issue of overall support for our military. Recent developments are disturbing. The activities of a section of the media and some opposition political parties are demoralizing the military and strengthening the insurgents.
“Without seeking or waiting for official clarification, outrageous casualty figures are prominently reported. Without consideration for national security, military plans are recklessly revealed. Not even in the United States, the bastion of democracy, does this happen,” he said.
Lai said although the government would neither censor nor gag the media, journalists must strike a balance between the constitutionally-guaranteed freedom to receive and impart information and national security.