Following the recurring menace of fake news in the country, the Federal Government have decided to rejig the Information Officers (IOs) on how to effectively counter this effect with fact-based narratives.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, dropped the hint in Abuja in his key note address at a capacity building Workshop with the theme “Mainstreaming Strategic Communication across Government for National Security” 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).
The Minister said that though the Social Media has proved to be a powerful tool of public communication, it is bedevilled with challenges, particularly the prevalence of fake news, and urged the Information Officers to brace up to 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,” he said.
Federal Government, he added 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 pointed out.
He also highlighted 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 affirmed that due to 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.”
On his part, The National Security Adviser, (NSA) Mohammed Babagana Monguno who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Ambassador Aminu Nabegu, charged the participants to come up with a strategic communication plan to counter the propaganda and negative narratives by terror and anti-state groups.
The NSA buttressed that the present administration has eliminated inter-agency rivalry in order to achieve seamless and coordinated approach to effective communication.