Move By Global Media, Information Literacy To Tackle Misinformation Excites Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed joy to learn that the 11th Edition of the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) will come out from a Week-long Conference with Abuja Declaration for the purpose of addressing the growing misinformation and fake news.

“I am informed that one of the major outcomes of this 11th Edition of the Global MIL Week Feature Conference and Youth Forum will be the Abuja Declaration.

“The Declaration, I understand, will centre on Global Financing for Media and Information Literacy, as an imperative to fight misinformation and build trust in our societies. I therefore call on all nations, multilateral and donor agencies as well as people of goodwill to support this genuine and just cause.”

President Buhari, who spoke today, October 24 at the opening of the Global Media and Information Literacy at the Presidential villa, Abuja, said that the theme of this year’s Global MIL Week, which is “Nurturing Trust, a Media and Information Literacy Imperative,” would focuse 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.

The President, whose speech was delivered by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, stressed that trust is a key ingredient of democracy and good governance, adding that without trust, “our avowed pledge to deliver on our promises as leaders will be impeded by the lack of commitment from the governed.”

According to Buhari, 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.

“With regards to the use of social media which also underscores its potential to mould, shape and form opinion, we may note the following key statistics:

 

“59% of the World population uses social media which represents 3 out of every 5 people on earth

 

“Average daily use is estimated to be about 2 hours 29 minutes which is approximately 149 minutes or 31 minutes shy of the equivalent of sitting and watching 2 consecutive football games of 90 minutes each

“Over 70% of the people who use social media are 13 years and older.”

President Buhari noted that out of the top four social media platforms, three are interactive sites Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram, adding that in Nigeria with a population of about 220 million people, 37% is under 34 years and the country has about 100 million internet users, of which about 32 million are social media users.

 

He said that with these realities, the government has come to recognize and taken cognizance of the fact that Technology and social media offer the country nearly limitless opportunities that 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 and most importantly strengthen trust and social cohesion by improving critical thinking competencies to adequately assess the quality of information received and shared which I believe is a key component of the MIL programme this week.

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“The MIL has over the years proven to be a veritable tool in building the capacities of individuals and communities to learn, decipher, educate and effectively use data and information for the common good.

“In this regard, I congratulate UNESCO and all key stakeholders for their efforts in developing various initiatives and resources around the use of MIL to help in nurturing trust and countering mistrust. I also commend their efforts. in promoting the teaching and learning of MIL in formal and non formal institutions, as well as the establishment of the Global MIL institutes.

“On our part as a government, we will continue to support policies and plans aimed at advocating the use of MIL to create a peaceful and cohesive society where trust and respect for each other become a norm.

“Already, our collaboration with UNESCO and other partners has stimulated the development and promotion of MIL policies at all levels of government as well as strategies aimed at helping citizens to learn and imbibe the skills of MIL. In furtherance of this mission, we encouraged the establishment of the MIL Coalition of Nigeria (MILCON) in 2017, a Coalition established to facilitate coordination of interventions on MIL in Nigeria and promote synergy among stakeholders.

“These efforts have resulted in mainstreaming and domesticating the UNESCO MIL in the Curriculum of our Colleges of Education, by its inclusion in the General Studies Education component of the Nigeria Certificate in Education Minimum Standards curriculum, as a compulsory subject. In addition to this, information Science and Media studies, which is an adaptation of the MIL Curriculum, is now domiciled in our newly unbundled Mass Communication curriculum for all the Universities in Nigeria as recently unveiled by the National Universities Commission.”

The President said that he looked forward to the robust discussions and resolutions emanating from the 2022 edition of the Global Media and Information Literacy Week and the Youth Agenda Forum even as he advised them to jjointly work towards the following key conference themes during and after this gathering to help foster sustainable peace and development across our world:

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

– 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

– Develop Partnerships and provide funding to strengthen trust and solidarity in media and information literacy development at all levels of societies and,

– Encourage and promote media and information literacy policy at organisational, institutional, national, and regional levels in ensuring equitable and ethical access to quality information.

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