*Says public discourse driven by alternative fact
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, at a book launch in Eko Hotel, Lagos, described the social media as a menace that must be regulated.
Speaking yesterday at the presentation of “National Public Discourse: the interplay between empirical evidence and hyperbole,” a book by Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, Tinubu said there was clear evidence that public discourse was driven by alternative facts.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila, who first spoke before delivering his prepared speech, the president said the views of Miss Toyosi Akerele, one of the panelists, shared closely with his sentiments.
“Social media is a menace and must be regulated. I’m happy listening to Toyosi this morning. Perhaps that’s a change in mindset,” Tinubu, speaking through his chief of staff, said in his opening remarks, even as he recounted several abuses of the social media.
However, delivering his speech, he said, “We are living through one of the most fraught periods in modern human history. The world is changing all around us.
“The international settlements underpinning the global order since the end of the Second World War are being renegotiated in real time across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
“Amidst this global turmoil, we are at home confronted by difficult public policy choices and decisions that must be made to ensure our children’s future and our country’s prospects.
“In this historical moment, as we confront and overcome the challenges that threaten our future, we have an obligation as leaders in politics and government to engage in evidence-based discourse and data-reliant decision-making as a matter of course.
“But as citizens interested in the issues of state and governance, the obligation is even more significant to ensure that our engagement with each other springs from a shared agreement on what truth is, what is real and what isn’t.
“We live in what some observers have described as a post-truth world. This is a world where nothing is real, politics is fuelled by emotive arguments, and objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to identity and personal belief.
“In this new world, public discourse is driven by alternative facts, dropped with reckless abandon on social media and technology, including artificial intelligence tools, allowing for the creation of false realities to confuse and deceive people and distort perceptions of what is real and what isn’t.”
The president explained that, “The challenge we face and must meet head-on is how to return to having a public discourse and a political and policy decision-making process that overcomes this new paradigm.
“And we must because if we cannot agree on common truths and don’t exist in the same reality, then we cannot develop the shared values and a common purpose that is the central requirement for cohesion and national identity.
“My brother, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has set out to address this challenge in this book. In his usual style, he has approached the subject with an abundance of scholarly rigour, bringing his considerable intellect, wealth of experience, and passionate patriotism to a critical subject matter that has been too long ignored.
“In this book, He has research and data analysis to help us develop a more nuanced understanding of the nature of the problem so that we can better understand how this challenge hinders the cause of our nationhood and what we must do to recover and change course, in the interest of our beloved nation.
“Those of us who know Babatunde Fashola are not in the least surprised by this undertaking. Throughout his public service, he has made it a point of duty to seek out and try to solve the thorniest problems and the most difficult tasks.
“This book is part of that legacy and is evidence of a continued determination to be a part of the solutions that advance the cause of our humanity and ensure the progress of our nation and her people.”
Thus, on behalf of the president, and the Nigerian people, Gbajabiamila said, “I thank you for your efforts, Sir. I am confident that the insights of this book will enlighten, influence, and improve our public discourse.
“It will impact the way we make decisions in government at all levels as we strive collectively to meet the promise and overcome the perils of this critical moment in our nation and in the history of the world.
“I will endeavour to see that as many of my colleagues and friends as possible receive copies of this book so that they, too, can benefit from the insights contained therein. I am honoured to be here today to participate in this public presentation.”