Empowering Nigeria’s Youth: A Commitment to Media and Information Literacy-Idris

Alhaji Mohammed Idris - Hon. Minister of Information and National Orientation
Alhaji Mohammed Idris - Hon. Minister of Information and National Orientation

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, has reaffirmed Nigeria’s commitment to empowering its youth through Media and Information Literacy (MIL). He made the commitment at the Global Media and Information Literacy Week at the UN House, Abuja, on Wednesday, October 25, 2023.

“Mr. President remains committed to pursuing, supporting, and promoting MIL policies and programmes that will enhance the development and capacities of our citizens, especially the youth, in the effective use of media and information literacy,” he said.

The Minister, who was represented by the Director of Information Technology in the Ministry, Mrs. Comfort Ajiboye, said the government is working with UNESCO and other relevant partners to integrate MIL into our education system, train journalists and other media professionals, and raise greater awareness of MIL among the general public.

He expressed pride that Nigeria successfully hosted the 11th edition of Global Media and Information Literacy Week last year, receiving UNESCO’s highest rating. The event concluded with the signing of the Abuja Declaration, a global call to action for financing MIL initiatives and collaboration among stakeholders.

The UNESCO Executive Board, he said, has adopted the Abuja Declaration, recognizing its importance in promoting positive internet use, combating disinformation, and benefiting not only Nigeria but also countries in the sub-region. The Board has also approved the UNESCO International Media and Information Literacy Institute to be sited in Nigeria, with the aim of enhancing digital literacy and empowering citizens, especially youth.

Idris emphasized the importance of combating misinformation and disinformation in our digital age. The consequences, such as a decline in trust in institutions, the exacerbation of social divisions, and the incitement of violence, have become tools in the hands of desperate and unscrupulous individuals to undermine our world while hiding behind the pretext of freedom of expression. He called for a united global effort to promote media literacy and build a more informed and resilient world.

He emphasized the need for collective action, stating, “We must unite globally to combat the harmful effects of misinformation and disinformation. By promoting media literacy and implementing global guidelines for regulating digital platforms, we can uphold freedom of expression while holding users accountable.”

During his speech, Mr. Diallo Abdourahamane, who spoke on behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, emphasized the increasing popularity of digital networks for self-expression, knowledge acquisition, and social interaction. However, he also pointed out the negative impact of disinformation and hate speech that often circulates on these networks. To address this issue, UNESCO is actively promoting media and information literacy, encouraging people to think critically and verify facts before accepting any information.

Suleiman Haruna
Deputy Director, Press
Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation