By SAMSON AKINTARO
Stakeholders in the ICT industry have applauded the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its judicious use of social media for public communications. Specifically, the Minister of Communications, Honourable Adebayo Shittu, commended the Commission for using the social media impeccably while urging other stakeholders to emulate the NCC to expand the frontiers of public sector communication, good governance and national development.
Speaking at a 2-day seminar on social media for good governance organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications, Shittu said “in an era when the social media have become very strong platforms for information dissemination and public discourse, it is imperative for government and key players in the private sector to pay extra attention to feedback from, and utilize these new media to provide platform for government-citizen and business-public engagement in an online, real-time and interactive manner”.
The seminar and retreat, Shittu said was designed – among other goals – to share knowledge and information oriented in recent research and analysis of sovial media use; and to review good practices on policies and programmes promoting social media for good governance and other effective uses of the communication networks.
The Minister noted those uses to include creating means to improve governance, opening up access to government and government officials, saving time and money, and creating new ways of working.
Accordingly, “government will not limit Nigerians’ access to social media solely on the basis that it may be used to express views critical of government or the social-political system. Protecting critical expressions on the Internet is the standard by which governments are now held to be genuinely democratic” Shittu told the large gathering of delegates from all the agencies in the Ministry, journalists and other communication professionals and a galaxy of other stakeholders.
The Minister however bemoaned the use of the social media networks for “divisive, tribal, parochial, fabricated and sentimental information, messages and ideas capable of disintegrating the country”. In its stead, Shittu urged Nigerians to draw inspiration from enterprising young Nigerians across industries who have used social media to achieve phenomenal strides that have shaped our lives qualitatively.
Tony Ojobo, NCC Director Public Affairs, who presented the lead paper on public communication in the era of new media, and drawing on NCC’s and other exemplary practices demonstrated in a concrete sense how social media can be deployed for greater effectiveness in public sector communication in Nigeria.
The presentation by other presenters including Ade Atobatele, AkeemAdeniji-Adele, and Abdul-Hakeem Ajijola, which focused respectively on the magic of words; digital transformation; and social media as a tool against weaponisation: hate speech, fake news, were also enthusiastically received and discussed by the audience.