Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the Ministry has strengthened the capacity of its Information Officers to tackle the menace of fake news with fact-based counter-narrative.
The Minister stated this in Abuja on Wednesday in his keynote address at a capacity building Workshop for Strategic Communication Liaison Officers, with the theme “Mainstreaming Strategic Communication Across Government for National Security.”
He said though the Social Media has proved to be a powerful tool of public communication, it is plagued with challenges, particularly the prevalence of fake news which makes it imperative for Information Officers to brace up and overcome the challenge.
”Faced with the prevalence of fake news, we took action by preparing Information Officers with the skills to identify and counter such fake news through engagement and counter narrative. Information Officers are assigned to monitor both online and offline news media to identify such fake news and develop timely and credible counter narratives to respond to such fake news,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
He said the Federal Government is also implementing a robust strategic communication framework, with feedback mechanism, to interface with Nigerians on the policies and programmes of government.
“For example, we engage through Town Hall Meetings across the six geo-political zones to inform Nigerians and the international community about our programmes and to listen to criticism, feedback and advice from the citizens.
”Through these meetings, we are able to shape policy and improve on delivering our promises to the people. The town hall meetings, undoubtedly, have yielded positive results with the kind of direct feedback we received from Nigerians. These interactions with Nigerians underscore the importance this administration attaches to the people in carrying them along in the task of governance,” the Minister said.
He underscored the critical role of Information Officers in strengthening government communication to achieve national strategic objectives, particularly in managing the image, reputation and promoting the cultures of the people of Nigeria through a dynamic public information system.
He said because of the dynamics of public communication, ”the ministry is leveraging on various Social Media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter and Instagram to reach our audiences, especially the youths. These Social Media platforms also provide unique opportunity for the Ministry to aggregate and gauge public opinions and perceptions of government.”
The National Security Adviser, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Ambassador Aminu Nabegu, challenged participants to come up with a strategic communication plan to counter the propaganda and negative narratives by terror and anti-state groups.
He said the present administration has eliminated inter-agency rivalry in order to achieve seamless and coordinated approach to effective communication.
The Workshop was organized by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) to build the capacity of Strategic Communication Liaison Officers (SC/LO) across Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs),