The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Monday, alleged that the opposition are deploying fake news as weapon against President Muhammadu Buahri’s Administration ahead of the 2019 elections.
The minister, who made the allegation at a media briefing in Abuja, said the opposition were short of ideas and resulted in fake news because they could not fault the administration on performance.
Mohammed said: “The biggest weapon in the arsenals of the opposition today is fake news.
“We have it on good authority that the opposition has hired technology companies to turn out fake news some that will look plausible but at the end of the day it will be fake.’’
Specifically, the minister gave an instance where he was recently quoted on the social media as saying that the President could no longer speak and understand his mother tongue, Fulfude because of the surgery he underwent in London.
He said: “This is again another version of the fake news from the same people that manufacture the story of the cloning of the President. It is fake.
“What borders me is that it is not going to stop. In the days ahead, because of the run up to the 2019 elections, you will hear more incredulous fake news.
“This is simply because the opposition has run out of ideas, they know that they cannot debate on issues and they have resulted to fabricating fake news.’’
The minister said that the government had raised alarm over the fake news phenomenon as far back as 2017.
He said the government became so concerned about the dimension the menace was going when it launched a National Campaign against fake news in July.
Mohammed charged the media to promote issue based campaign and shun “silly and unsubstantiated’’ claims that are fake.
The minister also responded to a recent allegation by the opposition that the Traders’ Money programme being executed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was vote buying.
Mohammed said the programme had commenced ever before the electioneering campaign and it was one of the social intervention and poverty alleviation policies of the administration.
He said: “We did not start the programme today and it has no political undertone.
“The opposition who made the allegation is jittery because of its acceptance and its transparency.’’
He said the administration would continue to implement its poverty alleviation programme for the benefit of the masses not minding the baseless criticism by the opposition.