December 06, (THEWILL) – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that to triumph over the challenges facing the country, Nigerians should overcome their differences in politics and religion, tribe and ethnicity.
Speaking during a two-day national conference on information organised by the House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values chaired by Odebunmi Dokun, Gbajabiamila identified information management as one of the keys to solving the country’s security problems.
He said, “As we undertake this crucial assignment today, I would like us to keep a few things in mind. First is that right now, across the length and breadth of our beloved country, we are besieged by several security challenges that strike at the very heart of our continued nationhood.
“Triumph over these challenges requires overcoming our differences in politics and religion, tribe and ethnicity, and building a national alliance against the forces that threaten us. Information management is central to success in this regard.
“We have to do better at making sure that citizens understand the nature of the problems we face and are kept informed of our wins and losses and the sacrifices made by those who do battle on our behalf.
“As technology and new media have democratised public debate to benefit citizens and nations, they have also created the ideal conditions for bad actors to spread misinformation and manipulate people in ways that threaten our societies.”
The Speaker noted that with Nigeria’s diverse cultures and religions still working toward achieving a more perfect union, hate speech and other forms of misinformation and disinformation could quickly have a devastating real-world effect.
“Therefore, countering misinformation by whatever proper and legal means are available is not a theoretical question but a responsibility that goes to the heart of our ability to continue to exist as one nation in peace, unity and prosperity,” he said.
He charged stakeholders at the conference to be aware that in trying to prevent the worst consequences of misinformation and hate speech, there is a danger of going too far in ways that smother the marketplace of ideas and deprive citizens of their free speech rights.
“That would be most unfortunate. As leaders and government policymakers, we must avoid that outcome by all means. To do that, we must focus on building legal systems and protocols that support free expression and robust public debate whilst holding to account those who in service of their narrow interests will seek to subvert our societies and harm our country using choreographed and mischievously curated misinformation,” he said.