The Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Garba Abari has called on publishers of online newspaper and bloggers in the country to establish effective platforms for countering the current spate of hate speeches and fake news that are capable of inflaming the polity.
Abari stated this during a one-day roundtable with Bloggers and Publishers of Online Newspaper at the conference hall of the Agency’s Headquarters in Abuja. He urged participants of the event to promote the culture of objective, fair and balanced reportage of security issues and situations.
He said the aim of the event is to develop the capacity of media practitioners in conflict-sensitive reporting and communication and effectively engage the media in the various on-going memory-healing and reconciliation programs and processes in the localities recovering from devastation arising from insurgency and terrorism.
“The aim was to reason together, appreciate the dangers of conflict insensitive communication and possibly stimulate bloggers and social media enthusiasts to evolve a Code of Ethic in order to self regulate their practice. While significant gains have been recorded in this respect, the emergence and activities of the new media have thrown up great concerns within the social space” Abari said.
The NOA boss said these concerns are genuine for obvious reasons. “Its ambivalent character, both as a potent tool for promoting transparency, accountability and national peace and unity, on the one hand, and on the other, for promoting hatred, divisiveness and civil unrest, depending on the user and the motive”.
He said the development is attested to by the conflict insensitive posts, most social media platforms are saturated with, most of which are provocative, false and misleading, with consequences that are far reaching for our corporate existence as a country.
“A country as complex, diverse and fragile as ours, must be spared the horror that is the inevitable consequence of such conflict insensitive communication.
“The responsibility is ours, as a collective, to deliberately steer away from the path of chaos, anarchy and self-destruction.
“It is significant to know that there must be a country called Nigeria first before we are bloggers or journalists” Abari said.
He said in a bit to stem this dangerous tide, the Agency had commenced a process of engaging Bloggers and social media enthusiasts’ way back in 2014. “This had taken the Agency to four geo-political zones (North-Central, North-West, South-West and the South-South). Appreciable progress was recorded and we intend to sustain the momentum” he added.