President Muhammadu Buhari has called on all nations, multilateral and donor agencies, to support global financing of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) to fight fake news, misinformation
The President made the call in Abuja when he declared open the UNESCO Global Media and Information Literacy Week with the theme, Nurturing Trust: A Media and Information Literacy imperative.
The President who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari said he was aware that one of the major outcomes of the Conference will be the Abuja Declaration.
The Abuja Declaration, according to him, will centre on Global Financing for Media and Information Literacy, as an imperative to fight misinformation and build trust in the societies.
He, therefore reiterated that the global funding of MIL is a genuine course and should be supported by all nations of the globe, groups and individuals of goodwill.
The President said the theme of the Information Literacy week is apt because it focussed on truth and trust.
He noted that Trust is a fundamental elements of human and national development, but seem 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 because 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,” he said.
The President added that the widely use of social media and its potential to mould, shape and form opinion has made the financing of media literacy imperative.
“We fully recognise and are cognisant that technology and social media offer us nearly limitless opportunities which must be harnessed especially by the youth to strengthen the foundations of our society and our 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,” he said.
The President congratulated UNESCO and all key stakeholders for their efforts in developing various initiatives and resources around the use of media and information literacy to help in nurturing trust and countering mistrust.
He assured that Nigeria would continue to support policies and plans aimed at advocating the use of media and information literacy to create a peaceful and cohesive society where trust and respect for each other become a norm.
The President said he looked forward to robust discussions and resolutions in the week-long event.
Earlier, Dr Tawfik Jelassi, Assistant Director l-General, Communication and Information, UNESCO said the challenge of trust misinformation and fake news in information dissemination is truly a multi stakeholder challenge that could be tacked n the most inclusive possible way.
Jelassi said the theme for the week was apt and people from all over the worlds physically in Abuja and hundreds of people connected online would find a lasting solution to it.
He thanked President Buhari and the government and people of Nigeria for hosting the week to discuss and share experiences and insights on the topic.
Also speaking, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the theme of the week was designed to equip citizens with the ability to critically evaluate and wisely use information at their disposal.
He urged participants to take advantage of the week to equip themselves on how to better tackle the challenge of disinformation, misinformation, fake news and hate speech.