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Buhari charges Nigerians on freedom of speech, misinformation

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Buhari charges Nigerians on freedom of speech, misinformation

Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigerians must come together to defend freedom of speech, uphold other values that the nation cherishes, and confront the challenges of rising misinformation and hate speech.

President Buhari disclosed this at the high-level opening session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Global Media And Information Literacy (MIL) Week 2022 with the theme: “Nurturing Trust, a Media and Information Literacy Imperative”, saying that fake news and misinformation, has been used to aggravate conflicts and crises, exacerbate insecurity, distort government efforts, fuel apprehension among the citizens and create distrust between the governments and their people.

The President who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, pointed out the evidence of misinformation in Nigeria, lamenting that sourcing reliable information is constantly becoming a battle as media practitioners and stakeholders within the sector are confronted with the dangers of misinformation.

“Here in Nigeria with a population of about 220 million people, 37 per cent is under 34 years and the country has about 100 million internet users, of which about 32 million are social media users.”

He affirmed that the Buhari led administration will continue to strive for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm, whilst strengthening the trust and social cohesion by critically assessing the quality of information received and shared.

He also urged the UNESCO and participants at the gathering to assist in sustainably fostering global peace and development.

“Promote media and information literacy as a viable development intervention to nurture trust, social protection, and solidarity.

Buhari charges Nigerians on freedom of speech, misinformation

“Accelerate the pace of people’s access to media and information literacy in parallel to universal digital connectivity.

“Promote media and information literacy as a key component for the exercise of fundamental human rights.

“Popularise the new UNESCO resource Global Standards for Media and Information Literacy Curricula Development Guidelines.

“Develop innovative ways to bridge inequalities in assessing media and information literacy.”

The Director General, UNESCO, Audrey Azouley lamented the prevalence of fake news and misinformation globally noting that fake news has led to genocide and has incited violence, hatred, and discrimination.

“Whether or not we can practice that right seems to be in great part, at least in the hands of tech companies. Some of you may be familiar with Amnesty International’s damning report entitled The Social Atrocity, which explains how matters content shaping algorithms, proactively amplified and promoted content on the Facebook platform which incited violence, hatred, and discrimination against the Rohingya.

“It will not have been the first time in history that media technology no matter how elaborate, is used to spread hate to discriminate and conduct ethnic cleansing, genocide, or other atrocities.” She said.

Also in his address, the assistant director general of Communication and Information UNESCO, Dr Tawfik Jelassi stressed the need to collaborate with technology companies, digital platform operators, and the parties that put disseminate information online globally to ensure it is of public good.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the MIL is aimed at equipping citizens with the ability to critically evaluate the use information at their disposal before use.

This he says is of utmost important in an era where there is a need to decipher what information is true and that which is false.

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Buhari charges Nigerians on freedom of speech, misinformation

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