By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Federal Government on Saturday challenged the media to take the lead in telling the Nigerian story to forestall recurring distortions by their foreign counterparts.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the charge at the inauguration of “Ogo Ilu’” (Pride of the Society) FM station in Oko, near Ogbomoso, Oyo State.
The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports ‘Ogo Ilu’ is an FM station of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) made possible under the constituency project of Hon. Olusegun Odebunmi.
Odebunmi, who is from Oko town and representing Ogo Oluwa/Surulere Federal Constituency, is the Chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Value and Ethics.
The minister admonished the media not to cede their authority foreign media and social media, which has no time for the rigours of gate-keeping or fact checking.
“A situation in which foreign broadcast stations arrogate to themselves the power to tell our own story gives room for distortion of facts.
“This is the type we saw recently when CNN reported that 38 people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate during the EndSARS crisis, only to backtrack and review the number to one – after 35 days of what it called exclusive investigation.
“Had the local broadcast media lived up to their billing, CNN would have relied on them for news about EndSARS in particular and other happenings in Nigeria, in general.
“We would have been saved from the one-sided, unfair, unbalanced and jaundiced narrative that CNN foisted on the world under the guise of exclusive investigation.
“A situation in which the local media will rely and quote a foreign broadcast media, for an event that happened in Nigeria, is an anomaly. It has to stop,” the minister said.
He said the media should help in informing the people about the various projects of government and their impact on the people.
According to the minister, the FM station being commissioned is a trailblazer, being the first radio station built as community project in the country.
He congratulated Odebunmi for his foresight, and the FRCN as represented by its Director-General, Dr. Mansur Liman, for helping to make the radio station a reality.
Mohammed said radio is the most effective way of delivering information in remote corners and the FM station would help in disseminating genuine news to the people.
The DG of FRCN said the birth of the FM station into the Radio Nigeria family was significant, and came with multiple benefits to the immediate community, the local government area, the state and the country in general.
He thanked the minister and the lawmaker for their commitment to the success of the project.
Liman disclosed that Odebunmi single handedly conceived the idea of the FM station as his own constituency project and provided the land it was built on at no cost to the federal government.
He said the lawmaker sourced for the money and made sure the fund was released by the Ministry of Finance and remained vigilant to make sure that the project was completd.
“Today everyone that is here is a witness to what Hon. Odebunmi has been able to acheive and this is only one of the many democratic devidends that he has been able to bring to his people.
“Sir your passion and commitment for this project, projecting the positive image of the legislature and the government is highly commendable.
“With this project you have left an indelible footprint, you have brought Federal Government presence and indeed democratic dividends close to your people,” he said.
Liman said the FM station belongs to the community and the people should guard and protect it and all other government assets jealously.
On his part, Odebunmi said the project signified selfless service and his own contribution to the development of his people.
He said the radio station would enable his people to be better citizens and help to tackle the menace of hate speech and disinformation.
NAN reports that traditional rulers from Oko and the constituency hailed the lawmaker for representing them well and the Federal Government for funding the project. (NAN)