Lai Mohammed, who is the Minister of Information and Culture, has reportedly urged the media in Nigeria to stop endorsing the denigration of the country, adding that they are watchdogs and not lapdogs.
The Minister reportedly made this known at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday in reaction to the article by London-based news magazine, The Economist, titled, ‘Insurgency, Secessionism and Banditry Threaten Nigeria.’
According to Mohammed, “Nigerian press is reputed to be one of the most vibrant in the world. This is not a fluke. The Nigerian press has indeed earned its epaulettes, and its vibrancy has been honed by years of fearlessly taking on whoever crosses its path, whether they are colonialists or military rulers. It is therefore not a surprise that the media was assigned a role by the 1999 Constitution. Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution tasks the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media to, at all time, be free to uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.”
He added, “The idea of the Nigerian media, especially the traditional media, regurgitating anything and everything published or reported by its foreign counterpart is totally antithetical to its reputation of independence and vibrancy. The Nigerian media does itself a great disservice by turning itself into an echo chamber of the foreign media.”
He noted, “When The Economist reported its patently-wrong and badly-researched story, it was immediately amplified by the local media, without even interrogating its content? This is totally unconscionable! For example, The Economist reported that the Jihadist threat in the northeast has ‘metastasized’, and everyone knows that this is totally inaccurate. Prior to the time it was dislodged, which was before Dec. 2015 when I led a team of local and international journalists to Bama in Borno State, Boko Haram established the headquarters of its so-called Caliphate in that town (Bama), where it hoisted its flag, collected taxes as well as installed and removed Emirs at will. Today, Boko Haram has no Caliphate anywhere in Nigeria. Yet, the Nigerian press regurgitated that report by The Economist.”
The Minister probed, “Would the British or American press regurgitate a report in the Nigerian press denigrating their militaries?”
He maintained, “Gentlemen, I do not believe that the Nigerian media hates this country, neither will I agree that the media does not appreciate our military. But I appeal to you to stop endorsing the denigration of our country, our military, our institutions by some unscrupulous foreign media. By regurgitating their inaccurate stories about Nigeria, you are endorsing their stand. The Nigerian media was mandated to be a watchdog, not a lapdog.”