Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the threat posed by the fake news phenomenon is greater than that posed by insurgency and militancy, hence the need for the military to strategise on how to counter it with the same vigour with which it confronted Boko Haram.
The minister stated this in Abuja on Tuesday at the 7th National Security Seminar of the Alumni Association of the National Defence College.
“I see a greater threat to Nigeria and the threat is greater than insurgency and militancy, and that is fake news. I think anybody who is a student of history or military history will agree with me that no war has ever been started by bullets or bows and arrows. Every war has been started by words.
“This phenomenon of fake news is a serious issue and I think the Armed Forces should also pay a great attention to it,” he said.
Mohammed, often accused of propaganda by critics, urged the military to devise a robust communication strategy and deploy more and capable personnel to social media to wage a cyber warfare against fake news.
“This is why I believe that whatever we do today in fighting terrorism and insurgency, we must pay adequate attention to communication strategy. We must have our people who will be very active also on the social media,” he said.
The minister said he had cause to debunk certain fake news on social media recently when some people attempted to set Christians against Muslims by claiming that Nigeria is the most dangerous place for Christians to live in.
He warned that such unfounded allegation is capable of tearing the fabric of the society and causing conflict in the country.
Mohammed pointed to two things that happened last week to support his crusade against fake news.
“Both Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande went to visit the President in London and a few hours later some naysayers said Asiwaju has denied that he ever visited the President. It took Asiwaju’s quick rebuttal of the naysayers to set the record straight.
“When U.S. President Donald Trump made a call to President Muhammadu Buhari, the naysayers again went on the Social Media to say it never happened. It took the intervention of the White House to confirm that President Trump indeed had a phone conversation with his Nigerian counterpart,” he said.
In his address, the Commandant, National Defence College, Rear Admiral S. Alade, said having technically defeated the Boko Haram insurgency, there is the need for the armed forces to brainstorm with a view to consolidating on the successes so far recorded against terrorism.