Members of the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, information managers at the federal and states governed by All Progressives Congress (APC) governors on Thursday met in Lagos to appraise mode of information dissemination in the country, submitting that there was deliberate attempt to misrepresent facts and bring down the present government.
The governors, who met virtually at the meetings hosted by Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the Banquet Hall of Lagos House, Ikeja, noted that though the ruling APC government at the federal and state level were delivering dividends of democracy despite the numerous challenges, but lamented that certain individuals, separatists campaigners were bent on bringing down the government.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his speech titled: ‘Mitigating the Contemporary Challenges of Information and Communication Management,’ disclosed that a total of 476 online platforms had been established by traducers to bring down President Muhammadu Buhari- led government, pointing out that the new information dissemination platforms and digital technology had posed serious challenges to the sector.
The minister described social media as double-edged sword, just as he said Twitter had to be suspended because of the threat it posed to the country through gross abuse of the its operation, but quickly noted that it was a tough decision to take by the Federal Government.
“The social media is a double-edged sword, providing opportunities and challenges perhaps in equal measure. For the information and communication manager, the so-called new media provides the ultimate test.
“As you all know, we recently had to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria because of the threat posed by the gross abuse of the platform to the nation’s peace and unity. Twitter is the platform of choice for separatist campaigners, especially those of them residing outside the country, who use it to issue directives to their followers in Nigeria to attack our security forces as well as to burn police stations and INEC offices.
“It was a tough decision to take, considering that many of our youths also use the platform for business. Such is the challenge posed by social media. At its request, the government has agreed to engage with Twitter and, hopefully, we can both chart a path forward, without compromising our national interest,” he said.
“While many have accused us of stifling the press with the ban, we say Twitter is just one of many social media platforms being used by Nigerians. WhatsApp, which is most used by Nigerians, is there. And there is Facebook, Instagram, Google hangout, etc,” he added.
Mohammed, however, argued that leveraging the new information and digital technology would undoubtedly facilitate government as government information and communication managers, saying the multiplicity, immediacy and pervasiveness of the platforms of information dissemination meant that government can reach more people much faster.
“Leveraging the new information and digital technology will undoubtedly facilitate our work as government information and communication managers. The multiplicity, immediacy and pervasiveness of the platforms of information dissemination mean that we can reach more people much faster.
“Ordinarily, that should be a good thing. 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 is posing new challenges to us,” the minister said.
Speaking further, the minister lamented lack of synergy among managers of information and communication in all strata of their government, describing such as painful.
This was just as he noted that “clear demarcation of responsibilities is breached at will in what seemed to be unbridled competition amongst the practitioners.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu, in his address said there was the need to properly communicate with the citizens and the electorate, urging the information managers to be proactive by rising up to the challenges posed by the socio media and ensure that they communicate government policies effectively and efficiently to the people.
“We need to be proactive in this era of social media. As good as novel as they bring on board they also come with challenges,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Earlier, Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and Kebbi State governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagadu, who joined the meeting virtually said the progressive governors had done well at the federal and in the states they were governing.
He commended Governor Sanwo-Olu and his Kaduna State counterpart, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai both co-chairmen of the PGF Media and Communications Programme for organising the meeting.
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