The All Progressives Governors Forum (PGF), Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, information managers at the federal and states governed by the governors on Thursday converged on Lagos to appraise mode of information dissemination in the country and submitted that there is deliberate attempt to misrepresent facts and bring down the present government.
The governors ,who were present and those that joined the meeting virtually noted that though the ruling party at the federal and states were delivering dividends of democracy despite the numerous challenges, certain individuals, separatists campaigners are bent on bringing down the government.
Speaking at the Progressives Governors’ Forum meeting with Information managers of the APC at Federal and state levels hosted by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Banquet Hall of Lagos House, Ikeja, the Minister of Information and Culture said 476 online platforms had be established by traducers to bring down President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
The minister whose address dwelt on, ‘Mitigating the Contemporary Challenges of Information and Communication Management,’ pointed out that the new information dissemination platforms and digital technology has posed serious challenges to the sector.
He said: ‘’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.
‘’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.
Mohammed added: ‘’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.
‘’Anyone can wake up this morning and decide to become an online newspaper publisher, online television station owner, online radio station operator, a purveyor of news, photographs and videos using the numerous Social media platforms which I listed earlier.
“They spread whatever information that catches their fancy without engaging in the rigours of accuracy, fact-checking and fairness imposed by the traditional media. But there is another problem.
‘’They have their own public, and this public believes whatever information they put out! To worsen matters, the traditional media is now increasingly regurgitating whatever is put out by these emergency purveyors of information.’’
He lamented that there is the painful lack of synergy among managers of information and communication in all strata of their government, saying clear demarcation of responsibilities is breached at will in what seemed to be unbridled competition.
In his address, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said there is need to properly communicate with the citizens and the electorates, urging the information managers to ensure that they communicate government policies effectively and efficiently to the people.
Sanwo-Olu said: “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,’’ urging the information managers to rise up to the challenges posed by the socio media.
Earlier, the chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum and Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagadu who joined the meeting virtually because of the ,’’ Security situation’ in his state said the progressive governors have done well at the federal and in the states they are governing.
He commended Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide 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.