Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has challenged government Information Managers to boldly take on the challenges posed by the new information and digital technology in order to tackle purveyors of falsehood.
Alhaji Mohammed said it would also help to saturate the various platforms offered by the Social Media with factual information.
The Information minister was speaking in Asaba, Delta State, at the 46th National Council on Information, which has the theme: ‘Leveraging on Information and Digital Technology to Sustain The Change Agenda of Government.’
He said the theme is a reminder of the ’paradox of technology’ that has resulted from the information and digital technology.
”On one hand, the information and digital technology provides us with great opportunities. On the other hand, it is fraught with great challenges. We are therefore being tasked, on a daily basis, with how to balance this paradox and make the best of it.
“We must key into the information and digital revolution in order to better deliver on the tasks before us. We must use factual information to drown out those who are bent on misinforming our people and making it impossible for them to be a part of the change agenda. We must always stay ahead of the pack. We must be proactive rather than be reactive,” the Minister explained.
He said governments at all levels must provide their information managers with adequate resources, training and re-training and the state-of-the-art facilities they require to do their work.
Alhaji Mohammed noted that even though the New Media has become the fastest and most convenient way of disseminating public information, it has also sadly become platforms for some people to distort information and mislead the public.
“Yes, cashing in on the still evolving new information and digital technology will undoubtedly facilitate our work. The multiplicity, immediacy and pervasiveness of the platforms of information dissemination mean that we can reach more people much faster. That should be a good thing. But when you remember that those who are trying hard to distort the information you are putting out also have access to the same technology, you will realize the meaning of the paradox of technology that I spoke about earlier. In other words, the democratization of the technology of information dissemination has posed new challenges to us,” he said.
The Minister expressed concern about how the Social Media has become an all-comers affair dominated by emergency purveyors of information who ply their trade without engaging in the rigours of accuracy, fact-checking and fairness imposed by the traditional media, saying Information Managers must strive to reverse the trend.
He cited the report that claimed that ’Change Begins With Me’, the national reorientation campaign which was launched by Mr. President last month, is costing the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture 3.4 billion Naira, as an example of false information, wondering how a Ministry with a total capital budget of less than two billion Naira in 2016 will spend 3.4 billion Naira on just one project.
Alhaji Mohammed also informed the gathering that the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, which the Ministry has embarked upon, offers immense possibilities and opportunities in the way information is disseminated, saying with over 24 million television
households, critical information can be passed on to the citizenry through the Set-Top Boxes’ information portal at the push of a button and at little or no cost.
He explained that as change agents, Information Managers must understand the concept of change itself before they can mobilise the society to change, in line with the Change Agenda of the present administration.
”People have asked: What is this change agenda all about? The answer is simple. It is the change from impunity to accountability, change from corruption to transparency, change from a mono-product economy to a diversified economy, change from unemployment to job creation, change from moral decadence to moral revival, change from lost values to restoration of time-tested values, change from reliance on imported goods to Made-in-Nigeria products and change from gender insensitivity to gender sensitivity, just to mention a few examples,” the Minister said.
He charged the delegates to the council, including the Commissioners of Information from across the country, to promote the image of the country rather than succumb to the antics of those who are bent on imposing a new perception on the country.
On his part, the Delta state governor,Senator Ifeanyi Okowa said information management is critical to national development and as such, the managers should be accorded the right resources, platforms and whatever they require to function effectively.
He said more often than not, citizen mistrust arises from information mismanagement and unprofessional conduct.