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‘Hit social media, Minister tells Information Managers

‘Hit social media, Minister tells Information Managers
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The Federal Government has asked information managers to take to social media and “saturate the platforms with factual information” under plans to share activities of the public sector.

Government says that if Information Managers in Nigeria adequately exploit digital technology, they will tackle peddlers of falsehood and provide factual information to the public.

The Minister 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 N3.4 billion, as an example of false information, wondering how a Ministry with a total capital budget of less than N2 billion in 2016 will spend N3.4 billion on just one project.

While speaking at the opening of the 46th National Council on Information in Asaba, Delta State at the weekend, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, asked information managers to saturate the various platforms offered by the social media with “factual information.”

The Minister said the theme of the event – Leveraging on Information and Digital Technology to Sustain The Change Agenda of Government – is a reminder of the “paradox of technology” that has resulted from the information and digital technology.

According to the Minister, “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.”

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Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, speaking at the opening of the 46th National Council on Information in Asaba, Delta State, on Friday.

The Minister says that “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.”

According to him, “we must never let down our guard because, for information managers, there should be no down time. This is because while you are fast asleep, those who will make your task impossible are fully awake! We must understand and harness the enormous powers of the traditional and the new tools of information dissemination to communicate the activities of government and also get feedback,” the Minister added.

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, the Minister adds.

He says that even though the New Media has become the fastest and most convenient way of disseminating public information, it has also 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.

A mobile phone user seen at the Lagos Social Media Week
A mobile phone user seen at the Lagos Social Media Week

“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 says.

The Minister is concerned 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, calling on Information Managers to strive to reverse the trend.

The Minister 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 N3.4 billion, as an example of false information, wondering how a Ministry with a total capital budget of less than N2 billion in 2016 will spend N3.4 billion on just one project.

Mohammed also informed the gathering that the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting championed by the Ministry, offers immense possibilities and opportunities in the way information is disseminated, saying with over 24 million TV 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.

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, he adds.

“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 thus charged the delegates at 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.

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Donatus Anichukwueze Technology Journalist at Technology Times Media Phone No: 08074016066 e-mail: donatus.anichukwueze@technologytimes.ng

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