The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in collaboration with UNESCO, on Tuesday, 18th February, 2020 at the National Press Centre, Radio House, Abuja, organised a one-day symposium on Media and Information Literacy, with the theme: “Media and Information Literate Citizens: Informed, Engaged, Empowered”.
The Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammad who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Grace Isu Gekpe, stated that the symposium on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) was part of the Ministry’s effort towards achieving its public communication mandate.The mandate includes the facilitation of access to information as well as the formulation and implementation of policies, for the creation of efficient, effective, reliable and adequate information services as a means of promoting the socio-economic and cultural development of Nigeria.
The MIL would assist in curbing the menace of hate speech, fake news, youth radicalization and violent extremism online and offline, which has become a global issue over the years, as it seeks to address the challenges of the new media, “while offering greater opportunities for new type of citizen engagement, that is centred on freedom and eradicating inequalities which give rise to issues of safety, security and privacy” he noted.
He expressed appreciation towards UNESCO and Federal Ministry of Education, for developing a circulum on MIL, designed with teachers in mind and for intergration into the formal teacher education system. This is intended to reach and build the capacities of millions of young people that need relevant and reliable information for their day to day living.
Speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretatry,Grace Isu Gekpe, repesented by the the Director, Public Communication and National Orientation, Mrs. Princilia Ihuoma (mni), stated that the event was one of the strategies deployed by the Ministry to engage the various strata of the citizenry for inclusiveness and continued process of nurturing the most vulnurable in the society for proper orientation towards dessemination of information, given the country’s perculiarity.
She noted that the overall objective of the symposium on MIL, which is of immense benefit to the Ministry and country at large, offers an effective counter strategy to tackle nagative trends being perpetrated through the media by demostrating its effectiveness in winning hearts and minds, when applied for pro-social purposes.
Mr. Abdoulaye Salifon, Education Adviser for Higher Education, represented the UNESCO Regional Director and country Director Yao YDO, in his goodwil message stated that MIL is an umbrella concept used by UNESCO to stress the inter- relatedness of competencies regarding information broadly and media in particular, adding that the internet and new ICTs must be a platform for positive engagement, peace, promoting respect for human rights and dignity, enabling dialogue and mutual understanding.
The Director General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, who was represented by Dr. Davidson Aminu, stated that NOA through its existing national structure, would continue to sustain proactive sensitization campaign to curb incidences of hate speech and fake news, as they were both recipes for violence and anarchy.
The Honourable Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen on her part, commended the Ministry and UNESCO for organising the programme and reteirated the need for senior citizens, leaders and parents to set exemplary goals and guide the kind of words said to the youths of the nation, considering the damage hate speech and fake news has done to many countries. She appealed to everyone to preach love in order to stop hate speech.
Speaking, the Minster of Youth and Sport Development, Mr Sunday Dare, advised that a mechanism be developed to curtail hate speech, citing the case of Rwanda, which because of hate speech amongst two tribes, recorded one of the worst cases of genocide ever recorded. He added that a method be devised to regulate social media even though, he does not encourage censorship.
IO I (IT)