Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has stated that the press must regulate itself “to avoid malfunctioning”.
The governor spoke at the Nigerian Media Merit Awards (NMMA) held in Lokoja, the state capital, on Friday.
At the occasion, Bello established that a free press is more powerful than the three arms of government combined.
He, however, pointed out that the profession has been infiltrated by “quacks and the hacks, specifically the myriad of unregulated persons armed with internet-enabled devices who haunt the media space, especially social media”.
He called on “real journalists” to take on “these malicious persons who wreck lives and reputations by the millions simply because someone paid them”.
“In fact, the world would be a scary and dark place without the mavins who collect, curate, and communicate information in a timely and responsible manner,” the governor said.
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“In so doing, they dispel falsehood, eliminate dangerous assumptions and provide societies with the basic premise upon which governance and other decisions can be made.
“Fake news is ubiquitous nowadays, whether it is rumour-mongering, dangerous innuendos, character assassination, or other forms of inaccurate reportage.
“The problem is so endemic that in Q3 2020 alone, statistics showed that there were 1.8 billion engagements with fake news on Facebook alone! Nigeria, like many countries, has fallen victim to it many times, sometimes with a devastating loss of lives or properties.
“The press is, therefore, one of the inescapable hallmarks of modern society and in particular, the custodians of public perception. What a divine responsibility!
“However, the press is useful only to the extent that it functions within the ambits of verity and veracity and in line with demands of propriety. It must regulate itself with the help of the law to avoid malfunctioning.
“Necessity is, therefore, laid on the real journalists to stand up and be counted when it comes to taking back their profession from the quacks and the hacks, specifically the myriad of unregulated persons armed with internet-enabled devices who haunt the media space, especially social media.
“These malicious persons wreck lives and reputations by the millions simply because someone paid them, or because they have real or imagined grouse against an individual or institution. Worse, they proceed without a care in the world because no one regulates them.”