By Christian ABURIME
Throughout history, the power of information has been recognized as a crucial tool in shaping societal stability.
Information can either unite people or divide them, depending on how it is disseminated and interpreted.
However, the advent of digital technology has brought with it a new kind of information warfare, with the proliferation of fake news, propaganda and misinformation posing significant dangers to both government and societal stability.
Fake news, propaganda, and misinformation can be defined as deliberately false or misleading information that is spread through various media channels, with the intention of influencing public opinion or behaviour.
This kind of information can come in many forms, through facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram including tweets, videos and blog posts. The rise of these types of information is due to the ease with which anyone can create and distribute content online.
One of the most significant dangers of fake news and misinformation is the potential for them to undermine the credibility of government institutions and elected officials.
This can lead to a breakdown in trust between citizens and their government, which is vital for maintaining a stable and functioning democracy. If people no longer believe that their government is acting in their best interests, they may be less likely to comply with laws and regulations, leading to societal chaos.
Fake news, propaganda and misinformation can also fuel polarization and conflict within society. This is currently manifesting in this age of social media, where people can easily sit in the comfort of their homes to create and share content that confirms their preexisting biases and beliefs. This creates an echo chamber where people are exposed only to information that supports their worldview, be it political, ethnic or religious, leading to a lack of empathy and understanding for those with different perspectives.
Such is the manner of proliferation of politically motivated fake news and misinformation spiralling out of control in Anambra State these days that calls for concern. The trend, if not checked, is dangerous, alarming and can scuttle the appreciable progress being made under the current state government led by our indefatigable governor, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, CFR
For instance, the latest fabricated bout of fake news and misinformation being spewed out from the factory of mischief makers is that Governor Soludo vowed never to work with elected members of the State House of Assembly who are not APGA party members. The governor was also accused of threatening to oppress any opposition lawmaker in Anambra State. These spurious insinuations are conveyed in doctored online videos making the rounds and recycled by unsuspecting people.
There is no iota of truth in those viral videos. They are pure fake news products meant to cause public disaffection and run down the APGA government.
The trending video that went viral few days back is nothing but cooked-up attempt by some mischief makers to incite Ndi Anambra against the state government and score cheap political points, especially with the frenzy of the upcoming House of Assembly election in the state on Saturday March 18, 2023.
Without grandstanding, Governor Soludo could never have made such provocative statements attributed to him because he is a law-abiding democrat and civilized gentleman. As a governor elected by the popular will of Ndi Anambra a year ago, he has been working as a leader for everybody, no matter their clannish or political affiliation.
In a similar vein, there is mischief in the imputations contained in another trending video in which a former Commissioner in the state made some anti-APGA comments. Findings show that the video is an old video, which some mischief makers recently exhumed and started circulating on the social media to taint APGA's reputation. The Commissioner in the said video made those anti-APGA assertions under a previous state administration. Today, the same commissioner is back in APGA fold and a committed member of the current Soludo government.
Thus, contrary to a house-divided-against-itself picture enemies of progress want to paint, APGA stands robustly united.
Along with the monumental infrastructure projects going on in Anambra State today with the 265kms of road constructions, massive employment of 5,000 teachers in the education sector, Empowerment of 5,000 youths via the One 'Youth, Two-Skill' programme, the over 350 Doctors and Nurses recently employed to boost the health sector, the massive 'operate light up Anambra' that is on-going and the vastly improved security situation that reflected in the peaceful February 25 elections in the state deserve commendations. These are some of the sterling achievements of Governor Soludo.
In view of the fore-going, APGA candidates are indeed deserving of being massively voted in the March 18 State House of Assembly election. When Ndi Anambra supports APGA candidates to win the majority votes in the State House of Assembly election, it will help the state government to sustain the progress made so far with infrastructural development across the state.
So, Ndi Anambra, it is in our collective best interest of sustainable development to stop spreading fake news and support the government of Prof Chukwuma Charles Soludo
To stop fake news from endangering our progress, citizens must be vigilant in seeking out accurate information and fact-checking before sharing or forwarding anything on social media. As fake news as simple as a tweet can trigger a war in society, or spread of inaccurate information can lead to a breakdown in trust between citizens and their government with serious consequences, we must all take responsibility for seeking out accurate information and being vigilant in our consumption and sharing of information.
Only through a collective effort can we ensure that information is used as a tool for unity and progress rather than division.
ABURIME is the Chief Press Secretary to the Anambra State Gov. Prof. Soludo.