Deji Elumoye and Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, identified misinformation as exacerbating conflicts and insecurity in the country and were being used to fuel apprehension among the citizens and create distrust between the governments and their peoples.
In his address at the opening session of the 11th Session of Global Media and Information Literary Week (MIL) at the State House, Abuja, the president said, therefore said stakeholders in the country were already facing danger as a result.
In the speech delivered by his Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, the president stressed the need for stakeholders to come together to defend freedom of speech and continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities.
Buhari said the hosting of this event has amplified the commitment of the federal government to the continued implementation of the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution on media and information literacy, which called on countries around the world to develop and implement policies, actions and strategies related to the promotion of media and information literacy.
“The theme of this year’s Global MIL Week: ‘Nurturing Trust, a Media and Information Literacy Imperative’ focuses on the use of MIL to address a fundamental element of human and national development, which seems to be waning in most societies of the World. Trust is a key ingredient of democracy and good governance. Without trust, our avowed pledge to deliver on our promises as leaders will be impeded by the lack of commitment from the governed.
“As it is evident in our societies, getting reliable information is a constant battle. Media practitioners and stakeholders within the sector face the clear and present danger of misinformation. Misinformation has been used to aggravate conflicts and crisis, exacerbate insecurity, distort government efforts, fuel apprehension among the citizens and create distrust between the governments and their peoples,” Buhari said.
He also recognised the potency of the social media to mould, shape and form opinion, noting that 59 per cent of the world population uses social media, which represents three out of every five people on earth, while about 100 million of Nigeria’s 220 million people were internet users.
He stressed that technology and social media offered the country nearly limitless opportunities, which must be harnessed especially, by the youth to strengthen the foundations of the society and its common values.
“However, in confronting challenges of rising misinformation and hate speech, we must also come together to defend freedom of speech, whilst upholding other values that we cherish. We must continue to work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm and help strengthen and enrich our communities and most importantly, strengthen trust and social cohesion by improving critical thinking competencies to adequately assess the quality of information received and shared which I believe is a key component of the MIL programme this week,” he added.