The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on Friday urged journalists to take advantage of the available digital tools to stop fake news.
Mallam Kashitu Abdullahi, Director-General of the agency, gave the advice at a workshop organised by the Image Merchant Promotions Limited, in collaboration with the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Port Harcourt.
Abdullahi said that the workshop, with the theme, “Imperatives of Digital News Verifications for 2023 Election”, was apt as it was directed to the upcoming general elections.
Abdullahi, represented by Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head Corporate Affairs and External Relations, said the agency was committed to the expansion of digital space, development of journalists’ human capital and the promotion of robust digital-based journalism.
He said such practice would serve the best interest of the nation.
Abdullahi mentioned seven strategic key pillars of digital economy of the agency to include developmental regulations, digital literacy and skills, digital transformation, digital innovation and enterpreneurship cyber security.
Abdullahi said the objective was to articulate the new strategy for NITDA in accordance with the current aspirations of the government, the realities of the day and to contribute its quota to the implementation of the index, lunched by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2019.
He commended the Image Merchant Promotions Limited, in collaboration with the NUJ, for making the workshop a reality.
He mentioned some of the challenges of digital erea as the over bearing presence of unregulated social media where fake news, toxic content, hate speech, divisive and inciting narratives were in because there were no gate keepers to direct it.
He said that knowing how to do fact checking by journalists would help them to do their jobs better and stem the tide of fake news.
Similarly, Mr Yushau Shuaibu, the Managing Director, Image Merchant outfit, urged journalists to be up on their duties, checking facts to ensure not to misinform, disinform or malinform the public.
Shuaibu urged journalists to be professional and more responsible in the information they gave to the public for the growth of the society.
Shuaibu advised journalists to be the gate keepers of the society and not social media influencers whose actions were detrimental to the peace and unity of the country.
In his speech, Mr Chris Isiguzo, the National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), said the workshop was to sensitise journalists to digital journalism and fact-checking before the up coming general elections.
Isiguzo commended the Director General of NITDA for approving the training proposal for journalists in the country.
“We want to reduce all manner of fake news as far as this year’s election is concerned; we have gone to 21 states, we intend to go round the country to be able to build the capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 journalists, preparatory to the election,” he said.
Isiguzo reiterated the union’s commitment to partner with the security agencies, to ensure the safety of journalists before, during and after the elections.
Participants were trained on digital journalism, facts checking, digital inclusion, media ethics, responsible reporting and self-censorship in crisis communication.