Ministry of Information Trains Information Officers to Tackle Fake News

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture

The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture facilitated a capacity building workshop for Strategic Communication on July 30, 2017 to equip Information Officers with skills to identify and counter fake news through engagement and counter narrative. The capacity building workshop was organised as a result of prevalence of fake news, according to the ministery.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that his ministry has strengthened the capacity of its information officers to tackle the dangers of fake news with fact-based counter-narrative. He disclosed that 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 spoke at a Workshop, with the theme Mainstreaming Strategic Communication Across Government for National Security,  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).

He noted that though the social media has proven to be a vital tool which influences public communication, it comes with its challenges particularly the frequent of fake news that is passed social media which makes it essential for information officers to brace up and overcome the challenge.

The Minister said that due to that frequent occurrence of fake news the Ministry took action by preparing information officer with the skills to identify and counter such fake news through engagement of counter narrative whereby Information Officers are assigned to monitor both online and offline news media in other to identity fake news and develop timely credible counter narratives to respond accordingly.

Alhaji Mohammed also disclosed that the Federal Government was implementing a robust strategic communication framework with feedback mechanism to interface with Nigerians on the policies and programmes of the government.

He said the ministry organised town hall meetings across the six geo-political zones to inform Nigerians and the international community about government programmes and to get their feedback. He added that through these town hall meetings, the Ministry is able to shape policy and improve on delivering promises to the people.

Expressing satisfaction with the town hall meetings, he said they have yielded positive results with the kind of direct feedback government receives from Nigerians. He said the interactions with Nigerians emphasise the importance government attaches to the people in carrying them along in the task of governance.

The Minister outlined 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 was leveraging on various social media platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter and Instagram to reach various audiences, especially the youths.

These Social Media platforms, he said, 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.