The President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has urged members of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers to pay attention to their health.
He said this on Wednesday as the online publishers hosted spokesmen of firms and prominent individuals to a luncheon.
The event was held on Wednesday at the Abuja Intercontinental Hotel, formerly Sheraton Hotel, Abuja ahead of the main event of the association’s Annual General Conference scheduled for Thursday at the same venue.
The theme of the 2023 AGC of GOCOP is: “Nigeria: Roadmap for socio-economic recovery and sustainability.”
Akpabio, who was represented by his spokesman, Hon. Eseme Eyiboh, at the luncheon hosted by GOCOP members for the spokesmen, said as the publishers go about their daily chores that are heart pumping, they should remember to take care of their health.
He said: “These few days as you confer with one another during this conference, I beg of you to limit your good selves to News Update, Breaking News, Just In, Developing Story, Happening Now, News Alert and such tags that I know often heightens the blood pressure of any individual.
“The pressure on me as an individual getting this bustle of alerts on my phone indeed heightens my pressure. The pressure could even be worse when the news update is conveying some depressing happenings in our country.
“Now, if there is pressure on me as an individual reading your news updates, breaking news, happening now and such, I can well imagine what happens to the person baking or cooking the news.
“This I know is especially the case with men in the online media space who are always on their computers, phones and other devices to deliver the news, first.
“It is in this regard that I call on you Gentlemen of the press to please monitor your health and do not allow the pressure for ranking and other parameters of performance heighten your blood pressure or compromise your health.”
Akpabio then urged the publishers, most of who have served at the pinnacle of their profession in the print and electronic media, to ensure they go about their jobs with accuracy.
He said: “I believe that the primary duty of the media is to provide information that enables society to make informed decisions. It is the duty of the media to guide everyone in this venture.
“As such I believe that any news break or alert from your platforms must be conveyed with the primary interest of securing this vital essence of decision making for all stakeholders.
“I therefore call on you, to ensure that everything that is published on your platforms help the citizenry in making the correct decisions.
“Again, it is in this light that I call on you to do your best to cut off the market for fake news merchants in all its ramifications.
“As a political actor, I have severally been the victim of fake news marketed by some sections of the media including some of you here, albeit maybe ignorantly, for example.
“Just a few days ago, an online publication pushed a story that my wife was being given an office in the Senate in a 20 paragraph story. Three of the paragraphs in that story mentioned the issue while the remaining 17 paragraphs were devoted to reciting fables and other mysteries about me that were totally untrue and unconnected.
“Such story ordinarily would have raised my pressure so much but my respected colleagues in the Senate and other reasonable Nigerians reacted so positively in its condemnation as an unwarranted act on the innocent wife of the President of the Senate.
“If I survived, many other Nigerians may not have survived the fake news published by many platforms against my person and offices I have variously held.
“When a news platform reports that a government project, say a road has been commissioned, members of the public who read the news may be led to believe that the road is good for travel. However, if it is not true and that the road actually may be laced with death traps, unwary motorists could be led to accidents and deaths.
“That is an example of how fake news kills.
“Indeed, fake news kills faster than the gun. I dare say that fake news can be a channel for mass destruction, hence I urge all of us to treat it (fake news) as a dangerous weapon for the destruction of the society.”
Akpabio, a former two-term Governor of Akwa Ibom State, urged the online publishers to partner with the National Assembly going forward.
He said: “We invite GOCOP to partner with the National Assembly towards enunciating a legislative framework that can frontally address this malaise.
“Beloved gentlemen of the press, I dare say that you must not be shy in this task. As you regularly try to fish out the malfeasances among those of us in the political class and other segments of society, I plead with you to also carry out the same self-cleansing exercise by not just identifying the fakes purveyors in your midst, but also by helping the National Assembly to fashion out a framework to curtail this practice.
“As you continue your deliberation, I again wish to remind you of my earlier injunction of taking out time to address your personal health and general wellbeing.
“I will conclude by urging GOCOP to, as a body, fashion out plans for common health checks individually and for your members, I believe that you can negotiate a better deal for your members if you go as a group to health institutions on this. I reiterate this because of the common saying, health is wealth.”