BY JOY YESUFU, Abuja
The coordinator of the African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL), Dr. Chido Onumah has urged youths to deploy the benefits of Media Information Literacy (MIL) skills to counter false information and promote positive information that will go a long way in promoting social inclusion and national cohesion.
Onumah stated this at the AFRICMIL/Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Webinar on Building MIL capacity for youths and students in tertiary institutions to promote peace, intercultural dialogue, and democratic decision-making.
He said daily fake news and messages with divisive undertones are posted on social media for consumption by unsuspecting users adding that this usually bring about one-sided discourse, pitting groups of youths against one another and giving rise to hate speech which threatens peaceful coexistence. “It is impossible these days to get an average youth to see issues as they are without attaching religious or ethnic sentiments to them” he added.
The coordinator further said this intervention is targeted at youths and students who are catalyst of change and considered an important social category that can help drive any progressive ideas and objectives forward noting that the future of democracy in Nigeria lies greatly on the shoulder of youths whose energy, knowledge and approach to governance will help in promoting social and peaceful co-existence in the country.
He said “MIL skills enable access to effective information and an understanding of the news media as well as help develop communication abilities. The aim is to provide youths with the knowledge of evaluating information and information sources with a view to addressing misinformation or bias about internet messages and news on different societal issues which can lead to tension, violence and truncation of the democratic process in the country.
“This intervention is planned to provide youths the opportunity to understand and deal with contemporary issues in a way that is responsible, informed, inclusive and effective as a way of ensuring unity, peace, and progress in Nigeria.
“For youths who make up a vital segment of the country’s population, the news media and the internet provide a window to the rest of the world. They provide tremendous opportunities, but also carry some risks. MIL helps youths take advantage of the opportunities, while safely avoiding the risks.
“While people get more access to information today than ever before, there is need for them to be equipped with the ability to critically assess the quality of news and information they are receiving and where necessary create their own messages”
Also speaking at the webinar, Regional Director of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation West Africa, Dr. Claus Dieter Konig, who was represented by Comrade Angela Odah said social media as a new communication strategy in the promotion of peace and intercultural dialogue is very important in view of the challenges Nigeria faces in the area of security, economically and socially.
He said social media no doubt plays a strategic role in our world turned a global village as it promotes discuss, educate and inform citizens in a way that 20 years ago was inconceivable also urging the youths to use this new social media tool to hold our various governments and its agencies to be more accountable to the will of the people.
The webinar is part of AFRICMIL’s Political Education Project which is supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.