The minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has appealed to the private broadcast media owners in Nigeria not to allow their platforms to be used to propagate ideas that can hinder national unity.
The minister made the appeal in Abuja yesterday, during a courtesy call by the Northern Broadcast Media Owners Association (NBMOA), noting that radio and television constitute very powerful platforms, because they are instant, emotive and are the sources of news and information for a large number of people.
‘’They (private broadcast media owners) must realise that in order to be able to practise their profession at all, they must first have a peaceful and united country. It is important for the private broadcast media owners to avoid the temptation to use their platforms to promote ethnic or religious agenda that are inimical to the emergence of a strong, peaceful, united and developed nation,’’ he said.
Alhaji Mohammed reminded the private broadcast media owners that irrespective of their location, they have a wide reach because their news and programmes are routinely uploaded to their websites, where they can be accessed by anyone with access to the Internet within and outside the country.
The minister said, ‘’That also increases their ability to help shape opinions, one way or another. This is why owners of such powerful platforms must exercise a high level of responsibility, be patriotic and also ensure that they put the national interest above sectional or sectarian considerations.’’
He added, ‘’Lest we be misunderstood, we are not asking you to shut out those whose opinions may not agree with yours. We are saying you must show great restraint in turning your platforms over to those whose opinions serve to divide us as a people.’’
To buttress his point, Alhaji Mohammed mentioned the role played in the 1994 Rwandan genocide by the Radio-Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLMC).