Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has revealed how some governor’s averted bloody crisis that he said government would have been unable to handle over fake news.
The Abia State governor who spoke at the opening ceremony of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) national conference holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said early news that the Abia-born professor of education, Godswill Obioma, was strangled to death in the north as revenge for the assassination of Muhammad Gulak in Imo State was about to spike mass killings.
Harping on the threats posed by fake news and social media in the face of Nigeria’s troubles, the governor disclosed that it huge efforts by some governor’s to avert the whirlwind down by just one person.
He said the news that Obioma had just been killed in the north roused some hoodlums in Abia State who he said were set to go to the area where northerners resided to carry out mass killing.
Ikpeazu said: “If they had successfully carried out this action, Sabon Geri in Kano would have instantly witnessed the highest spilling of blood. Do you think anybody could have controlled the spread of massacre?
“Nigerians will never get to know what went in behind, what some of us did to save this country, to stop bloodbath over the assassination of Gulak and the coincidental death of Obioma”.
He said this was just one example of the daily threats posed by social media and fake news especially in these days of insecurity.
The guest speaker pointed to Rwanda, saying after what they went through, all their citizens have collectively vowed ‘never Shaun’s, saying they now see each AD citizens instead of tribes men opposed to each other.
He said this is what Nigeria had to resolve too without getting to where Rwanda got to. He urged the mainstream media to champion a national narrative that would suppress fake news and trivially laced stories.
The governor have an instance of how one newsman originated a story of how he (governor) took somebody he purportedly wished to succeed him to a shrine in India for oathtking, something he said he never contemplated.
He said even the state security services agents approached him on the matter but confirmed he never went to India in his life, let alone to any shrine.
Ikpeazu however said with pains that it was when his small daughter questioned him on same topic of taking oath in India that he hurried to take up the matter. “All I wanted was to prove the matter false so my daughter will be rest-assured his daddy did not take oath let alone in India shrines”.
He said Nigeria had crisis of national identity that needs resolution; whether we are citicentsor indigenes.
He cited an example of a Kano man who won election in Enugu and reigned for six years, saying this is the Nigeria of our dream. He urged the NUJ to lead the nation in the search for national models to create an ideal Nigeria.
The conference continues to Wednesday with speeches by the National president and governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike.