NIGERIA’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has called on all nations, multilateral and donor agencies to support global financing of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) to curb the spread of misinformation and disinformation.
Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, made this remark at the high-level opening session of the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) Week 2022 with the theme: “Nurturing Trust, a Media and Information Literacy Imperative”.
The president noted that fake news had been weaponized to aggravate conflicts and crises, exacerbate insecurity, distort government efforts, fuel apprehension among the citizens and create distrust between the governments and their people.
Buhari said it was evident in Nigerian societies that getting reliable information is a constant battle, adding that media practitioners and stakeholders within the sector face the clear and present danger of misinformation.
The president stressed the need for stakeholders to unite to defend freedom of speech and continue working for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities.
Buhari said the hosting of this year’s event had amplified the commitment of the Nigerian 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 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 pointed out the potency of social media to mould, shape, and form an opinion, noting that 59 per cent of the world population uses social media, representing three out of every five people on earth. In contrast, about 100 million of Nigeria’s 220 million people are internet users.
He stressed that technology and social media offered the country 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 the information received and shared which I believe is a key component of the MIL programme this week,” he added.