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Governor’s aide warns against fake news

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By STEPHEN ADELEYE

KOGI- Dr Gabriel Ottah Special Adviser to Gov. Yahya Bello of Kogi on Information and Communications, has warned vendors of fake news to desist from the act and focus on communicating development messages.

Ottah gave the warning on Friday at the first Public Lecture Series of the Department of Mass Communications of Prince Abubakar Audu University (PAAU) Anyigba.

Ottah who was the Guest Lecturer, said fake news emanated mostly from citizen journalists who had no rudimentary understanding of professional reporting.

Citing relevant examples, the governor’s aide pointed out that social media  had been abused by people who for selfish reasons, published fake news.

He said while citizen journalists had no regard for social responsibility in passing information, professional journalists considered the positive and negative impacts of stories before publishing them.

The educationist gave examples of how citizen journalism could be used to promote development such as reporting crimes and accidents or augmenting the traditional media.

The don, however, lamented that the negative side of citizen journalism was more disturbing as it had caused Nigeria a trying time in our democracy.

”Of a particular example was the rumour that President Muhammadu Buhari was dead and that his look-alike, Jibril, from Sudan, was the one ruling Nigeria on contract.

”As the 2023 elections were near, if fake news were not discouraged, it could cast Nigeria into chaos,” he said.

The media scholar and public speaker, therefore recommended that citizens should exhibit self regulation in posting information on the social media.

He urged government to sanction vendors of fake news without shutting down the medium of communication, adding that scholars should carry out more research on the impact of citizen journalism.

Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Marietu Tenuche, thanked the Department of Mass Communications for taking the bold step of organizing public lecture series.

The VC used the occasion to highlight the success stories of the University, especially in the area of full accreditation of some courses.

Tenuche said the Guest Lecturer, Dr Gabriel Ottah, had exhibited hard work and commitment to duties, a thing that had made it possible for him to have the opportunity for the lecture.

On his part, the Head of the Department of Mass Communications, Dr Chris Attah, said the Public Lecture Series was a step in the right direction, adding that other academics would follow Dr Ottah in such presentations.

In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr David Apeh, described Dr Ottah as a great scholar “who has dymistified the topic for the lay man to understand”.

He urged the guest lecturer to keep up his contribution to the body of knowledge.

The Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Idah, Dr Usman Baba, commended the Guest Lecturer for his “highly educative lecture at this critical time in Nigeria’s democracy”.

Also, the Provost of the College of Health Sciences and Technology, Idah, Dr Nuhu Solomon Anyegwu, said the position of the guest lecturer should be taken seriously.

Anyegwu said fake news had the capability to destabilise Nigeria, and if not tamed, could lead to more dangerous situations.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of a TV set and a public address system to the Department by the Guest Lecturer.

NAN reports that the first Public Lecture series of the department was attended by public and political officials, particularly the Special Advisers. (NAN)

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